Archive for May, 2012

Michelin Star Restaurants UK Map (2012)

Posted on: May 15th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

For an updated Michelin Star Restaurants GB Map (2013)

A Google Map has been produced which shows the locations of all the Michelin restaurants. The map is managed by Trainline and/or their providers, fine-dining-guide have no direct access to amend or modify this map.  The map appears through approved code for re-use.

This can display all restaurants or be filtered by star levels. You can use the map below to find restaurants near to you. Please click on the number of stars desired (or all) to see the restaurants pinpointed on the map. Should you click on the marker for each restaurant you will be able to see contact information and a phone number.

There are over 150 Michelin Star Restaurants in the UK and Ireland, over fifty of which are based in London and surrounding areas. Thirteen pubs have been awarded with Michelin Stars and only four restaurants have the coveted level of three Michelin Stars.

Restaurant Review: North Road, London (May 2012)

Posted on: May 15th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood

North Road is a leading exponent of modern Danish cuisine. Opened in November 2010 by chef patron Christoffer Hruskova, it takes to new heights a style he pioneered in London at the Fig in Barnsbury. The move to St John Street in trendy Clerkenwell, home to a diverse range of successful restaurants, gives wider scope to attract a more adventurous, discerning clientele. There is space for 70 diners, including 14 in the mezzanine level private dining area.

The décor features natural textures and colours, with a heavy emphasis of white and beige. The elegant bar has stools designed by Norman Chermer. The stylish dining room, divided into two sections, is lit by a strikingly attractive row of giant balloon like bulbs designed by Serge Mouille. At one end, a mirrored wall adds to the sense of space and light in what is a fairly narrow room.  Tables, which line the sparsely decorated plain white walls, are well spaced and dressed with fine napery. Comfortable seating is provided by leather banquettes and classic carver chairs in light oak designed by J L Moller. Overall, the simple, clean lines and uncluttered look give a refined, sophisticated feel.

Christoffer Hruskova has a distinguished pedigree that includes experience at Copenhagen’s Michelin-starred restaurant Kong Hans, Tetsuya in Sydney and Jardinière in San Francisco. In a Scandinavian style that has reached the heights of gastronomic credibility, his cooking treats the bounties of earth and sea in a simple yet robust way that maximises natural tastes and flavours. Pickling and smoking, or serving food raw, are favoured techniques, although the technology of modern kitchens is not ignored. All ingredients, including many foraged ones, are sourced from the UK. True to his Danish roots, the chef shuns classic French and Mediterranean produce such as olive oil, olives, tomatoes and bulb garlic.  Flavours, therefore, are not strong, but pure and subtle, allowing the main ingredients to speak for themselves.

Whether choosing from the carte, or opting for the tasting menu, the diner can be assured of sound technique, clarity of flavour and clean presentation. Whilst not cheap –starters average £9.50, main courses £23 and desserts £8 – prices are justified by the quality of ingredients and the skill of cooking.  Moreover, compared with other Michelin starred restaurants in the City and West End, they are extremely competitive.

Fine Dining Guide visited North Road on a weekday evening in May 2012.  The tasting menu (seven courses £67, with wines, £49) was chosen which fully revealed the range of ingredients and cooking techniques employed.

A trio of amuse bouches immediately demonstrated the skill of the kitchen:  pork skin was puffed up to ethereal lightness; Jersey Royals were filled with a flavoursome haddock protein mayonnaise, and pickled quails eggs retained their soft oozing  yolks.

Amuse Quail Eggs

Warm malt and spelt rolls, both with dense textured crumb, were shaped like muffins and served in a miniature rustic sack. The accompanying brown butter had a satisfying nutty flavour reminiscent of beurre noisette.

The first course featured the raw Dorset crab and cockle juice jelly. The preparation technique – immersing the crab in soda water which was then frozen – preserved the wonderful sweetness of the  white meat. The cockle juice jelly, set by its own proteins and encasing coastal herbs, added a savoury but not overpowering note. Decorated with rye crisps and wild garlic flowers, and lifted with apple vinegar, this composition proved to be a taste sensation. The dry Italian white wine, with its citrus and nut flavours, showcased the dish beautifully. (Wine: Verdicchio Dei Castelli de Jesi superiore, San Lorenzo, 2010)

North Road Crab

Scottish lumpfish roe was another course served raw. With the distinctive poppy mouth feel of caviar, it worked well with thickened buttermilk which added creaminess, the stronger taste of red onion, the gentle aniseed flavour of dill and the crunch of chicken skin crumble. Here was another harmonious if ususual combination of tastes and textures. The Chenin Blanc, with its bouquet of lush stone fruits, a hint of sweetness and tight mineral finish worked well with dish. (Wine: Montlouis Minerale+ Franz Saumon 2010)

North Road Lumpfish Roe

The next seafood course of smoked native Dorset lobster was perfectly timed to retain the delicate succulence of the flesh. The smoke was so gentle that the sweet pure taste of the tail and claw meat shone through. Enveloped in raw wild and cultivated vegetables such as raddish, cauliflower and mustard leaf, this sublime dish simultaneously combined the luxury of the sea with the simplicity of the land. The high acidity and range of citric flavours in the Riesling wine proved to be another good match. (Wine: Riesling Kabinett, Forster Ungeheuer, Dr Von Bassermann-Jordan, German, 2009)

North Road Lobster

In a season where heavy rainfall has almost devastated the asparagus crop in some regions, we were lucky to have asparagus from the Wye Valley and Kent on the menu. It came in three ways: raw –in slithers – poached and pan fried, all of which captured its distinctive, strong earthy flavour. Wild garlic and truffle added a heady perfume to the dish, whilst salted, soft poached pheasant egg provided a rich sauce. This robust dish needed a richer wine, which the accompanying Sancerre, with its balance of fruit and minerality, provided. (Wine: Sancerre cuvee Maxime Vieilles Vignes, Domainde Delaporte, 2010)

North Road Asparagus

The single meat course showcased Herdwick lamb, sweeter and more fully flavoured than most breeds. The meltingly tender rump had been cooked sous vide in contrast to the sweetbreads which had been pan fried to produce a caramelised crust and a rich, creamy interior. Sea lettuce, sea kale and coastal herbs provided a flourish of nutritious greenery, whilst the whole dish was bought together by a light sauce of burnt cucumber and rape seed oil sauce. The aromatic, soft dry red wine was a splendid accompaniment. (Wine: Barolo, DOCG, Vigneti in Barolo, 2007)

North Road Lamb

There followed two desserts, perhaps less exciting and accomplished than the savoury courses, but nevertheless intriguing

“Milk, pearl barley and linseed” comprised a velvety smooth milk ice cream, linseed foam, and “sugar puffs” of pearl barley. The last element had not totally worked, being too nutty to eat. The matching wine was sweet with a fair degree of acidity. (Wine: Granjo late harvest, Portugal, 2007)


Yoghurt ice cream and crisp yoghurt meringue combined sour and sweet tastes in perfect balance. Douglas fir pine ice added a lively, clean kick to this  light dessert that finished off the meal perfectly. The sweet wine with tropical fruit aromas had a fresh, dry palate that complemented the dessert well. (Wine; Juracon La Magendia de Lapeyre, Clos Lapeyre, France)

North Road_Meringue

A much needed, generous serving of double espresso and petit fours – which included a fun element of candy floss and exemplary salted caramels – completed this tour de force of a meal

Service was welcoming and solicitous, without being intrusive. With so many multi component dishes, and a variety of cooking techniques, the knowledge of the staff was very impressive indeed. Overseeing the proceedings and selecting the matching wines was a familiar face, recently arrived from Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester. His charm, enthusiasm and sense of humour put us at or ease and helped to make the evening a memorable one.

Clearly, North Road has made an indelible mark on the London dining scene, as confirmed by the award of a Michelin star in the 2012 guide. In an area of strong competition, and given its strengths in the kitchen, it will more than hold its own. We will watch its progress with interest.

Chef Interview: Luke Thomas (May 2012)

Posted on: May 9th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood
Luke Thomas

Chef Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas of Sanctum on the Green is a young man on a mission.  He has completed stages in a cross section of the world’s best kitchens covering numerous countries.  Luke is also an alumni of FutureChef, having won the prestigious competition at the age of fifteen.  Luke found time to speak to Simon Carter of fine dining guide, interview took place in the restaurant of Sanctum on the Green in April 2012.

Tell us some background about yourself?

I was born in a small town in North Wales in 1993.  I started Connah’s Quay High School in 2005 and by that time food was my real interest.  My grandparents were a huge inspiration, we grew our own vegetables at home, and from an early age cooking was all I could think about as a career to do for the rest of my life.

One day a week when doing my GCSEs I went to catering college and also worked at Soughton Hall in North Wales for work experience.  I also spent time working at The Arkle Restaurant at The Chester Grosvenor, which changed to Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor.  I attended Yale College Wrexham for NVQ Level 1 & 2 in Professional Catering.

In 2009, at the age of 15, I entered Springboard’s (the catering and hospitality charity) FutureChef (along with 7,500 others). Springboard’s FutureChef helps young people aged 12-16 to learn to cook. It inspires them to explore food and cooking as a life skill by developing their culinary talent and informing them about entry routes into the hospitality industry.  The further you go in the competition the more exposure you get to great chefs.  I won the competition and was mentored by various chefs including Brian Turner.  The process of the competition afforded me the luxury of gaining experience through a number of Stages at world renowned Michelin restaurants.

Upon leaving school I felt that should I one day wish to run a restaurant then I would need to understand more about front of house, back office, finance, sourcing and buying and so on. The Individual Restaurant Company (IRC) is privately owned and owns and operates 34 restaurants in major UK cities, towns and suburbs. I shadowed Iain Donald, who was the commercial director of the business – he had previously worked at The Dorchester and Gleneagles before setting up IRC in 1999.

This was a huge learning experience and I am forever grateful to Iain.  While I was there I learned from further stages at Alinea in Chicago, Gary Rhodes in Dubai and The French Laundry in California amongst others.  So I had some great experiences, not just learning in my career but also broadening my horizons with travel, too.  This was with the help of some generous sponsors and backers, for whom I have also done a lot of private catering, some of which was working on the estate at Sandy Lane in Barbados!

Through various connections – I was doing some work experience at Global Infusion Group, who do large scale catering events, I met up with Mark Fuller and he was very enthusiastic about a hotel/restaurant that he had an interest in, called Sanctum on the Green.  I was ready for the challenge and decided to go for it!

Luke’s Dining Room at Sanctum on the Green opened in March 2012 and touch wood we’ve been very busy!  For the longer term, the great thing about working for Andy Taylor (who is the chairman of the holding company for Concept Venues) and Mark (Fuller) is that you are part of a large international organization of thirteen business.’  This helps with a sense of stability and security for the future and means that I can focus on being the best chef I can be at Sanctum on the Green with fewer external worries.

What was involved in getting the restaurant started?

Not too much.  We’ve done some limited refurbishment, having taken the venue as a canvas and overhauled the kitchen a little, we were pretty much ready to go.  We have a water bath but other than that little in the way of the modern equipment yet (like thermomixers, pacojets and so on.)  We did a soft opening for two weeks after a launch dinner back in March 2012.

What is the menu structure at Luke’s Dining Room?

We have an a la Carte menu which we call a seasonal menu.  We have six starters, six mains and five desserts, which is fairly typical level of choice in restaurants today.  We change the menu around each month.  It very much depends on what the suppliers suggest is strong.  We open for a traditional Sunday lunch, a family style offering that is very popular.

