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  • 1 year later...

Mayfair Michelin starred restaurant The Greenhouse re-launches on 13 April following an extensive renovation and last year’s ownership change. Antonin Bonnet, who previously worked with Michel Bras at his three-Michelin star restaurant in the Aubrac region of France, will oversee the re-opening as the consultant chef.

Dishes on the £55.00 set dinner menu will be graded from the lightest through to the richest, allowing diners to tailor their selection according to personal taste and appetite. Starters include Open Devon crab lasagne with salsify foam, crab bisque and Foie gras terrine with fresh brioche and apple.

Mains feature Roasted fillet of turbot with ratte mash potatoes, morels and new season asparagus, Fillet of Aubrac veal with sweetbreads and girolles, Swiss chard and ricotta terrine and Cote de beouf of English rare breed with crispy polenta (for two).

Award-winning designers and architects SHH, are responsible for remodelling the interior. Their brief was to achieve an ‘inside-outside’ feel using neutral tones and natural textiles. The new design will incorporate a collection of antique Gallé and Daum vases, chosen to accentuate the botanical themes of The Greenhouse.

The wine list at The Greenhouse will number 2,000 bins when it re-opens. The vast list offers a selection of Old and New World wines, from lesser-known producers to emerging wine regions; including Mount Horrocks Watervale Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia, 2002 at £35.

Other fine wines sourced by Head Sommelier James Payne range from Bodegas y Viñedos Alión, Ribera del Duero, Spain, 1996 at £79 and Zind-Humbrecht Tokay-Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl, Alsace, France, 1995 at £90 to rarities such as D.R.C Montrachet, 1978 at £2,350 and Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, USA, 1974 at £1,250.

The Greenhouse, 27A Hay’s Mews, Mayfair, London W1X 7RJ 020 7499 3331

reservations@greenhouserestaurant.co.uk

eGullet.com UK News Team

E-mail uknews@egullet.com with press releases, news reports, and food-biz gossip

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  • 4 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Does a restaurant have a soul? More importantly, does it need one? That was the question I was hoping to answer by dining at youthful entrepreneur Marlon Abela's re-imagining of The Greenhouse, one of London's best loved and longest standing restaurants.

If you are unfamiliar with Abela's name, you are unlikely to remain in that state of blissful ignorance for long. The 29 year old (who's father owned the global contract catering company Albert Abela Corporation) is Dysoning up properties across the globe in an attempt to become a world class restaurateur.

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The Greenhouse is a Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation (MARC) "concept A" establishment. Abela is set to open at least five of these fine-dining restaurants in London within five years. Paris and New York will follow. Each will have an average spend of £80 a head including wine and are intended to be the organisation’s two or three Michelin star flagships. Besides The Greenhouse, Abela already has Morton's private club and ultra-expensive Japanese restaurant Umu up and running.

Where there is a concept "A" you might assume there is a "B" and "C". In Abela's world, B equals casual fine dining, 60-200 covers, £45.00 a head average spend and "C" stands for a "suburban branded rollout concept" bringing urban sophistication to residential America at $40 a head. So far, so off-puttingly clinical and calculating.

Or maybe it's just a smart business plan. Does the fact that Abela so overtly wants (and arguably needs) multiple Michelin stars for his “concept A” establishments make any difference to the dining experience? Can a proprietor with bottomless pockets full of cash to throw at a 2,000 bin wine list stuffed full of rare vintages, a world class chef in the form of Bjorn van der Horst and an oak, walnut and draped fabric dining room filled with gorgeous Art Nouveau object d'art have enough taste and passion to create something "real", or does a creeping sense of cynicism pervade? Is it Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston; Public Enemy or Vanilla Ice; Janis Joplin or Joss Stone?

The room is certainly very elegant with its burgundy and beige colour scheme, etched glass enclosed salon privee and recessed ceramic displays. It put me in mind of Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road, although when full, it has an agreeable buzz and energy that Ramsay’s more restrained operation resists.

Van der Horst is an A team chef for an A concept restaurant; apprenticed at L’Auberge de I’ill, a year and half with Robuchon, 4 years with Ducasse and then Chef de Cuisine at Picholine in New York, it would be difficult to find a much more impressive CV. But resumes can be misleading. Just because a chef has worked for the best doesn’t necessarily mean the magic has rubbed off. Luckily, van der Horst was born to pull rabbits out of hats.

Take for example the Jerusalem artichoke soup (soup mind you, there’s not a veloute to be had anywhere on the menu) with black trumpets and foie gras that kicked off the portentously titled “Prelude To Autumn” 7 course 75 pounds a head tasting menu. This was truly great cooking of kind that fully engaged all the senses. The earthy flavours were overwhelming, a mantra that cleared the mind of all but one thought: this is fantastic. The cheese and mushroom soldier (sorry, truffle and mascarpone mille fuille) was made with the most delicate of buttery puff pastry and almost tipped me over the edge of pleasure. “If I wasn’t in a posh restaurant, I’d dip it in the soup”, I remarked to my dining companion, then did it anyway.

