What a way to start this blog, with a birthday treat at a very posh restaurant indeed! I am always slightly worried by restaurants at the upper end of the Michelin scale, with images of prima donna chefs refusing to adulterate their precious creations swimming round in my mind, but once again needlessly. I tend to forget that these restaurants are exclusive precisely because of their excellent service, and more than anyone will know exactly what is in every dish.
We hadn’t told Hibiscus about my diet before arriving but they didn’t hesitate in helping me with the menu, bringing me some olives deliciously marinaded in lime and herbs which almost abated my jealousy in of the Mr’s exquisite smelling rounds of freshly baked bread. They told me to pick anything I liked from the menu and they would adapt. A free choice, what fun!
I waited in the muted and civilised environs with a lovely, lightly scented hibiscus bellini and to my surprise was presented with a tray of warm, toasted gluten free bread with unpasteurised butter! Unlike any i had tasted before in texture as it was much more doughy than the crumbly supermarket offerings I am used to, I speculated that this was home made. The butter was tart, creamy and yougurty.
The main event was frightfully fine, and I apologies for indulging in some of the more unethical options on the menu. The lightest foie gras was served with a rich marmitey crust of tiny cauliflower florets and walnuts, which was cut through by finely sliced green strawberries and a rhubarb compote. Green strawberries are a revelation in this context, being distinctly savoury and yet retaining their essentially strawberryness.
A large veal steak followed, remarkable for the rich, sticky peanut butter sauce that accompanied it. A tiny pot of boulanger potatoes arrived, and whilst beautifully presented were rather too much. We were entertained by a trifley trifle of a ‘pre dessert’ which in the event was more desserty than the real thing. Unfortunately the dessert choices were dominated by millefeuilles and tarts, and whilst the friendly staff offered some alternatives I had already set my heart on the macadamia nut ice-cream. Whilst nice, it made an ill-advised pairing with a rather tart apple sorbet (my fault, not theirs). I feel sure that had we told them about my diet in advance they would have prepared a specific dessert.
I’m so glad it’s possible to still enjoy fine food as a coeliac :)
29, Maddox Street, London, W1S 2PA