Iâ€™ve been a fan of Adam Handling ever since watching him on MasterChef: The Professionals back in 2013. Heâ€™s a bloody good cook, even if the folk at Michelin are yet to acknowledge it. A recent meal at Handlingâ€™s restaurant, The Frog in Covent Garden, was superb.
His latest restaurant can be found inside theÂ Belmond Cadogan Hotel in Chelsea. Belmond are the folk who have money in The British Pullman and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, alongside amazing properties around the world.
Itâ€™s a swanky AFÂ setting. We start with a glass of fizz and nibbles seated at one of the two chefâ€™s tables. Cheese doughnuts followed by beef, beer, egg yolk followed by cod, creme fraiche, caviar (Â£8 each) are all gorgeous.
Next up, 6 of the freshest Carlingford oysters (Â£20). They are huge and why I love oysters so very much. The taste of the sea. That cold, fatty texture as they slip down. The tang of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
We move into the dining room for starters. Itâ€™s an attractive space. The walls have plenty of ornate detailing and an Art Deco chandelier hangs above us. You can still see into the kitchen but itâ€™s less intrusive and rather romantic.
Handlingâ€™s bread and chicken skin butter has become somewhat of â€˜a thingâ€™ across his restaurants. For good reason. The butter hits all the notes of a Sunday roast while the shards of chicken skin crackling add luxury.
Continuing that luxurious theme: freshly made linguine covered in Krug champagne butter sauce (Â£22). I donâ€™t think four words have ever made me happier. We add black truffle (Â£8) but you might want to add caviar (Â£15) or even lobster (Â£15). If a dish were a hug on a blustery Winterâ€™s evening, this would be it.
Scallops, shallots and bone marrow (Â£24) come atop a wave of mashed potato. The bone marrow and accompanying gravy work incredibly well with the seafood.
Scottish lobster with lemongrass and carrot (Â£45) showcases superb quality and exact cooking. I only wish the lobster chunks had been given a flash in the pan to add some colour and texture. Itâ€™s all a little too delicate.
Salt-aged duck (Â£38) has a rich, gamey flavour which is softened by the sweet cherries then brought back to life by bitter endive. Thereâ€™s flavour galore yet itâ€™s perfectly balanced. Itâ€™s nice to see the duck heart going to good use, too.
For dessert, we share â€˜compressed cucumber, burnt basil and dillâ€™ (Â£15); an eclectic group of flavours which work well together. Chunks of cucumber dunked in dry ice are served table side for added drama. Itâ€™s fresh and zingy.
Adam Handling at the Belmond Cadogan is a grown-up restaurant serving comforting dishes with all the luxuries youâ€™d expect from a five star hotel in Chelsea. I shall dream of pasta in Krug butter sauce for the rest of my days.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant