Thursday, March 29, 2007


177 Hoxton Street
London N1 6PJ

I made the trek out Hoxton for my birthday with friends two of which where either about to or had just had their birthdays. We had read about this restaurant but never been however, as the chef was rumoured to have trained at el Bulli in the Costa Brava near Barcelona we were very exited about the prospect of avant garde food. The restaurant has received mixed reviews but based on our experience they have either fixed the negatives or the criticism was uncalled for.

Our table of five had a very competent waitress that appeared not to be serving other tables so was always available when we needed something. One of the more common criticism had been that the staff was clueless but this was not at all our experience. Same goes for the food. Innovative and excellently executed was how I would describe the experience overall.

We had the nine course tasting menu which consisted of:

  • Sardine, rhubarb puree, citrus, rosemary-sake spray (excellent particularly the puree which totally made this dish)
  • Scallops, hon shimeji mushrooms, dashi, mint (No recollection)
  • Artichoke and honey-wine soup, pine nut ravioli, eringe, yogurt (again excellent never had artichoke in a soup put this really worked)
  • Pork jowl, black radish, langoustine, leek puree (good but unremarkable)
  • Free range egg cooked at sixty five degrees, dashi, chicken skin (yes, I loved this. I have not managed to read up on what exactly happens to egg at sixty five degrees but the egg that Bacchus served had a very unique consistency somewhere between gelatinous and hard boiled egg. With the saltiness of the dashi and chicken skin this was a very unique and satisfying dish.)
  • Salmon belly, black olives, date and hazelnut puree, pate de brique (a bit boring)
  • Lamb shoulder, figs brulee, hijiki paste, hot coffee (I have seen this dish much criticised in reviews but I think this undeserved. The lamb has been cooked for 36 hours using the sous-vide method and in my opinion the resulting bitterness is very attractive. A very unique taste to be sure but it worked for me. I was a little unsure about the ground coffee beans but the rest worked.)
  • Black olive financier, roasted pear ice cream, pine nuts (I have also seen this dish criticised but I found the combinations of salt (on the ice cream) and sweet perfect.)

I have to admit that my recollections are a little hazy as between the champagne at my house before leaving for the restaurant and the Bacchus Bubblebath cocktail before dinner I was quite drunk. This explains why there are only eight dishes on the list above - I will just have to go again! The restaurant gave us the cocktail recipes and my bubblebath consisted of apple puree, simple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, apple juice, Thai basis, vodka (loads) and lemon grass. The other had a Bacchus Bloody Marvellous a “twist on a classic bloody mary” that was made from lime juice, lemon juice, orange zest and juice, ginger and tomato juice (all strained), sweet basil soy sauce, Worcester sauce, chilli, pepper oil and loads of vodka!

After dinner Nuno Mendes the chef owner, came to speak to us drunks and we found out that his stay at el Bulli was in fact only three months but he appears to have picked up a lot in his time there. He did in fact give us a concise version of his CV that was quite extensive for a young guy but I unfortunately don’t remember it except that he started out with Jean Georges in New York and has done some stints in Asia. I think there should be more of a buss about this restaurant than there is at the moment. It is not as good as the Fat Duck but it is very good and for me a welcome source of innovative food.

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