Posted by: mikeydude | February 14, 2010

L’autre Pied Restaurant Review (8/10)

Impeccable Service!

I love a good deal. In this day and age when restaurants are charging such astronomical prices it’s fantastically satisfying when you find yourself a bargain. The Financial Times had an offer on this month where by buying 2 newspapers I was able to dine at a restaurant with my wife and only be charged the total divided by 2 and plus £5. The restaurants available weren’t bad either. However the catch was that it was only available for lunch; except one… L’autre Pied; sister restaurant to the critically acclaimed Pied A Terre (which incidently, I dined at with my wife and father in law about 2 years ago and had a fantastic meal!). Here are my thoughts on this restaurant which is supposed to be less formal and relaxed.

Modern layout with a nice dark minimalistic decor. We arrived slightly early and were greeted from the outset by impeccably trained waiting staff. The head waiter I recognised was previously the same one who served us at Pied A Terre; the Thiery Henry lookalike. We were led to our table and I was immediately impressed with a colourful screen next to the table which emitted a soothing light green glow over our table. Nice touch if you don’t mind green 😀

We decided to go A La Carte as I wanted to try as many different dishes as possible. These days I don’t like tasting menus as everyone gets the same thing for each course. If anything it only tests consistency amongst the same dish. Nahh… I wanted to see what this highly rated young Chef (Eaves) was able to come up with that earned him his star. Annoyingly I forgot to quiz the staff on the produce. My mind was obviously a bit distracted that evening. In any case here is what we ordered.

Bread: Rosemary & Black Olive

There were actually 4 different types of bread; the above 2 and also white & brown breads. I could not fault the waiting staff who didn’t hesitate to offer more as soon as we finished our current ones. Incredibly I managed to eat 3 bread rolls in addition to all the food. The bread itself was nicely warm & fragrant. I particularly enjoyed the black olive bread but still prefer those on offer at our very own Crown @ Celtic Manor. Upon asking the waitress whether the bread was baked on-site there was a prompt reply “of course!”. The butter was superb.

Amuse Bouche: Chestnut & Bacon Cream with Goat’s Milk Foam and Crackers

I loved the way the eggshell was perched on a thrown of arched silver plate! The goat’s cheese foam was surprisingly subtle and totally overpowered by the wonderful aromas produced by the chestnut and bacon flavours. It was delicious and serving it with 2 sticks of ?brown bread crackers just brought back childhood memories for me of having buttered bread soldiers dipped in boiled egg for breakfast. A great start although I don’t think the foam was necessary.

Starter #1: Pan Fried Fois Gras, Turnip & Ginger Cake, Glazed Endive, Baby Wood Sorrel

What a glorious looking dish. There were all kinds of flavours and textures on this plate. The fois gras offered a mild gamey yet fatty texture, whilst the excellent turnip & ginger cake added some sweetness, and the endive the acidity needed to bind the whole thing together. Very good indeed. However the actual let down was the fois gras itself which was slightly overdone and therefore didn’t give that melt-in-mouth delight that I’m so fond of. The resultant slightly rubbery texture really lets the whole dish down. Flavour wise I could not fault the dish, but the technique was slightly off, which is inexcusable for Michelin standards.

Starter #2: Warm Terrine of Pigs Head, Brown Shrimps, Pak Choi, Preserved Apricot Puree

Wow this was delicious. Presentation was nice and neat; I find that Eaves really likes his ‘dotting’ of sauces in an almost matrix pattern for his 2 starter dishes, which to me reminds me of boardgames. I only managed to try the pigs head itself which was so juicy and succulent. It had a wonderful caramelised glaze to it as well which tasted not too dissimilar to chinese roast pork. It was rather fatty but this just added to the wonderful flavours of this fine dish.

