Ex MasterChef: The Professionals contestant, Adam Handling, has grown quite the restaurant empire. There’s The Frog in Covent Garden, The Frog in Hoxton Square, his zero-waste coffee shop, Bean and Wheat, just next door and most recently Restaurant Adam Handling at Belmond Cadogan Hotel in Chelsea.
This visit is to Covent Garden to try his new menu. But first, we head to the basement for a cocktail in Eve Bar. It’s dark and candlelit with illuminated stained glass windows and tree roots coming down from the ceiling. Fun.
Upstairs is a far brighter affair. Chairs are angled towards the open kitchen – it’s a bit like Ronnie Scott’s but the restaurant version. There’s a quality feel about the place.
We go for the five course tasting menu (Â£65 per person) which begins with some theatrical snacks; razor clam, raw beef with lovage and cod’s roe with caviar. All so pretty, all so tasty. Anything that sits above cascading dry ice will always win me over.
Warm bread is served with chicken butter topped with chicken skin and chicken jus. It tastes every bit of a Sunday roast chicken which is a glorious thing to have on top of bread.
‘Celeriac, date, apple, fresh truffle’ is our first dish and it’s a strong start. Nothing too punchy, just a blend of tasty flavours with a soft, comforting texture. Mushroom agnolotti (that’s little pasta parcels) keeps the comfort-factor going. There’s bone marrow and umami-rich black garlic. It’s a cuddle.
A Â£20 supplement gets you a lobster claw and tail drenched in wagyu fat. Such simplicity demands precise cooking and huge flavour which is exactly what you get. This works and it’s the best thing I’ve eaten all year.
Gently-cooked cod isn’t overpowered by the nori powder or smoked eel. Brown shrimps add sweetness while kohlrabi goes unnoticed – doesn’t it always?! A lobster bisque sauce is poured around, putting the shells from that lobster before to good use.
A chunk of lamb, all soft and squidgy, is brought alive by a sticky lamb sauce, the sort that shines enough for you to see your reflection in, and a lone asparagus spear. This is such accomplished cooking.
For dessert we share ‘apple, yeast, chamomile’ and ‘rhubarb, juniper, crÃ¨me fraÃ®che’. Both are lookers and contain deconstructed bits and bobs which, when you take a little of each, create perfectly balanced puds.
I last visited The Frog back in 2018. I enjoyed it then, but now, the new menu is an album of best hits, while service finds the pleasant balance of friendly and intrusive. They’re firing on all cylinders. Go and see for yourself.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant