Martyn Meid may be reticent, his name not blazoned on menus or websites, but his modernist Nordic cuisine is anything but. The little restaurant is Scandi-cool in white, glass and steel, carefully lit in the evening via arty light fittings and flickering candles, and looking out over the neon-lit South Quays development.
Downstairs is a tiny takeaway serving the fish and chips that may yet prove a mainstay. The main menu has just occasional mentions of foams, powders and textures; on our visit, the waitress felt bound to warn us about the more ‘deconstructed’ dishes. Own-cured gravlax came with squid ink aïoli, mint jelly et al, and was a great composition. Fish and chips – we tried cod and rock – proved gratifyingly traditional, and good as can be. Rather different treatments were at play with home-salted cod – its tomato powders and pastes provided a plateful of umami – and the simply named but startlingly executed lemon sole with truffled celeriac. The most pungent of purées proved no match for a soft, almost-rotten fleshed fish hovering between the textures and tastes of Scandinavian specialities lutefisk and surströmming, a shock to the uninitiated and unforewarned.
We needed our wines (a great selection, with umpteen by-the-glass) to wash away a truffle powder that tasted merely bitter. White chocolate powder (in deconstructed cheesecake) proved rather more palatable.
There’s currently an uneasy tension here between the traditional and the experimental; if you’re after a straightforward experience, it’s best to enquire very carefully before tucking in.