The small team in the kitchen will often come to the table and help with the front of house.  This style helps develop relationships with the customers and gives a homely feel to the restaurant.

What is the size of the brigade front and back and how many covers in the restaurant?

In the restaurant 35 covers and a further ten available in private dining.  Midweek, we’re around 20 covers at the moment and weekends full (forty plus covers).

Front of house, we have a restaurant manager, a bar tender and two waitresses, so four in total.  So at weekends it can get very busy but we’re always calm because we’re comfortable in the way we manage the restaurant – front and back – so services run smoothly. There’s great value add from the chef presenting a dish or two – we cook it and we believe in it, its not like a member of staff memorizing something that’s written on a piece of paper and presenting it to the customer.  As a result we may get member of our chef team being called up and asked for a table by a customer because they appreciated the extra positive, value-added and relationship building experiences they have had at Sanctum on the Green.

What proportion of your guests are hotel guests, and what are locals and destination diners?

Four-fifths of the battle is that we’re becoming accepted by the locals and returning local customers are starting to be the norm.  We also have around 70% of the people who stay in the hotel eat in the hotel and some are destination diners who have read about us in the media.

We had a wedding here the other day and one of guests said “it’s almost like a traditional pub” and that’s great.  From the front it looks like the traditional pub, indeed the site was originally the old Hare & Hounds pub at Cookham Dean. From the back the site looks like a hotel with a restaurant, with formal gates, a swimming pool and a terrace and so on.  Getting the balance right is something we’re achieving which is helping us develop in the right direction as a venue.

How would you describe your customer philosophy?

The customer is king!  I had had something of a different mentality drilled into me, especially when working stages in Michelin starred restaurants – If a customer wanted, say, chips with their veal there would be resistance from the kitchen – the menu was the menu.  Now instead I try to think differently and accommodate the customer:  If someone, for example, wants a burger they should have it, we would make one from an excellent cut of beef.  We would want to give them what they want but try to make it the best it can be!

Which chefs have inspired you the most?

I grew up with Jamie Oliver and the Naked Chef.  He would almost ignore a recipe – throw in a hand full of this and add a little of that – he encouraged people to cook from the heart instead of a piece of paper.  It must have inspired a generation of young chefs as it said “this isn’t difficult, so long as it tastes good and you enjoy yourself cooking!”

Heston Blumenthal is a chef’s chef – his uniqueness, individuality, creativity and search for perfection are all inspiring in equal measure.

Where would you like to eat out if you had the chance?

In the UK, I hear great things about The Square and would love to try Phil Howard’s cooking.  I loved The Ledbury and that was probably my favourite meal in the UK.

What are your plans for the future?

Sanctum on the Green for the foreseeable future.  The product we’re delivering is now consistent and my job will be to break that down and continually look at how it can be taken to the next level!

Mallory Court, Hotel Review, Warwickshire (April 2012)

Posted on: May 6th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood
Mallory Court Main Entrance

Mallory Court Hotel, Warwickshire


Mallory Court has long earned the reputation for being one of the leading hotels in the Midlands. Located in the heart of England, between Royal Leamington Spa and Bishop’s Tatchbrook, with easy access to the M40, it has been a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux Association since 1983. It currently holds three AA stars for accommodation and has been recommended by the Conde Nast Johansens guide for 25 years. The Dining Room has always scored highly in the restaurant guides and recently celebrated holding a Michelin star for eleven consecutive years.

Under the ownership of Sir Peter Rigby who purchased the hotel in 1995, Mallory Court became the first of seven luxury hotels in the Eden House Collection. The following years have seen renovation and expansion, neither of which has been excessive, thereby preserving its medium size and unique country house character.

Thus, continuity and change have featured in the history of Mallory Court between my first visit for lunch in October, 1986, (when Jeremy Mort and Alan Holland were the proprietors), and my recent overnight stay in April 2012.