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Pan seared foie gras with espresso syrup and amaretto foam reached similar heights. The adroitly seared liver was gooey inside, contrasting nicely with the almond crusted exterior. Bitter syrup and sweet foam were impeccably balanced.

Not all dishes were as successful however. A bowl of Scottish lobster with caramelised endives came to the table smelling exactly like a tarte tatin and was overly sweet. The accompanying vanilla brown butter was not brown at all and swamped the dish, making the beautifully cooked lobster meat difficult to enjoy. Poached Atlantic halibut was partnered with a lemon sabayon and dates that might have been better served with a steamed sponge pudding.

The chef might also be accused of gilding his lilies. A technically impressive amuse of frogs legs with the meat scraped back from the bone, crumbed and deep fried was served with a spicy coriander puree and a shot glass of virgin mary and tomato consommé. There appeared to be little obvious relationship between the various elements on the plate.

Similarly, a sensational “pur caraible” and praline tart was unnecessarily embellished with a shot of raspberry and cocoa liqueur which served only to lessen the impact of the dish. In contrast, a Blumenthal-esque pre-dessert of white chocolate mousse with black olive toffee sounded awful but worked brilliantly. The selection of over 60 cheeses were in perfect condition and generously served and constituted a highlight of the meal.

Wines by the glass were imaginatively chosen by ex-The Square sommelier James Payne and although mostly spot on matches for the food, were often served too cold. A 2000 Meursault Tessons Michel Bouzereau was a particular casualty, only beginning to open up as we finished the halibut it was paired with. Service is polished yet affable, although restaurant manager Jean-Marie Miorada is yet to stamp his personality on the room.

But what about the question I posed at the beginning of this report. Although I approached the restaurant with some trepidation, I left if not wholly convinced, then at least re-assured. Abela might well be the Roman Abramovich of the London restaurant scene, but he appears to be more than just a fat wallet.

The Greenhouse is a young business that has aimed its sights very high from the get-go. It has achieved a very good standard in a short space of time and may well continue to improve. It's more than the sums of its parts, a real restaurant and not just some rich kid's identikit idea of what one might be like. Has it got soul? Well, that's too big a question to be asking just at the moment. In five years time we'll know for sure.

PRELUDE TO AUTUMN

Apértiif : 1988 Henriot, Cuvée des Enchanteleurs

TASTING MENU

Jerusalem artichoke soup

black trumpets and foie gras

Lustau Manzanilla Amontillada Spain

Scottish lobster

caramelized endives and vanilla brown butter

2001 Verdejo Belondrade y Lurton Rueda Spain

Pan seared foie gras

espresso syrup and amaretto foam

2001 Cauhapé Jurançon Symphonie de Novembre

Poached Atlantic halibut

lemon sabayon, dates and pistachio-truffle vinaigrette

2000 Meursault Tessons Michel Bouzereau

Roasted loin of Scottish venison

croustillant, endives and chestnut späetzle

2002 Cederberg Shiraz South Africa

White chocolate mousse

black olive toffee

2003 MR Moscatel Mountain Wine Málaga Spain

‘Pur caraibe’ and praline tart

raspberry and cocoa liqueur shot

1999 Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos Oremus Hungary

£75 per person

Selection of cheeses

Warres Otima 20 Year Old Tawny Port

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  • 2 months later...

A very good dinner at the Greenhouse on Saturday night with a couple of minor gripes, We arrived 20 minutes early for our table at 21:10 for a drink in the small bar, there was no space at the bar but were told our table was ready so we made our way to the restaurant and sat down. We waited approximately 1 minute to be offered water and another 10 before we were asked if we would like an aperitif. £12 for a glass of Jacquesson 728 N.V. We still sat there without menus and observing tables around us realised that several other people appeared to be getting a similarly slow service. It then occurred to me that they were “waiting by numbers”. Once the menus arrived things went like clockwork but I’m guessing that they wouldn’t give the menus out until your time to dine had come along. We were eventually brought our menus at 21:45 with the line “Would you like to see the menu?”

Anyway, after that service went pretty smoothly until we tried to get the bill and the myriad of staff seemed to vacate the restaurant, after around 10 minutes we managed to get the lone waiters attention and we paid up, left our table and then found 3 staff all standing at the front desk talking. Not very satisfactory.

I’m going on memory for the food so there may be a few gaps/mistakes! We chose the Degustation menu and the restaurant was happy to substitute the fillet of beef for Poularde de Bresse with truffle. An amuse of Cauliflower Pannacotta with a Cauliflower soup with White Truffle was a promising start. The soup was served in a shot glass, frothy with some pieces of white truffle bringing it t life – very good.

