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Flat Three

Restaurants, Japanese Holland Park
3 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
Flat Three

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

An expensive restaurant that takes inspiration from Japan, Korea and Scandinavia for both its look and its menu.

A koan is a brief, often nonsensical riddle used in Zen practice to provoke thought, or even doubt, in the mind of the student. ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping?’ is a famous example. Another could be ‘Ikejime turbot takenono miso zuke and cream scallop bacon’.

But this isn’t a Japanese koan, or a haiku. It’s one of scores of indecipherable dishes on the menu at the Holland Park restaurant called Flat Three. Ikejime is a Japanese fisherman’s technique for paralysing a fish using a spike driven into the spine, and no one could tell us how it had been done to our turbot. And if the takenoko was present, you could be forgiven for not realising unless you already know that that’s the Japanese word for bamboo shoot. The whole point of a menu written like this is not to inform diners but to intimidate them.

Korean, Scandinavian and Japanese influences collide on this menu like a Harajuku fashion victim’s dress sense. The succession of canapé-sized portions using modernist plate presentation mash up ingredients and techniques, using odd combinations seemingly for the sake of it. Some combos work, others we’re not so sure about.

Highlights of the cheapest five-course tasting menu (£49 per head) included a chawanmushi (egg custard) topped with buckwheat popcorn, and the sea buckthorn sorbet topping a tiny dessert. Less impressive were the three tough little cubes of tuna that were fibrous and ridiculously small, costing £14 as a starter on the à la carte menu; true Japanese o-toro should be melt-in-the mouth, not chewy. The nine-course option, by the way, costs £79.

Flat Three isn’t the most inviting of premises: an awkward basement space concealed behind a nondescript entrance at the corner of two streets. But once you’re inside the dining room it’s spacious, with clean white lines, elegant Scandinavian furniture and delicate glassware. Service is solicitous, food and wine prices high. Even with cautious ordering, you’ll be lucky to get away with spending under £150 for two here; you could spend a lot more. Flat Three is proper remortgaging territory.

By: Guy Dimond

Posted:

Details

Address: 120-122 Holland Park Avenue
London
W11 4UA
Transport: Tube: Holland Park
Price: Meal for two with wine and service: around £160.
Opening hours: Dinner served 6pm-9.30pm Tues-Sat; lunch served noon-2.30pm Fri-Sat.
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Users say (3)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|3
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tastemaker

A friend from New York actually introduced me to Flat Three, on arrival it soon dawned on me why none of my English friends and veteran Londoners had Flat three on their radars. Firstly you simply can not find the place, a basement restaurant near Holland Park completely miss-able.  We had a table for three on a Thursday evening and it seemed no one else had been able to find it either, as we were the only dinners there. Or maybe those who did find it were scared off by £45 a main course. There are some advantages to having a restaurant to yourself, and it would be quite worrying if the service had been inattentive and poor. The service was exceptional, the menu, food and staff obviously have a passion for their Japanese, Korean Scandinavian fusion food. The smoothest Sake I have had the pleasure of tasting. This is an experience restaurant and  beautifully decorated, even when empty had a lovely ambience. If you are looking for something impressive and different the food is fantastic but would not be my go too and doubtful I would return. We dined on Scallop, sea beet aster and smoked soy - £18 Wagyu beef , horseradish and corn £45  - Angus tartar, with Alexander and sea buckthorn £16 (obviously we all know what Alexander and sea buckthron is)  My favourite Greek miracle berry Buckthorn of course!


Tastemaker

Key takeaways:

1. as puristic as Japanese cuisine is, it lends itself to fusion beautifully. Point at hand - Nikkei cuisine, made famous in London over the past years. And now the Japanese-Scandi fusion courtesy of Flat Three. It just works.

2. dark blue is not used in restaurants’ interiors nearly as often as it should! The dark blue linen at Flat Three is absolutely gorgeous and I want to see more of it.

3. the restaurant is not easy to find (it’s in the basement and almost impossible to spot from street level), but make sure you do!

We tried the tasting menu and it was faultless. Imaginative but real, perfectly balanced and beautifully presented food. There’s a wine-pairing option that we went for. We had a preggo girl with us and, it turns out, they have a matching juice and essence menu for non drinkers. Never seen that before! My friend gave the non-alcoholic pairing such rave review, I’m starting to think that maybe alcohol free is the way to go. All drinks are served in excellent glassware too! 

The service was attentive and friendly and dignified all at once.

In short, can’t fault a single thing and can't wait to be back.


The restaurant is located at the corner of a road with a rather inconspicuous and understated sign on the side of the road. I was really hoping for this to be an improvement on the old Chinese take away that used to be there. Holland Park was really lacking in good places to eat, and God was I happy with what I found.  As I walked into the underground restaurant I was truly surprised by the roomy space that greeted mw, with a astoundingly elegant decor. I mean the tables were set up with dark blue linen cloth over the dark brown tables in a very clean manner along with almost impossibly thin glasses to really provide a beautiful atmosphere complemented by the open kitchen. It was amazing to watch the chefs work. The menu isn't very long, with two set menus and a la carte options, in large and small portions. I decided to go for  the a la carte options, ordering a few things, with an open mind. The staff was very helpful in guiding me through the dishes and what they personally though was good, what went well with what and so on. The first dish to arrive was actually a myriad of 9 small dishes ranging from mushroom dumplings to curry chicken to a variety of different pickles. I found that there was a very nice balance of texture, acidity and flavour, my personal favourite here was the mushroom dumplings with a wonderful earthy flavour. Next came a tuna sashimi paired with wood ants-yes, ants. This unusual combination helped to provide a sweet yet spicy kick to the tuna that is unusual yet wholly inspired. This was followed by some scallops that had a great texture and were very well cooked. I also ordered some lamb, which came superbly cooked and was very tender. The pork belly, was on another world. Never has anything melted in my mouth quite like this has. One of the things that I found most interesting was the way that the udon noodles are cooked with an alkali powder to enhance flavour; this really worked. Another dish which I tried was the Brill, wow. Sublime. Delightful. There are no where near enough words in the dictionary to describe what that tasted like. To finish, for desert I had a Finnish cake with a berry preserve and vanilla ice cream that rounded everything off nicely. The fusion of Japanese, Korean and Scandinavian cuisine was brilliant. Unlike some other people who thought that it conflicted and makes no sense, I think that ratter than inhibiting each other they contribute to each other and improve the experience. This is an incredible combination which helped to create a memorable dinner that I will never forget. In the end I would be surprised if Flat Three doesn't get a star soon. This is Michelin worthy cuisine that was absolutely electrifyingly good. This really is a hidden gem.

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