Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Bacchus, Shoreditch


Recommended Posts

I'm still meaning to write up the delicious meal I had back in March!  It'll have to wait until I get broadband set up at home...

Cat, unless you intend uploading lots of hi rez pics, I think you'll find posting quite possible even with dial up 56k

Thing to do is write it in Notepad or similar off line and in your own time, then cut and paste the text in when you come to the forum. You can be in and out in a flash!

Or am I missing the point? Perhaps you have no connection at all at home.

S

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Here are the new prices:

we will no longer offer an a la carte menu. Instead we will have a 9-course set menu from which customers can choose to have either 3, 6 or 9 courses.

3-courses - £25

6-courses - £40

9-courses - £60

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i would be very interested to hear what reaction the set menu has created as here in the north west, i get enough grief when i do a senses menu evening and people ring for just ala carte :wacko: though it is great for food control and turning produce over,so you have only the freshest materials in your fridges id love to do it, but first i must hire somebody to take the calls though lol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope this menu works for them. My own experience eating there was that they were not concentrating on getting a set of dishes 'right' but were chopping and changing the menu to hit the bullseye.

This is the culinary equivalent of 'chasing the error' in target shooting - moving and adjusting the sights, instead of concentrating on getting a tight, overlapping, group of holes anywhere on the target (which means one is shooting consistently well) and only then adjusting the sights to come onto the bull.

Not an analogy many people will make I suppose. Sorry about that but it makes sense to me as both a reasonable critic and a middling marksman

!

S

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope this menu works for them. My own experience eating there was that they were not concentrating on getting a set of dishes 'right' but were chopping and changing the menu to hit the bullseye.

This is the culinary equivalent of 'chasing the error' in target shooting -  moving and adjusting the sights, instead of concentrating on getting a tight, overlapping, group of holes anywhere on the target (which means one is shooting consistently well) and only then adjusting the sights to come onto the bull.

Not an analogy many people will make I suppose. Sorry about that but it makes sense to me as both a reasonable critic and a middling marksman

!

S

I'd agree but would add I think they've also done it to try to help smooth out some of the kinks with the service which has been my main gripe for my last few trips.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think this a wise move in terms of smoothing out the service and getting consistency in the execution, which has also been my only minor complaint of previous visits. From a business perspective I suspect it also has the advantage of tempting more people into 6 courses (or 9 for those that would have gone for 6 anyway).

The obvious downside is that you may scare off those who require more choice (or groups of people with a fussy eater who requires a relatively plain option), but then I doubt that this change will worry the return customer base or most potential first time visitors who would have gone on the basis of the old menu (and I can't imagine Phil get's much passing trade given th location!).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
Bump.

Anyone been lately?

I went on Saturday, I thought it was very good. The menu appeared to be less experimental than reviews suggested it might be. I posted some thoughts on their forum, if you're interested. Basic conclusion: I felt I had to engage my taste buds much more than usual.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just tried the latest 9-course menu at Bacchus and thought it was time for a new write-up. They are changing the menu monthly now, and currently doing a half-price offer on food. It was my second visit; overall I found pretty much the same combination of hits (either sublime or just pleasingly weird) and misses as on the previous occasion. Also, although there are still more than enough varieties of crunchy powder scattered about, they have mercifully reduced the tendency from the nearly-every-dish level of the previous menu.

We began with three bread/amuses, at least some of which were familiar from my last visit. The soft, doughy saffron-egg bread is served hot and is very good, more of an omelette than a bread in fact; there was also a thin crispy strip with black olive and coffee which was very effective, and some crostini presumably to be dipped in the nicely dark, dense substance (olive/caramel/coffee? two out of three aint bad) provided in a separate dish. The amuse proper, a cube of something like panna-cotta but with a strong seafood flavour, topped with a seaweed jelly, was almost overpoweringly rich /sea-flavoured, but was saved by the accompanying micro-herbs, which gave a strong injection of aniseed. Interesting rather than sublime, but worked well. The cocktail we ordered from the list of two (green bubble bath something or other??) was not available so we had to endure straightforward champagne… it’s tough, I know. Onto the tasting menu courses proper:

Warm tuna toast. A small slab of tuna gradient-filled as to cookedness - raw on one side, cooked on the other, at which it was attached to a slice of fried bread ‘toast’. Served with hijiki fennel and various other bits... nice spicy sort of cherries… this dish had a great umami hit, far-eastern overtones, not especially sophisticated in flavour or texture but an enjoyable combination. Presentation was excellent -- I think overall presentation has improved since my last visit in the summer.

