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Hibiscus moving?

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We ate in a group of 5. As there were 5 choices for each course, we ate everything on the menu...

Interesting to note that some things on the menu last night were the same as those mentioned from last week, but with a different main ingredient. The sweetcorn tartare is now with lamb's sweetmeats (bollocks!), and has also been with lamb's brain since opening.

Likewise, poached trout has been poached yellowfin, with the same garnish.

The bread and butter are superb. Incredibly yellow and full flavoured butter. Same bread as at the Fat Duck.

I didn't care for the tonic amuse - hibiscus flower soda with olive oil lacked the olive oil note required.

My starter was the langoustine ravioli. The ravioli were jam packed full of beautifully cooked transulcent meat. But I wasn't sure about the garnish: cinnamon onion marmelade was too powerful; worse still, a pile of bean sprouts totally overwhelmed the forkful, without complementing any of the flavours.

Why beansprouts? Why? They were in the salad with the sausage roll later on, too.

Other starters were better or worse: foie gras ice cream is fantastic - the brioche emulsion tastes of buttered bread, in a wonderfully familiar way. Could do with some more texture though. Pollack very light, but his truffle plate-mate was anonymous. Crisp fried lamb's bollocks were surprisingly nice. Shame the mackerel and the hot foie weren't on the menu - I'd like to have tried.

Mains were almost universally excellent. By far the best course. I had venison with smoked chocolate sauce (intense), chicken liver parfait (good offally background), pumpkin seeds and creamed cabbage. If only the venison hadn't been overcooked, this would have been a knockout. Accompanying dauphinoise were awesome. Turnip root less so.

Other mains: the veal was fantastic. Excellent specimen, and lightly handled. Trout was also excellent. Don't remember the john dory as well. I actually thought the pork with uni (£12.50 supplement!) was the weakest. I love uni, and I thought it was too powerful in the sauce, especially with an actual tongue as well. But the sausage roll was very good (just a shame about those bloody bean sprouts).

OH MY GOD THE CHEESE WAS AMAZING. I have had B Anthony cheese before, but never in such perfect condition. The Tomme de Savoie was off the charts.

Unfortunately, desserts were almost uniformly poor. I had the olive oil parfait with chickpeas and date puree. I really didn't like this, and I love olive oil desserts usually. The chickpeas tasted raw, and had sprouts coming out of the top, so they AGAIN tasted like beansprouts. The olive oil didn't come through, and the biscuit that sanwiched the parfait was unpleasant in texture.

The apple in the apple tart was undercooked and the pastry wasn't great. I didn't have enough of the whimberries to form an opinion, but the general consensus wasn't great. Only the millefeuille impressed. A gorgeous towering version, with an excellent marriage of flavours.

Claude told us that his pastry chef wasn't in the restaurant that night, and it showed.

The sommelier was outstanding, with infectious enthusiasm.

So overall, I had a very good meal, with some let downs. So it would be possible to go into the restaurant, choose 3 awesome courses, and think it the best food in London. But likewise, you could have a duff meal.

In restaurants like the Fat Duck, the more gnarly flavour combinations sound strange in print, but taste effortless and natural on the plate. Hibiscus wasn't like this. Even the dishes that worked felt like a challenge in some way. So it will be interesting to see how the general public react to this type of food, and how Claude refines the dishes once he has settled in.

I know my account might sound like I can't make my mind up on how good the food was. And that might be how I feel. But in the end, I love this kind of exciting adventurous food, and think it's a great addition to London. I'll be back.

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In restaurants like the Fat Duck, the more gnarly flavour combinations sound strange in print, but taste effortless and natural on the plate. Hibiscus wasn't like this. Even the dishes that worked felt like a challenge in some way.

review from Jan Moir has a different opinion on this...."He is a culinary daredevil, whose food combinations often look absurd and even ridiculous in print, but somehow make perfect sense when you eat them."

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Does anyone understand the new Evening Standard format of having a main review where no rating is awarded? So far, there's been reviews of Marco, Divo and Hibiscus all with no rating. Does that mean all three restaurants are so bad in Fay's opinion that they deserve no stars, or that its less a review and more an article? Why give ratings with the shorter reviews and not the long one? Is Fay really saying that Northbank is three stars and Hibiscus none? It just makes no sense to me.

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review from Jan Moir has a different opinion on this...."He is a culinary daredevil, whose food combinations often look absurd and even ridiculous in print, but somehow make perfect sense when you eat them."

Yes, I had read that review before going.

