Friday, 13 May 2011

The Artisan practising Careful Art

This side of Mayfair is teemed with good restaurants, Goodman, Sketch and Wild Honey just to name a few. Needless to say securing a table at the last minute during the Easter break was a depressing and despairing experience. Thankfully Artisan at the Westbury could fit us in.

Artisan is hidden on the ground floor of the five-star hotel. The décor falls into the 90s elegance category; cream mellow walls with chocolate darklining and grand chandeliers. We were seated under the glass roof and enjoyed some natural lights. Comfy.

Amuse Bouche
Confit duck with cucumber topped with pan-fried duck. While the piece of duck was flavoursome and succulent, I didnt think it made a great amuse bouche. Neither did it excite my taste buds nor shown any characterisation the chefs approach. But hey, its free. People are so hard to please nowadays.

Mister thought the container looked like an ashtray.

A second round of warm bread was offered on a silver tray with both salted and unsalted butter.

Fourme dAmbert Mousse with prickled spring vegetables
The ancient French blue cheese was piped with a palette of most vivacious colours, ever so artistically presented. The cheese was savoury and nutty, its supple texture was offset was by the whipping to mingle with the gently pickled vegetable. The combination was perfect. The absolute highlight, however, was the truffle shavings that casually snowed on the dish. The truffle drawn out the lasting taste of Fourme dAmbert and enhanced its earthiness. I relished every little bit of this starter.

Chicken & Foie Gras Ballontine with Armagnac prune, rhubarb & toasted brioche
Misters ballontine was also impeccably presented. The ratio was more chicken less foie gras, which Mister thought forfeited on the velvety touch. I preferred the lighter body and thought it was good, though not as impressive as my cheese mousse.

Hake with crushed Jersey Royals, spinach & lemon foam
I was half-expecting a fairly firm fish, seeing the French call it White Salmon, and was gladly wrong. It was moist, soft and flaky, more subtle than cod but was nicely lifted by the mild foam. Sheets of courgette were intertwined with lemon skin, which carried the refreshing zest but none of the acidity.The dish was gentle.

Roasted Middle Neck of Lamb with pomme puree, tomato capers & anchovies
This look remarkably similar to the lamb loin at Viajante; I have reasons to believe the limp-leaf-draping-over-red-meat look is currently hot in the culinary world.

This was okay, if not ever so slightly overcooked for the coarser texture. I dont think I am a fan of the stiff flavours of neck meat.

Both of my courses were brilliant with careful balance. Though Mister too enjoyed his meal, he wasnt particular blown away. Artisan was cautious, but perhaps too cautious that there werent enough innovative surprises in the recipes. All in all it was a good meal, though a subdued competitor in relation to its neighbours.

Bond Street
Mayfair
London
W1S 2YF
Tel: 0207 629 7755

You may also like: Viajante, Pearl by Jun Tanaka, Texture

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