Thursday, 14 July 2011

Clos Maggiore - Romance is in the Air

Clos Maggiore is voted the most romantic restaurant in London, the website claims. About 7 years ago, Cynthia recommended this restaurant to me as a Christmas dinner venue; she enjoyed her meal next to the fireplace and said it was a beautiful experience. I was a much poorer student than she was. So when Mister suggested a romantic evening out, Clos Maggiore was a natural choice.

We requested to be seated in the Conservatory, which was decorated like a secret garden with a glass rooftop, faux vegetation-lined walls with pale pink blossoms, tinted mirrors and a grand fireplace. The summer sky stayed bright, but I can easily imagine the dining room in dimmed lights and a glowing fire. The ambience was romantic indeed. In the safe hands of Marcellin Marc, whom was awarded 2 Michelin stars back in France, the menu was predominantly French with a modern touch.

Chilled Melon Soup
I ordered this purely out of curiosity; I wanted to know how else this could turn out except for a bowl of melon juice. And a bowl of melon juice it was, with balls of melon meat. While it was a refreshing drink and my first time spooning melon juice from a bowl, I’m not sure if it counts as a starter. The sesame soldiers, however, were scrumptious; like mini deep fried dough. I just had to keep it totally separate to the melon sorbet.

Corn-fed Chicken Leg Ballotine, Cauliflower Remoulade
Just as I thought I have had all kinds of ballotine in various shapes and sizes, this came as a pleasant surprise. The chicken slices were heavily smoked with a small cube of chorizo wedged in the middle to boost the greasy flavours. It was intense, smooth and vibrant; great contrast to the disc of cauliflower. The ball of chicken leg on top of the pile was less impressive, like the chicken wings at Pearl, the meat was compressed into a dense block, and compromised the tenderness of chicken leg meat.

Limousin Veal Blanquette, pilau rice & shallots
A thick strip of veal was rolled into a roulade, with a thin layer of fat tucked in the inner lining. The meat was so soft I could have easily torn it apart with a spoon. Just imagine the most tender piece of veal, absorbed with creamy fungi sauce that was further boosted by generous shavings of nutty black truffle, slowly dissolving away on tongue. I soaked up all the sauce with the pilau rice served on the side.

Pan-roasted Pollock, stuffed squid
A beautifully composed summer dish. Squid was stuffed with paella-like rice, the combination was full of bounce and life; Pollock resembled cod, succulent and silky, though I thought it was leaning on the firm side; the sweet tomato juicy brought the dish together and shouted summer fiesta.

English Peach Tart, pistachio ice cream
Tarts and baked fruits aren’t really my kind of thing; I did steal a couple of mouthfuls and the tart crumbled away with minimum effort.

One thing I found quite interruptive was the glass roof; it was a warm evening and the roof was originally left open for ventilation. As it got chillier, a table asked to close it. The movement of the roof made this thundering sound that echoed in the conservatory, and it was either a faulty remote or a fickle customer, the roof continuously glided back and forth throughout our main course.

Still, overall a great dinner. I must admit the décor played a massive part in setting the mood and enhancing the experience, but the food shouldn’t be overlooked. Mister moved the Romance up a notch with tickets to Love Never Dies musical… in my humble opinion, Sierra Boggess sings too much better than her replacement, and Mister thought the new Meg Giry was catastrophic. Other than that, the show was full of surprising stage inventions, and Phantom was as good as always.

33 King Street
Covent Garden
Tel: 0207 379 9696

Clos Maggiore on Urbanspoon
You may also like: Gauthier Soho, Odette’s, Artisan


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