‘I hope you're hungry,’ said Frog's founder and head chef Adam Handling, as he dunked his hand into the potted plant on our table.
With a flourish, he pulled out from the leaves a beaker of mysterious, viridescent liquid. This he poured into a ceramic cup that was already filled with flecks of potato and artichoke skins, transforming the chunks into a soup that surprisingly started off hot and finished ice cold. This culinary marvel might sound like something from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, but this is how every meal at Frog begins – with a little bit of magic.
Over the top, audacious and overly complicated, but also completely delightful.
Opening in 2017, the restaurant by the ‘Masterchef: The Professionals’ finalist was awarded a Michelin star in 2022. Since then, Frog by has been done up, with dull brown leather chairs and wooden tables replaced by plush pastel-pink chairs, and soft white leather tables. Whatever you might think of the decor – there is some questionable art, notably the massive pop art portrait of Queen Elizabeth II – and the wild £195 a head price tag, Handling certainly has a vision.
As for the food, I could take you through every item on our ten-course tasting menu, but we’d be here all night (my meal lasted about four hours), so here are some highlights instead. Snacks were presented like a magical garden, with dainty flowers and dry ice encompassing a duck egg custard, a zingy beef and kimchi in crunchy pastry, and a crumbly biscuit stuffed with cheesy cream, AKA a cheese doughnut – an adorable take on cheese on toast.
Other favourites included Handling’s indulgent signature waffle topped with sturgeon emulsion, a generous dollop of caviar and birch syrup; a perfect piece of turbot with a luminous green basil sauce and yellow courgette coiled up like a flower; an unbelievably tender piece of pigeon with a rich jus and a sweet, smoky hen of the woods mushroom; and a bite-sized bakewell tart that was just sweet enough, with an gooey piece of cheese balancing atop. All of this was accompanied by flawless wine, and sometimes sake, pairings.
For dessert, a gloriously nineties looking thing appeared, comprising a bright white sphere filled with vanilla ice cream and passion fruit, alongside a dollop of ice-cold yoghurt, a tart ball of ‘citrus’ and a neat coil of white chocolate. If there was a retrofuturist pudding, this would be it.
Frog is an incredibly well-oiled machine. The waiting staff, who make sure they’re on first name basis with you, are charming and diligent. They watch over the restaurant like hawks, ready to swoop in at any moment should your drink need topping up, or a crumb need sweeping from your table.
This meal was so rich it could give you Henry VIII levels of gout. Sure, it was over the top, audacious and overly complicated, but dining at Frog was also completely delightful. This isn’t an everyday meal, but for a special occasion, it’s an experience worth the hefty cost.
The vibe A fairy wonderland of fine dining.
The food An intricate ‘no waste’ tasting menu with ingredients from around the British isles
The drink Beautifully thought-through wine pairings for £150. There’s also a juice pairing for non-drinkers at £80.
Time Out tip Make sure you’re hungry, and opt for the extra dishes if you can afford to.