Chef Allan Pickett has returned to the capital at D&D London's Plateau, bringing with him a passion for seasonal produce and a continually evolving menu with classic French cooking at its heart.
Having had his creative wings clipped slightly serving the more conservative clientele at the Aviator hotel in Farnborough, Allan Pickett has made a welcome return to the London restaurant scene at D&D London's Plateau in Canary Wharf. Taking over as head chef from Tim Tolley, who oversaw the restaurant since its launch in 2003, Pickett is determined to make the most of the capital's culinary freedom.
Pickett's previous head chef positions include D&D's Orrery in Marylebone, where he retained a Michelin star, Bluebird in Chelsea and Galvin Bistrot De Luxe. As well as a wealth of experience, he brings with him to Plateau a passion for seasonal produce that is evident in his continually evolving menu of contemporary and light dishes with classic French cooking at its heart.
A discrete haven amid the steel, concrete and glass of Canary Wharf, and overlooking a large splash of grass that is Canada Square Park, Plateau's theme of happy juxtapositions continues in its interior design by Conran & Partners. Iconic 1950s designs such as the Eero Saarinen tulip chairs make the space feel retro, but with shades of Hanna-Barbera's vision of the future in cartoon classic The Jetsons.
The space is divided into a series of pairs: a formal dining area and a more relaxed grill; two private rooms; two terraces; and two bars. At its heart is the kitchen, which gives Pickett and his brigade a panoramic view of the dining rooms.
Despite having what might be considered a captive audience of business folk, Pickett says being situated in east London's business district, detached from the City's hub, is not without its challenges. As a result he is enjoying the opportunity to tinker with and fine-tune his dishes to keep exciting the palates of his regulars.
"The focus of the menu is really seasonal produce," he explains. "I gave it a complete overhaul when I started and that's been well received, but I tweak it daily by looking at what we've got to see what would add substance to what we're doing."
The à la carte menu kicks off with a selection of seven starters, including a velvety smooth port marinated foie gras ballotine, garnished with pistachios and raisin purée (£15). "We're developing a brioche with pistachios and raisins to toast and accompany the foie gras, but we won't put it on the plate until it is perfect," says Pickett.
A parsley risotto with sauté of snails and garlic butter is available as either a starter (£9.50) or a larger portion as a main course (£16.50).
The list of seven main courses features a deliciously moist roast Yorkshire Moors grouse, served with game chips, watercress and sweet fingerling carrots (£29.50), and crispy-skinned seared sea bass with vine tomatoes and sauce vierge (£19.50), which is paired beautifully with a 2007 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Riesling (£8 a glass).
The six desserts on offer have a fruity theme. They include a biscuit glace served in a Kilner jar and topped with a scoop of intense apricot sorbet (£5.50), which combines creamy and smooth to tickle the tongue, and a tropical coconut crème brûleé adorned with slithers of crisp coconut for texture (£6.50).
Sommelier James Doughty is responsible for the comprehensive wine list that features a broad selection of French classics and New World wines, each chosen to complement the menu.
Diners in both the restaurant and the grill also have the option of the menu du jours, with two and three courses available from £16 and £18, while Pickett plans to launch two new tasting menus priced at £48 (£39 for vegetarian) in a bid to drive footfall during the quieter weekend periods.
While Pickett has a penchant for experimenting with his dishes, he's aware of making sure the firm favourites are always available but, most likely, further refined. "On the à la carte menu there are the core dishes," he explains. "Smoked salmon is one of our biggest sellers and that will never move - but it will evolve."
Plateau, 4th Floor, Canada Place, Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5ERTel: 020 7715 7100
WHAT'S ON THE MENU
• Loch Fyne smoked salmon, capers, rye bread, £6
• Poached diver-caught scallops, white wine velouté, soft herbs, £15
• Chanterais melon, air-dried ham two ways, £6.50
• Summer truffle infused Devon chicken, sweet corn, baby leeks, jus gras, £22
• Roast fillet of beef, sauté of Girolle mushrooms, roast bone marrow, £28
• Darne of cod, aubergine caviar, slow-cooked onions, peppers, £20
• Ile flottante, pink praline, crème angalaise, £5
• Butter milk panna cotta, cherry compote, £5.50
• Cheese selection with crackers, red onion confit, £7