Fera @ Claridges
We have wanted to eat Simon Rogan's food for sometime, so were delighted when we heard he was opening in Claridges. We were not disappointed either as the tasting menu on the whole was of a high quality with dishes ranging between average and excellent. The best dishes were cauliflower dumplings which were rich, warming and moreish. A serving of veal tartare was beautifully balanced with apple and kohlrabi. And a dessert of figs with gingerbread was a perfect ending to the meal. The worst dish was sea bass with crosnes, razor clams and leak, which was disjointed and lacked cohesion - the crosnes adding nothing to the dish. The food was seasonal and regional, but sometimes the dishes fell short of the mark on taste. The dining room is large and impersonal and the food would be more suited to an intimate setting with a closer connection to the kitchen. In all the highlights of the meal far outweighed the lows and a Saturday in Claridges isn't a bad way to spend an evening.
We don't know much about Peruvian food and this was our first experience of it, so we have no real comparison for our experience in Lima Floral. It seems that balance is key to Peruvian cuisine with mingling delicate and strong flavours paramount . This was evident throughout the meal, none more so than the beautiful sea bream tiradito starter which married delicate raw fish with a spicy sauce. Another highlight was the earthy black quinoa main, but perhaps the best dish was the sweet potato dessert which had the perfect amount of sweetness. Our lunch was extremely good with each dish being light, vibrant, flavoursome and extremely moreish. It is easy to see that this food in the wrong hands could be a serious let-down as it takes skill and a refined palette to get the balance and execution right. If our meal is an indication of Peruvian food, it is no wonder Peru is becoming such a gastronomic hotspot - a visit to Lima (the city, not the restaurant), may be on the cards in the near future.
Our lunch in Hibiscus was, despite some very nice servings, probably the most disappointing meal of our four day trip to London. The lunch started well with two very nice starters. Pork belly and lobster ravioli with frozen raspberries was interesting with a sharp contrast of both flavour and temperature, but it didn't leave you wanting more. A very autumnal pumpkin soup with blue cheese was very warming, slightly sweet with a lovely nuttiness from the blue cheese. The mains were also quite good, especially a beautiful serving of veal cheek. But it was the two desserts that let this lunch down. Roast figs with whiskey ice cream was very dull; the ice cream was too subtle and the figs lacked flavour. The other dessert was worse though; crema de birro panna cotta with lychee and black sesame was let down both by an unpleasant yeasty flavour and by a lack of texture. The pre-desserts, amuse bouches and petit-fours were some of the best on our trip and the service was excellent. Another plus were excellent and very reasonably priced wine pairings. Our overall impression was that when they get a dish right it could be amazing, but now and again it might go a bit awry.