I ate rabbit with a sea urchin veloute at the fat duck around 6 years ago, so the idea of meat with uni isn't that new, and when executed correctly, certainly not crazy, and perhaps "makes perfect sense". But to me, even as an urchin lover, the sauce was too powerful. Perhaps the sauce was slightly different when she was there, or perhaps she just has different tastes.

I really liked the food (mostly), but it just didn't feel "easy" to me.

As for Fay's reviews, the lack of rating is nonsensical. Either bar up and give a rating based on one early meal, or go to the restaurant more than once to help balance opening inconsistencies and post a review a week later.

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Ate here last night and it gets a thumbs up from me. Had the Foie Gras ice cream to start with the Brioche emulsion. Tasted wonderful but was all a bit samey texture-wise. No Uni with the suckling pig this time, but mussels instead. The sausage roll is to die for. The cinnamon millefuille desert was lacking in excitement, but the apple tart with lentil & ginger ice cream worked a real treat.

Service was impeccable, and very friendly. Staff were keen to get feedback on the whole experience.


Edited by leecotton (log)
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Had an excellent dinner there last Friday evening.

Did the seven course tasting menu and it was as equally wonderful as it was in Ludlow.

But one thing to note if contemplating such a seeming marathon is that the job was done in a little over two hours which compares with about twice as long in Ludlow. Food came slightly too fast for even an oinking glutton such as myself. And that is my sole criticism apart from that peculiar hibiscus cordial (with smoked olive oil!) that comes first. Tis pointless as others have observed.

And its not as if the joint was half empty and the kitchen had little else to do. The place was running at about 80% capacity.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Dinner yesterday.

A question: when is a surprise not a surprise?

We decided we might as well pay £75 for the 'surprise' menu, as the unsurprising version is now £55. We expected to get dishes which were different to everyone else. However, we were surprised to get a long stream of starters, plus main and dessert, from the a la carte. Or, perhaps ironically, that was the surprise?

The amuse has now been changed from the hibiscus cocktail which seems to have been met with universal cries of 'ick, where's the food' to .. an egg. Egg shell resting in a bed of salt, containing a 'lightly poached' (trans. near-raw) egg yolk and a bit of egg white, topped with a potato foam which tasted rather like the skins and some of the surrounding earth had been left on when paco-jetted.

Hmmmm. No cries of delight from the surrounding tables, either, though there were admiring noises about the crockery. According to the bottom of my side plate, it's French and called 'Il Coquet'.

The foie gras icecream arrived as course number 5 (groan) and has been changed slightly, with little puffs of celeriac scattered on top to relieve the gloopiness. We thought they were very like rice krispies.

Best dish was the carpaccio of pollack with black radish. Beautiful to look at, not sweet (at least four of the non-dessert courses were mainly sweet) and lifted by just the right amount of truffle.

Main was Shropshire veal - Shropshire is a nice place and this particular calf had obviously had a very nice life, ending up buttery and full of flavour. Roast potatoes were delicious - at last, something hot. But also on the plate was a small swirl of goats cheese which seemed rather redundant and neither of us bothered to eat it, though we were getting pretty full at this stage (course 6).

Dessert was probably the least successful dish. We had eaten lunch at Apicius the previous day (yes I am terribly spoiled) and Tim's desserts were, as ever, miniature masterpieces. The basil sorbet was a particular stand out. Claude's whinberry cheesecake, on the other hand, was very sweet (aarggh more sweet) and the base tasted just like a factory-made cake. Whinberries, so far as we could tell, are blueberries who didnt make the grade. Came with earl grey icecream, for no particular reason.

Service ranged from excellent (the sommelier who matched the bordeaux perfectly to the veal) to nervous (very young wait staff, possibly new, and who appeared to be scared stiff of forgetting what to say).

Overall, worth the £100+ a head, but it would have been nice to have been just a teensy bit more surprised. And it was all far too reverential, but I guess that's the 'we're just waiting for the Michelin gongs' effect.


PS Faith if you're reading this Steve was completely wrong about the rand, it's 14 to the £ so don't move anything.


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I hope I shouldn't be worried by the fact that I just managed to book a table for four at 7 o'clock on Monday?

Would you rather not have been able to book a table?! :laugh:

It's relatively easy to make short notice reservations in most of London's higher end restaurants.

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i phoned up about 2 weeks ago mid afternoon and was able to secure a 7:30 resevation for that same day ( i think it was a tuesday) however due to a late meeting had to pass up on it. I think it was a late cancellation at their end but it is always worth a shot....

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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