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James Knappett @ Marcus Wareing


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James Knappett was going to be cooking my dinner at the Berkeley , Marcus Wareing was elsewhere so James was leading the kitchen brigade as the head chef.James has an amazing pedigree and when i read the impressive list of restaurants that he`s worked in i was really excited at the thought of what he would be cooking for us.Thomas Kellers "Per Se" in New york , Gordon Ramsay , Rick Stein and 2 years in the kitchens of the `worlds Number one` restaurant - Noma in Copenhagen...WOW , i was wondering what James was capable of whilst in charge of the Berkeleys kitchen team. I had already been studying the Menus for a couple of weeks prior to my dinner there. I could see influences of Noma straight away on the various menus that Marcus and James had created together.Marcus specialising very much in classic cuisine ( ex Gordon Ramsay ) married up with James`s wild and modern twist of flowers ,hedgrow , seashore , wild and foraged produce.Part and parcel of chefs daily chores whilst working at Noma was their daily forage in the countryside and then creating a menu around what was available that day .So what an amazing combination , both of classic mixed with modern, exactly what i love so much in cuisine.When i dine out , i want to be eating Lobster , foie gras , truffles , reduced sauces etc etc .Im very much old school in my tastebuds but i also get off on the modern twists of food "from nature to plate" , Simon Rogan and Lenclume for instance.So my meal with James would be very much of a cross between the two....or so i hoped.

We arrived at the Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge at 7.30 , perfect timing for fantastic cocktails in the hotels "Blue bar" , a well known celebrity destination hang out.It was to be a long night of eating , 5 hours to be precise so time to relax , enjoy the friendly faces and prepare for the feast that lay ahead. Shortly after we were greeted and ushered through to the Restaurant , it was stunning , all with a Burgundy / Aubergine theme....and very.....very dark.Ohhh dear , my immediate thought straight

away was " My photos ".The restaurant really was so badly lit that i doubted that even my trusty little well researched Panasonic Lumix LX5 wouldnt be able to save the day. I had flashbacks to my night taking photos in `The Witchery` in Edinburgh , the fantastic Gothic restaurant lit only by candlelight...which was so dark i had to read the menu with my phone light. I had horrific thoughts , the Berkeley restaurant lighting wasn`t quite as bad but it was still going to be a nightmare to use a camera - with no flash. I asked one of the staff if they could turn up the lighting over my table but i was politely informed that it wasn`t possible as all the restaurant lighting would increase...Ahh well , onwards and upwards and ill try and make the very best of a bad job and let photoshop save the day on my computer....as it did with the Witchery photos.

And so the food started to arrive , and as you can see from the photos below , photoshop actually worked its magic and managed to turn dark and grainy photos into something `just` acceptable.Next time i go to the Berkeley then ill do Lunch , sit beside a window and get some decent light on the plates.

Little appetiser treats from the chef arrived one by one - Aubergine tart, / Grilled Quails hearts , / Pickled egg , caviar and Pigs skin , /Pineapple weed , Scottish Scallop in pickled Cucumber , grape , Lime mayonnaise. / Dorset Crab , Avocado puree , tomato , pickled vegetables ,

pickled Chilli , coriander

Aubergine tart

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Grilled Quails hearts

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Pickled egg , caviar and Pigs skin

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Pineapple weed , Scottish Scallop in pickled Cucumber , grape , Lime

mayonnaise.

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Dorset Crab , Avocado puree , tomato , pickled vegetables , pickled Chilli

, coriander

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Creamed Foie Gras , caramelised milk tuile, fresh cobnuts, blackberries

and Hyssop

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Burrata "stretched" Mozarella , Malted crumbs , cherries and onions.

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Summer "Vegetable patch" - Pickled Damsons , pea puree , turnip , baby

carrots , Elderflowers , soft Goats curd and Elderflower dressing.

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Butter poached Scottish Lobster , Quails egg , Nori Seaweed powder ,

buttered cabbage , Vinegar.

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Girolles , Herb Papparadelli , Chickweed , Purslane , Truffle butter and

Fresh Truffle from Tuscany.

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Cornish Mackerel , Smoked Paprika , Paprika oil , Sweetcorn puree , Grated

Zests , Parmesan , coriander , Lime puree.

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Cornish Line caught Sea bass with 7 textures of Cauliflower , pine nuts ,

flaked Almonds , sauce Polonaise , Purslaine

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Cornish Turbot , New potatoes , Green Strawberries , courgette and Coastal

herbs.

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Wood pigeon , Turnip , cabbage , Chocolate sauce , pigeon jus

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Cumbrian Lamb with Japanese Rose petals , Yoghurt and charred Leeks.

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Beef , Smoked Bone marrow , Hogweed seeds , Grilled courgette , cucumber ,

Raspberries and Nasturtiums.Best main course of my life.