Main #1: Steamed & Roasted Saddle of Rabbit, Swede Fondants, Swede & Honey Puree, Pommery Mustard Jus

Judging from other reviews, it seems that rabbit is one of the favourites of this restaurant. I marvel at how the kitchen have managed to produce such fantastically tender meat from such a lean animal. Obviously these were the finest cuts of rabbit (loin/rib) along with kidney but it still takes skill to pull off such a beautiful texture, presumably created by combinations of steam and roasting. The flavour was almost spot on as well although the swede fondants were a little overseasoned. I wasn’t too fussed on the cheese herb ball like things. Not sure what they were exactly but they were definitely too salty and overpowering to complement the subtle tastes of ‘lapin’! Nevertheless fine technique on display here.

Main #2: Slow Cooked Veal Cheek and Crispy Tongue, Saute Globe Artichokes, Apple Cider Sauce

Apologies for the slightly fuzzy picture. Chef once again did well here as he received praise from my wife who usually isn’t keen on ‘stew’ like meats at all. I liked the contrasting colours of juices arranged in rings around the plate. Almost looks like a pizza! The braised cheek just fell apart with the slightest pressure from cutlery. It was absolutely full of flavour from gentle infusion over the slow cooking process. I also tried the crispy tongue which was delicious; tasted a bit like pancetta with more flavour and bite. Excellent although my wife did comment that again the sauces were perhaps a little overseasoned.

Dessert #1: Baked Alaska, Lemon Thyme Ice Cream, Poached Red Wine Pears

I only tried one mouthful of this. Last time I had this was around 3 years ago in Abergavenny where they set the meringue on fire at the table to burn off the alcohol. This was slightly different in the sense the meringue is cooked in the oven (?). In any case the final presentation of a spiky meringue cylinder looking not too dissimilar to my current hairstyle seated on pears poached in a red wine sauce was welcoming to look at. It didn’t taste bad either; the sweetness of the meringue combining well with the slight sour tastes of the red wine juice and pear. The wife appeared to enjoy this as well, although as I’ve stressed so many times in the past, offer her a chocolate mud cake and I’m certain of which one she would go for….

Dessert #2: Passionfruit Souffle, Mango Sorbet

Nine times out of ten I will pick a souffle for dessert if I saw one! Technically so challenging to make and yet deliciously light when combined with the correct flavours. I also love them for the diversity of flavours that they can present as; in this case passionfruit. The execution of this french classic was flawless. The tower had risen to a good height, the sponge was wonderfully light, and the passionfruit flavours had integrated well. The chopped pistacchio topping added a whole new dimension to the dessert thanks to its unique earthy nuttiness. In any case I think I still prefer the more milder tasting souffles served with creamy ice-creams. The sorbet was a little bit on the sour side for me, but then I’ve never been the biggest fan of sorbets!

All in all a great meal! The final bill came up to an unbelievable £67.75 after discount including a glass of white, orange juice, and service (and what fantastic service this was). The ambiance was nicely mellow and the waiting staff fantastically attentive without being obtrusive. The restaurant is doing well; about three quarters full by the time we left at around 8:30. The cooking demonstrated fantastic technique and creativity. My only criticisms were the slightly overdone foie gras, as well as overgenerosity of seasoning in a few of the dishes.

Now then; the killer question; would I come here again? Possibly, but I have a major gripe. I just can’t categorise this restaurant. It is definitely more relaxed than the Pied A Terre, but it is still no bistro. I would still define it fine-dining. But then if you are advertising your restaurant as being an informal eatery, then why are the prices still charged at fine-dining rates? I could eat at the Pied A Terre for almost the same price, which Michelin reckons offers the better cooking. Hmmmmm… tough one then, and I’m still pondering. Nevertheless the most important thing remains; I had a great dinner with the Mrs.


Contact:

L’autre Pied
5-7 Blandford Street
London W1U 3DB

020 7486 9696

Opening Hours:

Lunch
Monday to Friday 12.00pm – 2.45pm
Saturday 12.00pm – 2.30pm
Sunday 12.00pm – 3.30pm

Dinner
Monday to Saturday 6.00pm – 10.45pm
Sunday 6.30pm – 9.30pm

http://www.lautrepied.co.uk/

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