A starter of Pheasant and chestnut soup was a rich heart dish poured around Pheasant Royal. This was a great winter dish, rustic, warming and pleasingly rich alsongside was served the buttery pastry Andy described previously with Truffle. I did however wonder whether it was good to start with such a “big” flavoured dish.

Poached Lobster was served with a buttery vanilla sauce offset slightly with some balsamic vinegar. This was wonderful, the vanilla was nicely balanced, not overpowering the dish as vanilla can do. The poached Lobster was of a good quality. The sauce was an absolute winner though and we mopped our plates with the excellent bread.

Pan fried Foie Gras was caramelised with sugar giving it a lovely crunch, I’m not sure that the glaze didn’t contain salt as well although this may have been added afterwards. It was accompanied by espresso syrup that had a bitterness that married well with the amaretto foam and the sweet Foie Gras. An outstanding dish, one of the best Foie Gras preparations I have had in a long time.

The next course was Halibut with a Pistachio dressing and Lemon sabayon. The fish was served on top of a small disc of fondant potato. This dish was a little underwhelming. Nothing wrong with it but there was nothing very distinct about it, perhaps it lacked a little seasoning but this was the most disappointing dish of the night. The Light lemon sabayon was a little sickly after a while.

The Poularde de Bresse came with the rich clarified cooking stock with some baby vegetables, rich with truffles. The chicken itself had a layer of truffles under the skin.

This dish was lovely BUT the skin had taken on a strange flavour, it had a smell of ammonia/metal to it, this was also evident in the truffle under the skin, the chicken itself was fine. Apart from this the dish was very good. The waitress bought me a large box of truffles form the kitchen to see if I could identify the smell in the Truffles and I think I could detect a slight hint of it in the box which otherwise smelt overwhelmingly of Black Truffle. One bad truffle perhaps? It wasn’t enough to ruin the dish.

A pre-dessert of White chocolate mousse topped with a black olive toffee was very good. Rich white chocolate (Valrhona?) topped with the toffee with a hint of the olive coming through a few moments later.

The first dessert was chocolate filled with praline served with a shot of tia maria and iced coffee. A very rich ad satisfying dessert, fortunately not too large, it would be difficult to eat a large portion of this.

Finally 3 pots (very Robuchon) Honey and Greek Yoghurt, a chocolate one and another concoction with green tea. Frustratingly I can’t remember them for the life of me but they were very good and ended the meal very nicely. Coffee and macaroons followed, perfectly nice macaroons but I have just been spoilt by my second box of Pierre Herme macaroons in the space of 2 weeks so I’m not in a position to really judge these fairly.

Overall a very good meal, pushing all the right buttons to make Michelin tick all the right boxes provided they don’t arrive early for their table. :rolleyes:

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

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  • 1 month later...

Goodness, I wanted to like this place. It had garnered favourable reviews, and the setting was beautiful. We even had a table next to the window. The staff were friendly and well informed, and the cooking was clearly "serious".

Unfortunately virtually nothing worked for me. Flavours were muddied or weak, from one end of the meal to another. A starter "cone" with a parsnip mousse was set next to a little cup of mussel soup; the flavours didn't blend well, and the mousse was heavy and messy to eat. As a follow up starter, duck was served in several different ways (carpaccio, parfait of foie, confit, etc.); the parfait had an unpleasantly sweetish taste, and none of the other flavours really came through. Then oxtail "lasagne": undersalted, and the shredded meat was stringy; unpleasant strands kept getting caught between plate and fork, like eating a bowl of tangled spaghetti. There was a strange dark-green sauce served with the oxtail; the flavours didn't really blend well.

Coffee came with pre-desserts and then macaroons (OK, but nothing exceptional); one of the four pre-desserts was interesting.

The place is not inexpensive -- two lunch courses cost £28, mineral water £5, coffee £5. At those prices, and in such a pleasant setting, they should be able to do better. I'll certainly try again, hoping to find some of the pleasure that Andy and Matthew reported on.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Its seems that the reservations I had about my meal - some things being overly sweet; a disconnect between sone of the elements of some of the dishes - overwhelmed and spolit your lunch. Perhaps there's a little too much creativity in the kitchen and not enough consistancy at the moment.

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Just add my 2ps worth.

I had dinner here last Saturday and loved it - one of the best meals I've had in London in a while at this level.

Highlights were the Foie Gras as described by Matthew above. Interesting sea urchin pannacotta which tasted totally of the sea, iodiney, fresh.

Delicious beef with oyster carpaccio - a traditional pairing but one which I had never experienced.

Citrus pre-dessert was delicious too.

Service was good especially the sommelier. Interesting wines with the usual 3 times markup.

There are some balance flaws - the sweetness aspect has been higlighted - but generally an excellent experience.

Gav

"A man tired of London..should move to Essex!"

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