Yuzu crab. Wonderful, I love yuzu and although prominent there was enough restraint so as not to completely overpower the crab. Lemongrass gel was served in thin sheets that effectively acted as ravioli to the crab, as well as extending in a stylish manner across the serving dish. Coral crumbs and tobiko were as effective as you would expect, and shitake added a subtly disparate savoury note for interest. Sublime.

Calamar a la plancha with squid ink porridge. This was real oat porridge, albeit black, and worked very well. Coconut gelled cubes gave a subtle but required relief from the salty umami-seafood flavours (becoming perhaps over-familiar after the last two courses and the amuse). Good but not outstanding, and I did feel it was a bit over-salted.

Confit potatoes with 25 minute quail eggs, roasted potato jus, yoghurt foam… This was fabulous. Completely obscene. Goes against received culinary conventions about offsetting richness and oily textures… three intact but very runny egg yolks and three balls of soft yoghurt foam slipping over oil and jus, with just a couple of very thin, waxy potato slices so as to provide minimal relief from the oily/yolky textures; this served with a smear of dense, black olive migas (which seemed to have an undertone of truffle)… no bread to accompany… an ordeal in richness and yolkness, but one that leaves you grinning.

Hot foie gras mousse. Definite miss. Seemed more like a somewhat veiny slab of foie, not what I’d term a mousse -- perhaps this refers to the cooking technique, which left all but the veins extremely soft and, to my palate, not at all pleasant.

Wild sea bass. This came with a slightly sweet aubergine consommé, which was very good although not exactly ‘essence of aubergine’, rather a derived, more caramelised sort of flavour. The fish was cooked to the correct degree, and combined well with the aubergine and lemon; the only thing that didn’t work was the deep fried crispy mange tout skins -- there were far too many of these and the texture was too unsubtle against the sea bass; also they added too much bitterness. I’d have preferred the bulk of the mange tout to be incorporated into the dish in another less texturally conflicting way, and then a very small amount of the crispy mange tout added.

Suckling pig. Excellent, albeit not particularly unconventional (e.g. roasted figs with soft iberico ham iirc), but the almond basil powders on the plate added a distinctive note and worked well.

Roasted nectarines. Not much in the way of nectarine, and came with a fromage blanc and champagne gelee… sounds good but the flavour combination just didn’t work for me, the champagne and nectarines conflicted and the overly goaty notes of the fromage blanc did no good at all; there was a certain bitterness to the nectarines too.

Pistachio custard. The custard itself was sound, but the “wrapping of milk” was rather like a cold, dense version of the skin you get on hot milk drinks, may be just me but I wasn’t keen on this. Rhubarb flavour was not as pronounced as I’d have liked. Not a bad dessert overall, but couldn't really compete with the wonderful one I had last time… forget the details, chocolate and something floral, rose perhaps, were involved I think?

The wine pairings were generally effective and interesting, although not outstanding. I did find myself fancying a change to red a bit earlier, suitably light and slightly chilled if appropriate, as it’s a lot of consecutive whites otherwise. The wine with the confit potatoes (austrian?) didn't work for me with the quail's eggs, bit too fragrant... but hard to say what wine would work well really. I did wonder how a manzanilla might go.

As before, great place, nice relaxed service and some very exciting food. Doesn't reach the level of consistency and assuredness of top-end places, and I don't think it's just the psychological effect of the latter’s choreographed service and upmarket decor... but then again, you could do the bargain mini-tasting lunch at Foliage (which I'd very strongly recommend at the moment btw) and the half-price 9-courser here for the same food price as a top-end evening tasting menu, and get the best of both worlds. Plus, for the numerically minded, twice the aggregate course count ;)

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

Went tonight for the 7-course tasting menu (it is now 5 or 7 courses).

Very good overall, not as "crazy" as people make it, everything actually works quite well (for a classical Frenchman).

Highlights: perfect shellfish, cheap (£60 for 7 courses), I walked out feeling just full, healthy, but not stuffed like is normally the case. After we told them we came there because of eG Nuno came and asked us what we thought. Seats were comfortable, and the toilets had a whiff of pine that reminded me of the air in a pine forest, absolutely amazing!

