Medlar opened in April; how I wish it had existed when I was living down the road. It’s quite a trip nowadays, but a very worthwhile one.
On the quiet end of Kings Road, the restaurant is simply adorned with strikes of shocking green. Tables are fairly cosily arranged at the front of the dining room, which conveyed a touch of modern rawness and with the intentionally tarnished mirrors and patchy grey walls. Larger tables were placed at the back with swish vibrant green sofas and faux framed windows. After a few exchanges about the non-existent English summer with the manager, we focussed on the one and only menu. Straight forward £38 for 3 courses (£25 at lunch) with about seven choices for each course.
Crab raviolo with samphire, brown shrimp, fondue of leeks and bisque sauce
Mister was quite taken aback by the mountain ravioli. It was jam packed with shredded crab meat that was unbelievably sweet, its juices oozed and merged with the luscious bisque sauce. It felt as though Chef had stuffed half of the ocean between the al-dente pasta sheets and poured the other half onto it. Splendid start.
Rare grilled salmon with sauce vierge, sea purslane, oyster beignet and herb mayonnaise
My first impression wasn’t great, slab of fish on too much salad bathing in watery oil, topped with ugly guacamole lookalike splodge and a flimsy oyster in batter, served on the most ordinary canteens-style plate. Judgemental? You bet. Yet I couldn’t be more wrong.
The salmon was mostly raw in shiny pink in the centre; it tasted like sashimi, creamy fatty sashimi, pushing richness to the fullest with the flavourful herb mayo. The sauce vierge here beats William Drabble’s by two miles; it was light with sweetness from tomatoes and fully enhanced with generous handfuls of herbs. The de-skinned syrupy cherry tomatoes and crunchy baby gems leaves were icing on the cake. Everything on the plate was absolutely gorgeous.
It was probably a main course portion, I was 80% full after the first course, yet I couldn’t help but mop up every bit of the dish, soaking up the virgin sauce with the homemade focaccia.
Roast grouse with game chips, bread sauce, pate and damsons (+£5 supplement)
The grouse come rare, as promised. The two hunks of breast were beautifully roasted; the meat boasted its distinctive rareness and bloodiness, so utterly powerful yet remained ever so tender. The blobs of plum sauce reined in the red bird and kept the dish balance. Game chips were just like any other chips, and the pate was comparatively unnoticeable. The bread sauce on the side looked ill with lumps of something, I detected cinnamon and didn’t touch it.
Under blade fillet with persillade snails, salad, triple cooked chips and béarnaise
The cut directly under the shoulder blade is a relatively cheap cut of beef, very lean but full of meaty flavours. Unlike the usual bristly chuck fillet, this wasn’t dissimilar to hanger steak, gently roasted to leave a pink centre, though I’d prefer it even bloodier. This was good, especially the snails and bovine jus, but far from perfect.
Vanilla custard pot with blackcurrant compote and langue de chat
It was very sweet for the manager to placed a little birthday candle for me. A simple dessert well done, silky dense custard more like crème brulee and some healthy acidity in the compote.
Cherry and frangipane croustade with griottines and milk ice cream
Mister’s choice was better than mine, as always. The warm triangular croustade with honeyed nuts and caramelised cherries was well worth the 20-min wait, like pancakes but with slightly crispy edge. Great finish.
Medlar reminded of Odette’s; same kind of modern British cuisine, comfortably smart and homely stylish. Food was spot on, especially the starters; typical dishes cooked the way Chef would like to interpret them. Many bloggers have commended Medlar to snatching a star this year. Of course it deserves recognition, but I’m also a little worried it might change its breezy casualness; staff in jeans and leggings, server sneaking our dishes onto our table with a shy smile without the grand recitation of the menu, being slipped the petit fours twice. There’s a special vibe going on here and I wouldn’t want it to change. It’s been one of the bigger surprises.
438 Kings Road
Tel: 0207 349 1900
You may also like: Odette's, Arbutus, Quo Vadis