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Menuwatch: Pied à Terre, London

25 May 2016
Menuwatch: Pied à Terre, London

Andy Lynes reports

This year, one-Michelin-starred Pied Á Terre celebrates 25 years of fine-dining. Throughout that time, former Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons assistant restaurant manager David Moore has steered the ship as founding director, attracting some serious culinary talent, including Richard Neat, Tom Aikens and Shane Osborn. Thirty-year-old Irishman Andy McFadden took over the kitchen reigns from Marcus Eaves in October last year, transferring from sister restaurant L'Autre Pied in Marylebone, where he was head chef and also held a Michelin star.

Now heading up a brigade of 10 chefs and serving up to 70 customers on a Friday and Saturday night in the elegant 46-seat restaurant and 14-seat private dining room, McFadden is shaping up to be every bit as talented as his illustrious predecessors. The chef's menu (£145 for eight courses) shows off the restaurant's ingredient- and flavour-driven style, with dishes such as ceviche of Orkney scallops with cucumber, balsamic and dill.

"When I was younger, I was trying to put the whole world on a plate, but now I don't have to do cauliflower 10 different ways. It's about taking the base product and thinking about the best way to complement the flavour," says McFadden, whose CV also includes Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Dublin and Sergio Herman's now closed three-Michelin-starred Oud Sluis in Holland.

A highlight was a revival of a starter of seared and poached foie gras in a Sauternes consommé. "Richard Neat is coming back in September and we're going to do a menu of all of his old classics. In the meantime, we're doing a couple of his dishes," says McFadden.

The liver is served on a ragÁ¹ of coco de paimpol beans and bacon dice, enriched with cream, butter and herbs and topped with a sheet of pasta. It's finished with the strained consommé, charred onions and wild garlic.

Seared and poached foie gras in a Sauternes consommé with coco beans and charred onions

The venison consommé is a by-product of McFadden buying in whole animals from Downland Deer, a company supplying wild venison that's part-owned by Mike Robinson, co-proprietor of the Harwood Arms in Fulham with Brett Graham of the Ledbury. "Brett told me that venison is in season all year - you just have to switch between the six different species. It's an amazing product."

As well as making stock and consommé from the carcass, the front legs are braised overnight and the meat is mixed into fregola sarda, which is finished with a sauce made from the carcass with butter, balsamic and grated chocolate. It accompanies a loin of fallow deer that's rolled in panko breadcrumbs flavoured with 'Black Pearl' curry from Thiercelin, a spice merchant in Paris. The powder gets its black colour from charcoal.

"We have a different way of cooking the meat. We season it, roll it in egg white and then the Black Pearl crumb. In a warm pan, we start with oil and then add butter because otherwise it will burn, then you cook it like your own mini rotisserie."

The dish is finished with aubergine caviar, burnt aubergine purée and red pepper ketchup made with red pepper purée, apples, apple juice, pineapple juice and Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar.

Scallop, cucumber, crème fraiche, balsamic, dill

Celeriac, apple, walnut, Belper Knolle

In addition to the tasting menu, McFadden offers a seven-course seasonal tasting menu (£75), a nine-course tasting menu (£105), a 10-course vegetarian tasting menu (£94), an Á la carte menu (£65 for two courses, £15 dessert) and a set lunch (£29 for two courses, £37.50 for three courses and £60 for six courses).

Because they bake their own bread and undertake butchery in-house, McFadden refers to Pied Á Terre as an "old-fashioned restaurant". But modern and light dishes mean you won't leave with an old-fashioned fine-dining belly - the celeriac starter, for instance, echoes the flavours of Waldorf salad, with pasta-like sheets of celeriac in a celeriac consommé with walnut purée, celery and celery leaves and apple 'ravioli' with apple purée and grated Belper Knolle, a dried Swiss cows' milk cheese rolled in garlic, pepper and Himalayan salt.

"We use a lot of citrus and naturally sour flavours. That means if you eat a big menu you don't feel like you need to open your button. It's a nicer way of eating."

Fallow deer, fregola, Black Pearl curry, smoked cacon, beetroot

From the menu

Starters

  • Norfolk quail, hazelnut, beetroot
  • Artichokes, duck breast, Muscat grapes, frozen Parmesan
  • Duck foie gras, spinach, verjus, oats, pomegranate

Mains

  • Goosnargh guinea fowl, fondant potato, purple sprouting broccoli, lemon thyme
  • Fillet of halibut, cavolo nero, lemon, brown shrimps, beurre noisette
  • Squab pigeon, apricot, bacon, cabbage

From the Á la carte menu: £65 for a starter and a main course

Desserts

  • Pineapple, coconut, lime, sake £15
  • Caramelia delice, Pedro Ximenez, honeycomb, mango, calamondin £15

Pied Á Terre, 34 Charlotte Street, London W1T 2NH

www.pied-a-terre.co.uk

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