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Broken down Pina Colada , Pineapple sorbet , Rum and different textures of

Coconut.

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Caramelised apple parfait , Bramley apple jelly and sorbet , pearl barley

and cinnamon.

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"Hay" creme brulee , Strawberries , Sweet cicely , Malt crumbs

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Caramel sundae with different textures of Caramel , Yoghurt and Malt.

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Liquorice cake , Smoked milk ice cream , fresh pear and wood Sorrel.

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Sea Buckthorn mousse in Milk chocolate....My special birthday cake .

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So....to summarise my 22 course dinner by James Knappett @ Marcus Wareing @ The Berkeley.....Spoken from the heart as an `impartial diner` - First of all the negative points....or should i just say `point` ?....The restaurant lighting.The lighting was horrendous for anyone who enjoys taking pics of their meal , flash photography isnt allowed in the restaurant in respect for other diners so food lovers.So bloggers and those wanting to show others their wonderful meal on their phones or cameras

have to rely on the available light. Far more importantly the food is so amazing and pleasing to the eye that i personally feel that it needs to be proudly presented in all of its glory.Take for example the `summer vegetable patch` , it was visually beautiful , a work of art on the plate but sadly couldnt be seen to its full potential and beauty because of the poor lighting , same for the rest of the food. So cmon Berkeley and tweak the lighting levels up "just a wee bit".

As for the good points....Ohhhhhh i`m gonna struggle here ha ha....Well for a start, no two ways about it I ate 3 star Michelin food, ....I ate James Knappetts 3 star Michelin food.This guy is so talented he blew me away with his innovative , perfectly cooked and faultless food....Words fail me right now but theres no doubting that this guy is going places, he`s cooking up there with the best 3 star chefs in Europe and its only a matter of time before the name is up in lights.There you go...Summed up an a couple of lines.I`m a happy diner , im a happy blogger and hopefully my photos and words will portray what an amazing dining experience we had at the the Berkeley. Marcus...You`re

leaving your kitchen in very good hands.

I cant end this piece without thanking the front of house team.It makes the world of difference to see people smiling and it seems that everyone at the restaurant was doing just that.It`s evident that everyone is happy there and that came over during service. A quick look inside the kitchen ( By

then it was 01:15am ) and a big thank you to Chef James and we had to make our excuses to leave and let the lads all get back to their beds......Seeing as though they were all back up again at 07:00.....Ohhhhh No.....life as a chef , not for me.

Edited by sped98 (log)
CumbriafoodieCumbriafoodie
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many thanks for this thread and the trouble you took to take and post so many pictures. I hope others that go to restaurants whether just to "lunch" as the Lunch Ladies do or fancier restaurants.

it gives us ideas is anything. however I just dont understand the infatuation with slate as a plate. that being said it unlikely Ill ever be able to go to a restaurant that uses them. see ... sometimes things work out!

:laugh:

thanks again.

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'First of all the negative points....or should i just say `point` ?....The restaurant lighting.The lighting was horrendous for anyone who enjoys taking pics of their meal , flash photography isnt allowed in the restaurant in respect for other diners so food lovers.So bloggers and those wanting to show others their wonderful meal on their phones or cameras

have to rely on the available light'

The lighting is designed for people eating food, not food anoraks. Perhaps you'd prefer the rest of us to dine under 100W bulbs just so you can more easily photograph your food, perhaps standing up or ducking around the table to get a better angle? The solipsism of bloggers is quite breathtaking.

S

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Hi Alan, thank for sharing those photoes, the meal looks amazing. Was this a one off special 22 course option? I can't see this available on the Berkeley website, was going to book The Ledbury for a special birthday meal in November but this has given me some serious thinking to do.

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Wow, looks amazing. From looking at the pictures/reading the menu I would never have guessed it was a meal @MW. Incredibly impressed at the extent to which James has been allowed to develop the menu since being appointed head chef - this food clearly bears his influence and it looks all the better for it.

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Had an interesting lunch here last Friday.

I have eaten here once previously when it was Petrus. We had a good lunch back then and thought it was about time to go back. I did email Gordon Ramsay RHR about the lunch menu to see if the online version was a sample but the reply was that the online version was the menu. The starters seemed interesting but the mains sounded boring so we gave Gordon a miss. I also had a long look at the greenhouse.

It was very wet in London last Friday. We had a poke around Borough Market. It’s quite a while since I was last there. Monmouth still makes a fine cup of coffee. We had some oysters from the oyster man and nibbled cheese samples. Eventually we headed across town towards the Berkeley.

After much consideration we opted for the set lunch menu with wine. We very nearly took the bigger tasting menu considering the rain, but I wanted to pick up some cheese from Beillevaire and O’Sheas for some meat, so the lunch option won. I got my cheese and meat and also got very wet (again).

