So my wonderful husband treated me to a belated birthday dinner on Friday, at L'Autre Pied, the sister restaurant to top restaurateur David Moore's Pied a Terre. How do I know about David Moore? Well, I was totally hooked on the BBC series 'The Restaurant', in which Raymond Blanc offered one couple the chance to open a restaurant with his financial backing; David Moore, his quietly-spoken restaurateur sidekick, hardly ever raised his voice, and only once got truly pissed off with the contestants: watching David's calm yet terrifying display of wrath vented at one hapless guy who couldn't lay out cutlery properly, I was expecting extremely high standards at L'Autre Pied. I wasn't disappointed...
We were finding it impossible to choose between the intricate-sounding dishes, and decided (with about 7 seconds' hesitation) to opt for the 7-course tasting menu...with the accompanying wine tasting menu. Whoops! This ensured that the evening lurched ahead in a bit of a blur, because instead of getting smaller-sized glasses to accompany each course, we were treated to full-sized ones. Thank goodness I took photos of the courses, because I might not have remembered what they were!
In any case, the food was sensational. The photos do not do it justice.
To start, we had an amuse-bouche of a soft-boiled egg with an amazingly savoury chestnut and celeriac reduction. It was rich and intense, and came with two nutty-tasting soldiers of toast for dipping:
A Jerusalem artichoke and hazelnut Velouté, with mushroom vinaigrette and cubes of foie gras (naughty naughty): smoky, nutty and with umami savouriness:
Ham Hock, Smoked Pigeon and Foie Gras Mosaic, Quince Purée Morteau Sausage Jelly:
Roasted Cod, Sweetcorn, Ragout of Chanterelle, Mushrooms, Winter Truffle:
Oops - by this point I was a bit tanked up and forgot to take a photo of the main course: a roasted breast of guineafowl with an amazing sauce...
Cheeses: Goat's cheese, Camenbert, Keen's Cheddar, Stilton with buttery melt-in-the-mouth savoury biscuits and cumin seed-studded flat crackers:
An outrageously good 'pre-dessert' of a vanilla pannacotta with swirls of tart blackcurrant syrup and crunchy dehydrated tangy blackcurrant bits:
Milk Chocolate Mousse, Marmalade Ice Cream - really smooth and velvety. I don't normally like milk chocolate desserts, but this had a satisfying richness and good flavour:
I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants Michelin-star-quality food without the hefty price tag. The seven-course tasting menu was pretty good value at £55 per head, and the matching wine list was around the £35/head mark, which, when you consider you would pay the same if not more for one bottle of wine, this is practically a steal. The service was friendly and very slick, the cutlery was arranged at precise right angles and napkins were artfully folded up for you when you left your seat - hurrah for David Moore and his exacting standards!
5-7 Blandford Street
London W1U 3DB
Tel: 020 7486 9696
* By the way, I am still in shock, several months later, that Raymond Blanc chose to open his new restaurant with those two hilariously useless boys 'JJ' (I mean, really?) and Chris, who dressed like they were in a 1980s Duran Duran video (all big sunglasses, white jackets with sleeves rolled up to the elbow, jaunty tilted caps) and who couldn't cook to save their lives, spending much of the time whooping and high-fiving each other in ostentatious displays of exuberant buddy-love. I mean, seriously? Were the ratings that bad that they had to let those two cartoon characters win? I was sometimes nearly crying with laughter at their attempts to combine 'summer picnic eating' (er...scotch eggs and salad) with trendy cocktails and summer fashions all year round, but wasn't nearly everybody on the programme a better cook? I think that the lovely Chris (the other finalist chef) was completely robbed...