Kitchen Table 2

Second time round and I know the drill: Perch on a stool with a glass of champagne in hand, perusing the various hotdog toppings whilst you wait to be shown through the back curtain. The excitement heats the bottom of your hungry belly as you are guided to one of the 19 seats that line the chrome worktops bent around the chef’s kitchen. Under spotlights, young enthusiastic chefs meticulously prepare each course and give you a little spiel before serving. It’s an intimate experience where you have the pleasure of interacting with head chef James Knappett and his talented team.

There are two sittings per night of 12-14 courses, announced on the day depending on what ingredients are in-season. On this evening (a birthday dinner treat), we started with the unusual combination of a piece of fresh watermelon, chewy beef tendon and flavourful tomato water jelly.

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We then had an airy light potato wafer made from dehydrated potato water and topped with smoked salmon, sour cream and chives.

IMG_0794 Next up was a carefully presented plate of carrots with mascarpone that overshadowed any carrot flavour. Followed by a piece of crusty dehydrated chicken skin with light mascarpone, and sticky sweet bacon jam.

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Too often overlooked, good bread and butter is an accolade to any menu, and in this one it featured as a separate course. Soft, warm buttery parker house rolls with whipped pig fat butter and bee pollen. MD said if I could bake buns like that, he would propose. (I’m working on it… more on my baking escapades in future posts)!

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A fish course next with citrus, earthy and fresh notes of lemon verbena, oyster leaf, and dragons egg cucumber (google it if you haven’t seen one).

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Beautiful raw trout neck curled up on a bed of turnips, topped with candied lemon skin that was also infused into the smooth (very salty) miso dip.IMG_0805

Mouth-watering buttery lobster was being prepared on the tables in front, I couldn’t wait for this dish of slow cooked lobster with sauce from the brains and shell infused with wild garlic from London, ginger and brown butter. Yummm… The garlic flower buds had been pickled for two years and were fruity and salty.

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We were then served a ‘bonus course’, taking the muscle attached to the lamb rump, making a sauce from it and layering it onto homemade macaroni pasta with mint, marinated tomatoes from the garden, star anise and vanilla. It was rustic, but delicious.

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The main course was well-balanced featuring the jowl, back and cheek of meaty pork, barbequed and braised with gooseberries, sweet tropea onions and green almonds.

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Light, creamy burrata from Puglia was our first dessert with cherries, black peppercorns, basil and pickled English damson plums.

Followed by balsamic vinegar ice cream, with artichokes and fresh truffles.

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Then red and black raspberries with sweet meadow cream and scattered with pollen.

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I was the previous unusual sweets, but I was particularly inspired by the final strawberries with peas and mint. We’ve seen some successful desserts recently using the natural sweetness from peas and green beans to balance ripe fruits or sugary chocolate.

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Finally some caramel squares, and a special birthday choc-ice for me!

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