Scaled-back, refined cooking from Frederick Forster brings seasonal ingredients to the fore in a sophisticated menu at the London Shoreditch mini-empire. Janet Harmer pays a visit
Frederick Forster's credentials are impeccable. Not only has he worked alongside some of the most legendary personalities in the business, including Raymond Blanc, Gordon Ramsay, Michel Roux Jr, Simon Rogan and John Williams, but he is also a past winner of the Roux Scholarship (2000) and National Chef of the Year (2011).
Now he is drawing upon his extensive experience to make a name for himself in his own right as head chef of Boundary restaurant in London's Shoreditch.
Forster hopes that giving the classic French menu a lighter touch and more finesse will help establish a more prominent profile for the fine-dining restaurant, which is located in the basement of a late Victorian warehouse.
Behind the glass-walled kitchen, Forster and his brigade of seven chefs can be seen preparing the Á la carte menu, which is available at lunch and dinner. "It constantly evolves," Forster explains. "Not one week goes by without at least one dish changing, depending on the best ingredients in season."
For instance, white asparagus is currently at its peak, and Forster is serving it as a simple starter accompanied by Bayonne ham, quail eggs and truffle dressing (£14.50), while lobster is poached and served with Jersey royal potatoes, peas, broad beans and a lobster cream (£18/£36).
"We like to keep things straightforward as we believe that is the best way to serve quality produce," says Forster. Hence, the main item of each dish is always allowed to sing loud and clear, unmasked by extraneous components.
The sweetest scallops are served with a salt cod beignet for a salty contrast, along with a light vinaigrette made from olive oil and white wine vinegar infused with coriander seeds and star anise (£16). Grapefruit segments and fennel add a hint of acidity.
Among the main courses, a beef dish contrasts a lightly poached fillet with a deeply intense short rib, which had been marinated in red wine and slow cooked for four hours. The meat is shredded to create a paste-like filling for a tortellini, and the dish is brought together by a broth made from water, red wine, and chicken and veal stocks, along with a selection of wild mushrooms and spring vegetables. "I like to use water instead of a heavy beef stock in a sauce like this to lighten the whole dish," explains Forster.
A shoulder of Pyrenean milk-fed lamb roasted with nothing more than olive oil, garlic and parsley, and then served with Jersey Royals and ProvenÁ§al vegetables (£70 for two) is typical of Forster's approach. "A lamb shoulder is the kind of cut that chefs like to stuff with a mousse and wrap in crépinette, but why do that when you can select the very best lamb and allow it to sing on its own?" he says.
Like the rest of the menu, the desserts are Forster's versions of classics, including an intensely flavoured, light-as-a-feather passion fruit soufflé enlivened by a hint of orange marmalade and a passion fruit sorbet (£9.50). Other impressive offerings include shortbread with anise cream, cherries marinated in Port and a Morello cherry sorbet (£10).
Trollies of charcuterie (£13 per head) and cheese (£11 for a selection from La Fromagerie of Marylebone) provide a traditional touch in an unconventional space, which features brick arches from the original building.
Christopher Delalonde, UK Sommelier of the Year 2010, and previously of Claridge's and the Square, oversees the 750-bin wine list, heavily focused on France and Italy, with great aplomb.
Average spend from the menu, which features 10 starters, eight main courses and eight desserts, is £70 per head, including wine.
Sample dishes from the menu
Starters Frogs' legs, stuffed courgette flower, girolles and broad beans £16 Slow-cooked duck liver, Sauternes jelly £16.50 Spinach and Saint-Marcellin cheese ravioli, slow-cooked hen egg £13
Main courses Roast Landais pigeon, seared foie gras, Alsace bacon and Madeira sauce £30 Roast and braised veal, potato croquette, white asparagus and mustard sauce £34 Pan-fried turbot, squid, samphire and artichokes £29
Desserts Chocolate shell, vanilla cream and coffee ice-cream £10 Caramelised upside-down peach tart, thyme ice-cream £9 Meringue, salted caramel and peanut, poached rhubarb £10
Boundary Restaurant and Bar
2-4 Boundary Street
London E2 7DD
Tel: 020 7729 1051www.theboundary.co.uk