The main house dates from 1916. Designed by P Morley Horder, in a style popularised by Sir Edwin Lutyens, it typifies the Arts and Crafts design and remains very much as originally built. This ivy clad two storey building, enhanced by gables, stone dressing and mullioned windows, presents an attractive neo Elizabethan façade to the visitor.

From only ten rooms, the East Wing which opened in 1998 doubled the available accommodation. Six years later saw the opening of the Knights Suite, a separate building offering conference and banqueting facilities with more rooms on the first floor. Both additions are designed in sympathy with the main house; indeed it is hardly noticeable that the East Wing, connected to the main house by a glass corridor, is not part of the original set of buildings. The Knights Suite is clearly newer but in the same architectural idiom. The effect of weathering over the years will gradually cause its bright sandstone colour to match the darker shade of the main house. Being set apart, the corporate, large scale nature of its activities is prevented from intruding on the more peaceful atmosphere and personal service offered in the main house.

The small reception and bar area in the main house allow attention to focus on main public rooms. These epitomise the essence of country house elegance and luxury. An open plan lounge and well proportioned drawing room, complete with inglenook fireplaces and exquisite settees, chesterfields and armchairs, offer comfortable areas in which to relax. The conservatory style Garden Room provides a brighter, more airy alternative. Throughout, the décor and quality of materials and fabrics, combining traditional and modern designs, are of very high standards.

Set in ten acres of grounds, the hotel has carefully tended gardens and immaculate lawns – perfect for a game of croquet. The spacious and well protected terrace, ideal for al fresco drinking and dining, commands delightful views of the ornamental water garden. Guests can also explore the rose and organic kitchen gardens. Here, what looked like a maze I later learned was privet hedging to keep out the rabbits.

With 31 rooms, Mallory is of an ideal size: small enough to maintain high standards of service, large enough to allow for guests to choose from a range of six room types, from master suites to double bedrooms. Whilst the eleven rooms in the modern Knights Suite have a more contemporary feel consistent with the rest of the building, the décor and furnishings of the original and east wing rooms retain a more classical, elegant design.

I stayed in Linton, a spacious master bedroom in the East Wing with fine views over the garden. Decorated in shades of tan, with feature striped wallpaper in the bed alcove, and a mixture of wall and table lighting, the room combined both traditional and modern features. Comfortable seating, stylish furniture and sumptuous fabrics added to the lavishness of the surroundings. Attention to detail was seen in small touches such as the shoe horn in the wardrobe, the music centre with a choice of CDs, bottled water, and chocolates, fruit and biscuits on arrival.

Mallory Court Room

Amenities were first class. The large art deco bathroom, fully tiled in marble with large double sinks was a joy to use. The spacious walk in shower was a welcome, modern addition. Fluffy towelling robes, slippers – so often not provided elsewhere – and designer toiletries added luxurious elements. A welcome feature was the separate toilet (also in tiled in art deco style), a highly underrated but often essential facility!

The maintenance and furtherance of such consistently high standards of accommodation and service are the responsibility of the General Manager, Sarah Baker, whose career at Mallory Court began in 1989. In her longevity of dedicated service, her calm, warm personality and mature outlook, she embodies those qualities so valued in the hospitality industry. Her vision for Mallory is one of synergy, of greater presence within Eden House group. Whilst each hotel retains its unique identity, much can be shared to the benefit of all. She admits also that a spa would be a welcome addition to the hotel’s facilities.

On an operational basis, her management style is hands on, leading by example with attention to detail in every aspect of hotel life. She admits the management of 85 staff from diverse backgrounds can be demanding but it is also rewarding. Loyal, hard working staff means happy, contented guests, which is the primary raison d’etre of the hotel. Sarah is proud of her staff retention rates and is keen to promote from within.