The food is innovative, but most importantly it WORKS. Somebody scared by anything vaguely strange would have been fine eating most of the dishes. Lovely "crescendo" towards plate no. 6 and then dessert.

Points to improve on: out of 3 red mullets, two were perfectly cooked, the third was a repeat of the first course ("kingfish sashimi"). Also, the wine pairings were very simple, for £35 I expected more. Mostly young (2005-07), all white bar no. 6 (a NZ pinot noir, that was quite dull to be honest). The lamb replacing the venison ("we couldn't find any of the standard we wanted") was tough, again not all three lambs were cooked to the same level. Please get rid of the stuff the petits fours came on, it tasted like straw!

Overall, I had a great time. The food was very good (that's what's most important), friendly service. I'd say (if anybody from Bacchus is reading this) please change at least wine no. 6 to something special (e.g. 7-8+ yo Burgundy), I was looking forward to it as a "climax", as it's the only red!

Two more reviews should be coming up soon ;)

We ate (descriptions based on my memory, not the menu!):

Amuse 1: parmesan puff (much better than Hibiscus'), crispy thin African wafer covered in cinnamon, then a flat thin biscotte, with a red pepper dip. Simple, delicious.

Amuse 2: porridge and cream cheese with a mushroom consome. I loved it; others really didn't.

Dish 1: kingfish sashimi with various strawberry creations and crunchy almond powder. The biscuit under the sashimi was not necessary. Not sure about whether the strawberry works but it was fairly decent. Served with a boring dry white. The cube of foie gras was awesome - it definitely felt bigger than it looked.

Dish 2: Rhubarb and clam chawanmushi. An egg, white but very soft (low temp?), with some soft mousse underneath. Two asparagus stems. Three clams. One very thin, amazingly flavourful rhubarb crisp. Loved it.

Dish 3: Oysters and onions old but new. Oyster tartare on another of those thin biscotti type crackers, with shallot (?) cracker on top. Underneath, onion soup, and the elBulli alganate olive except with onion soup (i.e. a soft crust containing a dollop of soup, eat in one go). Not much oyster, but what was there had flavour, that's for sure. Again, loved the dish. This came with a ginger sake which wasn't that memorable.

Dish 4: Umami - del mar a la Montagna - memories of San Sebastian. Highlight of the night (which the inexistent venison should have been!). Langoustine tail on a soft pork jowl, in a mushroom-iberico jus. That jus was just fantastic. The wine may have been a bit more interesting for once. Can't remember by that point.

Dish 5: Red mullet. Came with... courgette flower over a mound of crab meat, liquorice "jelly" cubes, coconut "jelly/foam" cube (not sure which!), a cracker on top, in a thin safran soup/sauce. The cracker on top of the red mullet, I assume, refers to Pike in crust of salt, but it really didn't work for me so I ate the cracker and then the mullet (much better). The coconut cube had a strong kaffir lime flavour, or maybe my taste buds were playing with me.

Dish 6: should have been the venison loin. Lamb with two thin slices of scallop sashimi (spiced up with minute amounts of an invisible and red powder). "Study of peas" saw peas as peas, a cracker (interestingly addictive), a sauce, and accompanied by a caramelised rhubarb sauce. The lamb was too rough for my tastes, perhaps it is supposed to be chewy. The rest of the dish worked very well!

Came with a very dull, very New World pinot noir from NZ. Waitress: "has [whoever served us the wine] explained the wine?" "no" (we asked him to get us the election results!) "ah. It's a New Zealand pinot noir. Enjoy!". What was the point of that? Also, perhaps I am not refined enough to appreciate a pinot noir yet (or at least one outside Bourgogne). But I had been looking forward to it for the whole meal...

Dish 7: white chocolate mousse on a soft cake base, with a small spot of black olive "chutney" (that's what it looked like!), "iced ginger milk" ice cream (just a very cold ginger ice cream), decoration, and a mango sauce. Very acceptable! Came with a Moscatel with a nose of petrol. It was quite pleasant, wouldn't have minded a full glass for once. Our non-wine pairing colleague got a free tasting glass, thanks Bacchus!

Petits fours: Catalan custard in a shot glass, almond financier, and a truffle "to be had last". The truffle was white inside, and quite pleasant (thanks to the wine pairing I missed out on any subtleties!) and the financier was, well, a biscuit. But the Catalan custard was the best of the three.

