We had a truly brilliant meal at Nathan Outlaw’s Michelin starred restaurant in Cornwall a few years back; the service was outstanding and it was the only time we’ve ever had a seafood tasting menu. I wasn’t entirely convinced the whole ethos of fresh and mostly local fish would transport well to his second restaurant (in the Capital Hotel, Knightsbridge) but it got a Michelin star soon after opening so it must be doing something right.
As soon as we walked in it was very evident we were in a hotel restaurant; everything was just so ‘plain Jane’ and non descript. It was also far smaller than I expected.
Talking of small, the menu, which was printed on a single piece of paper, was a little too concise for me. It also had the set lunch on it – surely at dinner they could serve a freshly printed menu with only what’s available – God am I becoming overly fussy?!
Some little cod balls with a herby mayo kicked things off and were pleasant enough; the fish was moist and the breadcrumb coating was crisp – they were about as exciting as that description. Bread was light as anything and well made but the choice was limiting – white or brown.
To start, my gentleman companion went for the special of scallops. These not overly large scallops came served in their shell and considering it was three courses for £55 (which ain’t cheap) to charge an extra fiver for them seemed awfully tight. The shells also clattered about the plate making eating them a bit of a noisy faff.
I went for the mackerel and crispy oyster which was a very tasty plate of food but it was bloody small – it was the size I’d expect if I was having a tasting menu. The accompanying cucumber chutney was so tasty I used the bread to mop up every last bit – I just could have done with quadruple the amount.
For main, the breaded monkfish was a weird one – I’m not convinced anything is gained by covering a gorgeous piece of meaty monkfish in a slightly bland and unappetisngly dark green breadcrumb coating. The tomato and sardine ketchup was too overpowering; it tasted simply of tomato purée. The bass with chargrilled octopus and octopus fritter was a little better but the leaves of rocket seemed totally out of place. Again it was also terribly small.
For dessert the ‘gooseberry crumble tart with elderflower ice cream’ was simply a well made pastry case filled with poached gooseberries – there was nothing wrong it, it just didn’t make me want to stand on my chair and do a dance. The plate of cheese could have had a more flamboyant presentation but at least it was delicious. A particular highlight was the blue goats cheese, which is the only one available in the UK.
I was really surprised by how disappointing our meal was – it seemed so far removed from Nathan’s Cornish restaurant. It was bloody expensive and I left feeling absolutely starving which is never a good thing. Service was friendly and attentive but the whole experience just didn’t tickle my pickle.