Certainly, during my brief stay, the effectiveness of Sarah’s consummate professionalism was much in evidence. Checking in was friendly and welcoming; service at dinner and breakfast was exemplary in its pace, courtesy and in accommodating one’s needs; and a tour of the hotel, given my Natalie, was thorough and informative. The general impression is of seamless, high quality service, offered with grace and good humour.

Clearly, Mallory Court is a hotel of which any manager can be proud. The Relais and Chateaux philosophy of five Cs – courtesy, charm, character, calm and cuisine – has been successfully realised. Much of this success is down to a team effort, one inspired by strong leadership. Under Sarah Baker’s guidance, it continues to go from strength to strength, confirming its leading place in the competitive market of luxury country house hotels.

Dining Room, Mallory Court, Restaurant Review, (April 2012)

Posted on: May 5th, 2012 by Simon Carter & Daniel Darwood
Mallory Court

Mallory Court Hotel, Warwickshire


My first visit to Mallory Court was for a Saturday lunch, way back in October 1986. Simon Carter and I chose a range of classical and nouvelle dishes, enjoying a terrine of warm sole and salmon with langoustine tails, a rendevous of seafood, chicken with wild mushrooms and Madeira, blackcurrant delice and a trio of sorbets. The charming Jeremy Mort was front of house whilst co owner and head chef Alan Holland produced the highly acclaimed cuisine.

I wrote in my report of the “memorable and civilised gastronomic experience…mastery in the kitchen…impeccable service.” These features are much in evidence today, some 26 years later, during which time there have been changes of ownership, management, chefs and cooking styles. Now, as then, Mallory Court is rated highly in the restaurant guides, remains a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux Association and continues to be the proud possessor of a Michelin star. Equally important, the food served in the Dining Room continues to be in perfect harmony with the elegant and sophisticated surroundings of the hotel itself.

Overseeing the kitchen is Simon Haigh, who became head chef in December 2001. He won a Michelin star in 2003, which he has since retained. His new position as Executive Chef for the whole Eden Hotel Collection utilises to the full his creative talents and extensive experience. This includes spells at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Inverlochy Castle (1993-2001) where he won his first Michelin star, and Seaham Hall, where he gained three AA rosettes within a year.

Simon Haigh, Executive Chef

Simon Haigh, Executive Chef.

I met Simon and current head chef Andrew Scott, with whom he has worked for ten years. They share the same consistent approaches towards management, sourcing of produce and menu construction

A more collaborative approach is preferred to the seemingly outdated confrontational kitchen management style: Positive results are achieved through the involvement of all – for instance in the tasting of new dishes – working as a team, with a sense of camaraderie:  a “band of brothers” as Andrew put it. This was also beneficial for staff retention, the average stay for the brigade of eight being above average at four to five years, with others returning after stints elsewhere.

Maximising the use of local and seasonal ingredients is an essential prerequisite for their range of menus. For instance beef, including the renown Dexter breed, comes from three small Warwickshire farms. Much of the fruit, vegetables and herbs come from the hotel’s extensive organic kitchen garden, about which Simon has developed a passionate interest. He regretted the rain had almost destroyed this year’s crop of asparagus, hence its absence from the menu. However, he enthused about the peaches, apricots, mirabelles and figs – amongst an abundance of other home grown fruit and vegetables – which flourish in the south facing gardens. The vegetable and herb areas, I was told, are protected by privet hedging and netting from the voracious rabbit population.

They both agreed that adapting the cuisine to suit the traditional, country house environment and differing types of clientele is important. Being both a destination restaurant, and one with regular local diners, meeting the expectations of both was crucial. One way was through a choice of menus. The seasonal carte, with six options in each course, (£59.50 including coffee and petit fours) showcases both classical and more contemporary dishes, the main courses of which might be changed daily. The daily dinner menu (£45) has a more limited choice while the six course tasting menu (£79 – with a flight of wines £130) is ideal for those who like surprises and wish to see the range of the kitchen’s expertise.

As befitting the modern setting of the conference and banqueting Knight’s Suite, the Brasserie has a more informal, contemporary menu, ranging from Caesar salad to braised ox cheek.