The espresso was a bit bitter, a shame considering the care taken in preparing the rest of the meal. It was still relatively fresh, definitely better than chain coffee shops. Maybe Bacchus could roast its own beans? Now THAT would be cool.

Edited by Roger le goéland (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went tonight for the 7-course tasting menu (it is now 5 or 7 courses).

Very good overall, not as "crazy" as people make it, everything actually works quite well (for a classical Frenchman).

Highlights: perfect shellfish, cheap (£60 for 7 courses), I walked out feeling just full, healthy, but not stuffed like is normally the case. After we told them we came there because of eG Nuno came and asked us what we thought. Seats were comfortable, and the toilets had a whiff of pine that reminded me of the air in a pine forest, absolutely amazing!

The food is innovative, but most importantly it WORKS. Somebody scared by anything vaguely strange would have been fine eating most of the dishes. Lovely "crescendo" towards plate no. 6 and then dessert.

Points to improve on: out of 3 red mullets, two were perfectly cooked, the third was a repeat of the first course ("kingfish sashimi"). Also, the wine pairings were very simple, for £35 I expected more. Mostly young (2005-07), all white bar no. 6 (a NZ pinot noir, that was quite dull to be honest). The lamb replacing the venison ("we couldn't find any of the standard we wanted") was tough, again not all three lambs were cooked to the same level. Please get rid of the stuff the petits fours came on, it tasted like straw!

Overall, I had a great time. The food was very good (that's what's most important), friendly service. I'd say (if anybody from Bacchus is reading this) please change at least wine no. 6 to something special (e.g. 7-8+ yo Burgundy), I was looking forward to it as a "climax", as it's the only red!

Two more reviews should be coming up soon ;)

The first amuse; 'Rosewater Nitro', was very refreshing and novel. The second, however, a cheesy porridge-mushroom dish was not to my liking at all. The bread very nice although I would have liked their cinnamon filo to have had some sort of sweet accompaniment, possibly a tub of nutella.

The first course was for me the worst of the lot. The kingfish sashimi was very nice but I didn't feel the combination with strawberries worked well and it appeared to be resting on a crumbled up Mini-Cheddar. Also there was foie gras, I think I've only ever enjoyed foie once (at Sat Bains) and this didn't change my mind.

The next few were all very nice, although the 'Umami' course could have done with a bit less salt. The lamb, as my esteemed friend Mr Legoland said, was tough, the dish would have worked better with venison.

I thought Chawanmushi was the best course - a Japanese egg custard dish, 'deconstructed' - and the red mullet was delicious. Dessert was fine too, although the white chocolate 'mouse' didn't taste of white chocolate, a good thing really as I don't like the stuff at all.

The wine, well, it was seven glasses of wine for £35. They did very well considering what they were charging, but I wouldn't have objected to paying 50 for something a bit of special in at least a couple of glasses.

Overall it was a very nice and enjoyable meal with some really interesting dishes. I think the main criticism I can level at them is a tendency to put too much on the plate: kingfish sashimi could have lost the crumbled up biscuity thing, and the foie gras (although I know to be taken seriously as a fine-dining restaurant in the western hemisphere you've got to find a way to put some foie gras on the plate). I'd also consider replacing the strawberry with something like mango.

The red mullet was wonderful (although as mentioned by the Frenchman, one of them was somewhat undercooked), but the 'toast' it came with didn't work and I thought the crab was unecessary. The coconut tofu, however, was excellent and went brilliantly with the fish.

Umami was very nice and could have been superb if he'd held off a little on the salt, I could provide more examples but you get the point.

We were very pleased for a chance to meet the chef - the first time I've been at a restaurant and the chef has come out for a chat - he seems like a very nice guy, with a pretty impressive resume. And his favourite restaurant is Mugaritz.

Overall I think it's worth 7/10, which is pretty good going by my standards. There are some great ideas, they have a good staff and are obviously very able cook but there's a tendency to over-complicate things and a bit too much of a 'look at all these things we can do!' attitude that detracts a little from the real point of the dishes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Just an update for those who might not have seen the news on Bacchus' website. The restaurant will be moving (aka closing until next year) and the last service at the current location (177 Hoxton Street) is Sat, Aug 9th, 2008. More about that and the relaunched Bacchus Pub & Kitchen in the current space can be found on their website: http://www.bacchus-restaurant.co.uk/

In the meantime, I also had the pleasure of visiting the restaurant and Chef Mendez's cooking back in early June (it was a highlight during my gastronomic tour of London). I've been tardy with the post, but it's all found in this photoset - impressions and all.

