Rising star Andy McFadden is showing his quality as head chef by creating innovative and stylish dishes. Kerstin Kühn had a taste of his culinary style
When Andy McFadden left his role of junior sous chef at Pied à Terre in 2010 for the three-Michelin-starred Oud Sluis in the Netherlands, he didn't expect to be called back to London a few months later to head up L'Autre Pied.
His chance came when head chef Marcus Eaves left L'Autre Pied to replace Shane Osborn at sister restaurant Pied à Terre last March. A year on, McFadden has started to make his mark on the Marylebone restaurant, having quietly retained its Michelin star last October.
However, the 26-year-old chef is adamant that he hasn't developed his cooking style just yet and that his food is still a work in progress. "I don't like it when young chefs talk about their personal style. It takes years to develop your true identity and I don't think I'm there yet," he says. "I think I'm starting to have my own flavours come in but the presentation and everything else is still changing all the time."
Although he only spent a few months in Holland, Oud Sluis head chef Sergio Herman and the typical Flemish flavours of bitter and sour tastes have definitely made an impact on his cooking. They are evident in a dish of ceviche of pollock, which is currently on the tasting menu - priced at £67.50 per person for nine courses.
"I'm trying to work more closely with citrus flavours and acidity and Buddha's hand [a Japanese citrus fruit] is great as it's got a really intense flavour," McFadden explains. Mizuna cream and frisée lettuce lend the dish a bitter note, while crispy rye bread provides a nice textural contrast.
Meanwhile, squid linguini, also on the tasting menu, is a reluctant signature dish. "I don't want to have a signature dish because I always want to continue to strive for new ideas," the chef says.
Large squid is frozen and sliced into long strips before being flash-fried on the plancha and seasoned with salt and pepper, lemon oil, lemon zest and lemon juice.
Again, served with gremolata, smoked anchovies and semi-dried grapes it is bitter sweet with roasted pine nuts adding texture.
Among the starters on the à la carte are classic combinations like scallops and suckling pork belly served with Roscoff onions, toasted hazelnuts and Jerusalem artichoke velouté (£14.50); or Herefordshire snails wrapped in parsley mousse, Morteau sausage, shallot confit and anchovy sauce. "I take something classic and make it a bit more modern, move it on," McFadden says.
Main courses include BBQ squab pigeon (£28.50) served with pommes soufflés, toasted hay, aubergine and garlic purée, sage and walnut jus; or saddle of Sika deer cooked in cocoa served with parsley root cake, red cabbage, shaved chestnuts and rosemary sauce (£27.50).
"My supplier (Vicars Game) gets me a whole deer, which is amazing and not even that much more expensive than just buying the haunch," McFadden says.
"Yes, it's a lot more mise en place, but you then get to put venison on the lunch menu. Plus the guys in the kitchen are learning butchering skills," he enthuses.
Onto desserts and one of the favourites is bitter sweet chocolate crème, whisky and espresso granita and macademia nut mousse (£7.50).
"It's based on a dessert from Pierre Hermé's book, a chocolate crème with rum granita, whipped cream and rice crispies. I didn't really fancy that but I liked the base so I adapted it to incorporate whisky and macademia nuts," he says.
McFadden may only be 26 and still in search of his definitive culinary style. But judging by his menu at L'Autre Pied, he's not far from finding it.
Sample dishes from the menu
Roast foie gras, crispy muesli, semi-dried grapes, apple and pomegranate, vino cotto £12.95
Baked Crapaudine beetroot, smoked eel, goats' curd, tapioca, balsamic gel, Belper knolle £9.95
Grilled Cornish mackerel and tartare, Buddha's hand, fennel and ginger purée, toasted rye Bread £10.50
Cornish silver mullet, red pepper purée, mizuna cream, confit shallot, lemon grass sauce £25.50
Roasted loin and leg of hare, carrot and star anise purée, glazed Chantenay carrots, pine nut jus £21.95
Roasted breast of guinea fowl, caramelised apple purée, Brussel-sprouts, black olives, thyme jus £24.95
Glazed custard tart, honeycomb, apple foam, pear sorbet £7.50
Lime and vodka parfait, mandarin sorbet, coconut foam, chocolate streusel £6.95
Baked vanilla cheesecake, caramelised banana, passion fruit sorbet £7.50
L'Autre Pied 5-7 Blandford Street, London W1U 3DB
020 7486 9696