As might be expected from his impressive CV, the cooking style of Simon Haigh showcases and refines classical techniques. Shellfish bisque, foie gras terrine, breast of duck with its confit and beef fillet all feature on the carte. Modern elements and techniques add interest, as in “Coronation crab,” shallot textures, hot rice pudding soufflé, and deconstructed lemon meringue pie. Dishes are multi component, but not at the expense of the main ingredient, so he is careful not to gild the lily. Tastes are distinct and saucing, a particular strength, enhances rather than overwhelms. Combinations of flavours and textures are harmonious if unusual and unexpected. Timing is well judged, and presentation is artistic with clean lines.

Our dinner was taken in the long, oak panelled dining room, the crowning glory of the hotel. With only one window at the far end, wall lights and table candles illuminate the round, well spaced tables. Supremely comfortable carver chairs, fine napery and tapestry carpeting add to the sense of formal luxury. Whilst jacket and tie are not obligatory, as they were in 1986, the smart dress code was observed by all diners.

Given the embarrassment of choice, time was taken over champagne and canapés in the lounge to study the three menus. Whilst tasting menus are always attractive, we decided to choose from the seasonal carte.

Of the breads offered, focaccia was outstanding with its moist crumb and herby flavour.

An amuse bouche saw a seared scallop, perfectly timed to produce a caramelised crust and soft, succulent flesh. Curried lentils with a lemon grass and ginger foam provided a bold foil to the beautifully sweet bivalve.

The first starter featured a well seasoned ballotine of rabbit, gently poached to preserve its delicate gamey flavour. Slices and puree of baby carrot were lifted by a sweet and sour dressing. Brown beech mushrooms added textural interest whilst a velvety smooth, gently flavoured violent mustard ice cream, perched on dried crunchy grains, lifted this simple dish to lofty Michelin heights.

Mallory Rabbit

In another first course, the creamy, delicate quality of spiced foie gras was enhanced by a thin coating of gingerbread crumbs. Poached rhubarb cut the richness of this delectable piece of liver, whilst smoked duck and granola added contrasting flavour and texture.

Mallory Foie Gras

Main courses were equally accomplished.

A thick fillet of utterly fresh pan fried red mullet had firm, yet translucent texture. Its robust flavour stood up to the strong tasting and well executed crab risotto and intense bisque sauce, roasted fennel added a muted aniseed flavour which complemented the other elements well.

Fine meat cookery was shown in a dish of Dexter beef. This rare breed, small in size but big on flavour, came in two forms: a medium rare fillet and unctuous, melting slow cooked shin. Potato mousseline, fresh morels, with their deeply earthy flavour, and shallot textures – tempura rings, whole and shredded caramelised – proved admirable accompaniments, whilst the whole dish was bought together by a deeply flavoured Madeira sauce.

Desserts show, possibly, the greatest imagination and creativity: Indeed a certain playfulness in evidence.

A deconstructed lemon meringue pie was, unlike many other modern versions, still recognisable as such. A rectangle of the thick, lemon curd pie was dressed with shards of crisp meringue and garnished with soft meringue peaks. A quenelle of pine nut ice cream, resting on crushed pine nuts and pine nut butter served transformed this essentially simple dessert into a highly complex and impressive one.

Mallory Lemon Meringue Pie

Another composite dessert centred on a lightly textured warm peanut cake. Richness was added by chocolate textures of soft milk chocolate mousse and firm discs of dark chocolate ganache. Salted caramel and bananas complete this indulgent confection.

Of the delightful petit fours served with coffee, the fruit jellies, macaroons and chocolates were particularly well made.

Overall, this was a first rate meal accompanied by equally good service that was well informed, solicitous but unobtrusive. Overseen by the charming Dominique, the restaurant manager who also recommended wines by the glass, the evening proceeded seamlessly to a most satisfying conclusion.