Some canapés arrived, an aubergine 'pop tart' and another with tomato and intense homemade tomato ketchup. Gone in a blink.

Bread came as a choice of four in slices. The bread was good. I really liked the brown butter it came with.

Amuse was a very delicious fish and chips soup, it being Friday and all. It came with a tube of fried crumbed mushy peas, a richly flavoured fish soup and thick potato foam. I could have eaten a lot of this. A very good start.

We ordered

Starters

Summer vegetables, goats curd, damson, elderflower. Much the same as in Sped’s image above although our lunch portion was a little larger. A burst of vibrant colours and flavours, really good.

Mackerel, sweetcorn, parmesan, lime. I took this starter. It was a nice fillet of fish. The sweetcorn was served as a salsa; the garnish also included a very good lime puree and a little dice of lime and grated frozen parmesan. I ate the lot. I wouldn’t have minded the salsa not being on the plate though. Again the finished plate looks similar to Sped’s image with the inclusion of the sweetcorn salsa.

Mains

Lemon sole, rainbow chard, girolles, sea purslane, onion. All good stuff, very nice fish, good mushrooms, delicious onions and good presentation. I ate more of this than I expected.

I chose the wood pigeon, chocolate, cherries, turnip, cabbage. The pigeon was a serving of two plump breasts sitting on a disc of crunchy turnip with bitter chocolate sauce, cherries and cooking juices made into a sauce. The first breast was quite nice; it was quite rare and contained a couple of pieces of shot. Not entirely unexpected but a little bit crunchy none the less. Once I had fished out the offending items it ate quite well. The second breast was borderline raw. It was not very enjoyable at all; the texture was possibly less enjoyable than how rare the meat was. All the other elements were good. I was really looking forward to the pigeon, it is not something I eat often but is something I enjoy. I wasn’t really too sure what to do with it at this point. Of course, my unease had been spotted by the staff. There was no fuss or tutting, I was to be given a replacement main of lemon sole and so I didn’t have to eat alone it would come with some pappardelle and a generous grating of summer truffle from Florence. The truffle had quite pronounced flavour and the pasta was really good. The plate was disappeared into the kitchen for inspection. The explanation was that it had been cooked sous vide but due to the skin being damaged the meat had not been pan finished hence the underdoneness. What could have been a very awkward moment was handled with great skill and discretion. There was also another glass of wine with the extra courses. The wine was very nice. Disaster averted we progressed happily onto desserts.

Pre desert was pina colada, pineapple, coconut etc. Nice and fresh. Quite a lot of it too.

The other time I ate here was not long after the great British menu custard tart started appearing on the menu. It came with rhubarb the first time. This time it came with greengage and crumble. It is delicious.

The other dessert was strawberries, sweet cicely, hay, malt. This was described as a representation of the strawberry field. The hay was infused into custard and that was topped with quite a lot of strawberries, the malt sprinkled over the top and the cicely leaves taking the place of the strawberry plants. It was a good looking, tasty and thoughtful plateful. The hay infused custard was particularly interesting. Again, see Sped’s image. The lunch plate was larger but looked very similar.

We passed on coffee but got a couple of little bags of chocolates to take with us.

The paired wines were quite nice. I enjoyed the Australian Grenache that came with the pigeon, but the wines that came with the sole and the pasta, a New Zealand chardonnay (sole) and a French viognier (pasta) were really good.

Service was very good, really excellent in fact. Pigeon aside the food was very good. Good ingredients with interesting flavour combinations and plated with real care. It was an enjoyable couple of hours.

Edited by MaLO (log)

Martin

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Sounds like a big success MaLO ,it really is a treat isnt it ?. I was a bit tormented over this Keller at Harrods pop up at £250...without wine and service.After eating that meal at The Berkeley ive decided my money would be better spent going back there for another beautiful meal.

The service was fab , they all seemed so bloody happy...why can`t i be like that at work ?

Thanks for the nice report.

CumbriafoodieCumbriafoodie
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  • 1 month later...

Sounds like a big success MaLO ,it really is a treat isnt it ?. I was a bit tormented over this Keller at Harrods pop up at £250...without wine and service.After eating that meal at The Berkeley ive decided my money would be better spent going back there for another beautiful meal.

The service was fab , they all seemed so bloody happy...why can`t i be like that at work ?

Thanks for the nice report.

The irony, Knappett resigns and is currently cooking at TFL@Harrods :laugh:

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Oh dear....you`re all correct , he resigned and is working with his wife Sandia at the Keller pop up in Harrods.I think its a case of "watch this space" , he`s really excited about the next phase after Keller.....should be something to look forward to.

Would be nice if Keller has now seen the huge potential in opening a London restaurant and James took the reins there....we will all wait with baited breath for any news.

CumbriafoodieCumbriafoodie
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  • 3 weeks later...
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