On Tuesday night, Mr D and I decided to head to my favourite champagne bar in Parsons Green. Here there is an incredible little restaurant serving up some of the best food I have tasted for a long time called 'Claude's Kitchen'.
The bar has an excellent atmosphere every night of the week and serves up one of the biggest selections of champagnes I have ever seen. Naturally, I had a glass of exactly that and Mr D settled for one of their bottled beers.
Claude Compton is the new Head Chef, and the kitchen's namesake, previously working at the highly acclaimed Petersham Nurseries and also the popular Club Gascon. His aim is to focus on great seasonal ingredients and michelin dining within a relaxed environment. He could not have got it more bang on.
We sat by the window and our menus were brought to us immediately along with some toasted bread and a choice of two butters, salted or tomato.
Settling on a carafe of house red (it was a Tuesday after all) for our tipple we browsed the menu, which changes weekly, offering a choice of 3 or 4 starters and the same with mains and puds - Excellent, no huge problem with choosing? WRONG! I found it impossible, even the non-carnivorous choices sounded delicious... Beetroot (curried), toasted spices, coconut, lentils and flat bread? - yum!
We decided there and then that we would share our choices 50/50.
Mr D settled on wood pigeon (seared) celeriac mash, cardamom, pickled red onion, lavender, honey and a port jus. The pigeon breasts were so tender and the sticky port jus was so delicious when mopped up with the mash, I didn't want this to end. The lavender hit was really subtle but such a nice addition along side the punchy pickled red onion. It just shows the skill of Claude's pallet. An all round winner and possibly the dish of the day. If you can get here this week, this is a must!
I chose the Cornish mackerel (line caught), crunchy red grape, blood orange, beetroot and Bloody Mary sauce. Really fresh zingy flavours complemented the oily fish perfectly. I was reluctant to hand over Mr D his half as it was a tasty, refreshing dish to start a meal with. The acidity of the orange and crunchy grapes brought the whole dish together in flavour and also texture. It was also a very pretty dish, lots of lovely spring colours to help you forget this delightful British weather we're having!
Our mains arrived in good time - finally a restaurant that isn't pushing you to leave and lets you to enjoy your time with them!
Mr D went for the Megrim whole Sole (chargrilled and Cornish), wild garlic, almonds, new pots, shaved sprouts, sprouting broccoli and lambs lettuce. At least 3 of those ingredients I could eat everyday so we were onto a winner already. What was fantastic about this dish was the simplicity of it and the textures, soft perfectly cooked fish, al dente broccoli and then a hard crunch from the almonds were such a great combination I would attempt this again at home, however in fear it would never taste the same. The new pots were fluffy and buttery, a great added extra to an already perfect dish.
My main choice was pork belly with butternut puree, quince, black cabbage and Romesco. The pork was perfectly cooked and had a fantastic layer of crackling which we both saved (the best) till last. Romesco, a type of nutty, red pepper sauce often used in pasta was served as a quenelle and worked well with the succulent pork. This and the quince cut through the pork belly's sweet fattiness and the plate was licked clean.
One thing that we thought was fantastic about Claude's Kitchen, was that there is no need for additional sides. With the Chefs' impressive knowledge of food and ingredients, everything comes with exactly what it should.
Not quite bursting, we decided on having puddings. Mr D chose the 'sweet and sour rhubarb' which came with lemon and star anise possit and a hot piquillo tuille. The lemon possit was a sweet pallet cleanser and worked brilliantly with the sour rhubarb. The spicy tuille was unexpected but added a lovely crunchy texture.
My choice of sweet was (of course) chocolate parfait, red wine figs, beet crisp and fizzy grapes. The fizzy grapes came in an almost sorbet consistency and was delicious, cutting through the rich chocolate parfait and sweet figs. A good pud for you chocoholics!!
Overall, one of the most enjoyable meals we've had. All aspects of this British inspired menu focus on great ingredients, textures and fabulous tastes, all served in a relaxed and homely environment. It's on our doorstep, therefore, I will be back very soon...and wait for it... I was on 'Claude 9'!