Here's a small teaser for those who haven't been and can still reach the dining room before they close (until 2009 of course).

2607792594_f5e4164948_d.jpg

Bread Selection

2607812858_36d116327f_d.jpg

Chef Bonus: Sweet Prawns, Seared Watermelon, Pistachios, Rosewater Foam and Milk Yuba

2613548938_92cb50bf25_d.jpg

Umami: Del Mar la Montagna – Memories of San Sebastian

... and the amazing

2613555626_1956e29bf7_d.jpg

Red Mullet Toast and Liquorice

(I spoke to Chef Mendez about this afterwards, and he noted that he was trying to achieve a thin crispy skin like that of fried fish, but with the moist delicate flavour of a steamed poached fillet. I think he actually got that combination by the time it hit my plate :smile: )

Now I'm wishing I could drop by again...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is indeed sad that they close, but from my experience their food do not work very well in a Pub-like atmosphere. My last meal was ecellent, clearly on 1*-level which they will never get in this location. As the sous Jordi has told me the next location will be better... I see a huge potential in Nuno!

Best

IFS

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No question you are right. Any justice in the world would have brought Nuno his first star, but not under these circumstances. It was a very unfortunate choice of location, although I personally enjoyed the informality of the pub setting and that is very much part of the ethos. Several other problems, not least of which is the service kitchen size and lack of a production area. Nuno has talked to me about his ambitions for the future, but nothing is concrete at this stage other than the certainty that, sooner or later, he will be back in London heading up the kitchen team in a new and improved fine dining establishment. I just hope the new incarnation doesn't exclude the foodie community and settle for traditional wealthy clientele.

Edited by Aidan Brooks (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aidan,

I'd be interested to know anything you can glean from tonight's drink as to new premises, timescales etc. I loved Bacchus when it opened, although haven't been back recently and look forward to seeing what Nuno can do in expanded premises....

Gav

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aidan,

I'd be interested to know anything you can glean from tonight's drink as to new premises, timescales etc. I loved Bacchus when it opened, although haven't been back recently and look forward to seeing what Nuno can do in expanded premises....

Always sad when a place closes. When I went there a while back I felt chef was trying to run before he could walk or, as the French say, fart higher than his arse.

Plenty of people in London are prepared to pay for style over substance but the location was not ideal to get them in any numbers.

I expect both chef and owner have learned an awful lot from the experience and will come back the stronger for it.

S

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

As some of you may know, in early August Bacchus became Bacchus Pub and Kitchen, still under Nuno's ownership but with chef Richard Tewnion turning out good value, high end pub food. We had a great meal there in August, with perfect potted shrimps and unctuous mushrooms with deep fried polenta. However we were one of just two tables eating there, and Richard admitted business was very slow as the denizens of Hoxton are not prepared to pay £16 for a steak, no matter how chunky and hand cut the accompanying chips may be.

So, as yesterday we had to meet a friend who (for reasons best known to himself) lives in Stoke Newington, we suggested meeting up at BP&K. How disappointed we were, on arrival, to see the kitchen dark and a new face behind the bar. Nuno and Philip have sold on to some new people, who thus far have stocked the wine fridge with just one white, one rose and one sparkling, all at West End prices. It's still called Bacchus, for the time being, and the new bloke said they were trying to find a chef to do similar things as Richard, at the same price points. I said I thought this probably wouldn't work.

So, a warning to any chef looking for a gastropub stint in London. Don't go to Bacchus, even if they offer you the flat above the pub. And if anyone knows the whereabouts of Richard T, please let me know as I think he has a knack of turning out simple but deeply pleasing dishes and I'd like to eat his potted shrimp again.

Sarah

Sarah

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Battleofthebulge's post had me wondering...has anyone heard anything more about what Chef Nuno is doing?

I remember reading something about a tea-tasting with him, but nothing else really.

Yes see my thread from a while ago here:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...8382&hl=bethnal

Sarah

Actually I had read that at the time.

Was just curious if anything new had been heard.

Cheers.

Food Snob

foodsnob@hotmail.co.uk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...