Friday, September 30, 2011

london eats: hibiscus

29 Maddox Street
London W1S 2PA
Tel: +44 (020) 7629 2999

Hibiscus was one of the "star" restaurants which made it to the CRAZY list. With 2 Michelin Stars under its belt and a resume which boasts of time spent in some of France's best restaurants, Claude Bosi is certainly one of London's acclaimed chefs today. I honestly had high expectations because I had read widely of positive reviews online and heard good comments about the restaurant. However, it might have been precisely because of those expectations, that I left feeling slightly underwhelmed.

It wasn't so much the food that disappointed me because the combinations of flavours were unique and the dishes sent out of the kitchen were generally solid. The service however, wasn't what I would have expected of a 2 Michelin Star restaurant. The wait staff were friendly and welcoming sure, but it was difficult to get their attention during the dinner because they spent quite a bit of time huddling at the table at the centre of the restaurant, with their backs facing the diners. None of my dishes were explained as well - something that I've never encountered at any fine dining restaurant. I like spotting flavours on my plate but before that, I would also like to know exactly what I'm eating especially since Bosi's dishes are fairly elaborate. I'm not sure if it was a slip up that night or this is just generally how things work in Hibiscus, but I just wasn't impressed considering the restaurant's fine reputation of being one of the World's 50 Best Restaurants.

All was not lost anyway because the food did make up for it somewhat. We started out with some delicious canapes and a refreshing Hibiscus Soda.

Parmesan & Cheddar Gougères, Polenta & Black Olive Croquettes 

Hibiscus & Apple Soda

The Ravioli and Bouquet Shrimps came as the first courses for our 3 course dinner. I enjoyed the Bouquet Shrimps which were raw and sweet although I couldn't really figure out exactly what the rest of the components on the plate were. The Ravioli came looking like a celebration of Spring but on the tongue, an overwhelming amount of acid took over the whole dish and made it difficult to taste the dish properly.

Raw Bouquet Shrimps & Rambutan, Warm Ravioli of Kohlrabi & 
Pig's Trotters, Irish Sea Urchin

Ravioli of Spring Onion & Lime, Broad Bean and Mint Puree

The mains were tasty and solid. Whilst I didn't care of the Lemon Puree on its own because of the bitterness, it tasted really good when all the components were eaten together. It was my first time having Kid (part of the Goat family) and it was delicious. What I loved the most on the plate however, were those winkles in salted butter. R really loved his dish of Veal Sweetbreads as well. Having always been a fan of sweetbreads, it was cooked and executed well. The side dishes which accompanied the mains were good too. I much preferred the Shepherd's Pie that came with the English Kid. Even when I was getting too full, I couldn't stop sticking my fork in there to get more of it.
Barbequed English Kid, Garlic & Lemon Puree, Confit White Asparagus, 
Glazed Winkles in Salted Butter

 Roast Veal Sweetbreads studded with Black Garlic, Italian Leaf Salad & Gremolata Dressing

English Kid Shepherd's Pie

Cous Cous

Before we proceeded to the last course, we were served our pre-desserts. Having enjoyed the little teasers of what were to come, I knew that dinner was going to end well. 

Apple Sorbet & Celeriac

 Strawberries, Celeriac Jelly & Szechuan Pepper Cream

Instead of having a dessert course, I opted for cheese instead. Because of that decision, I now have a new found love for blue cheese, specifically the Roquefort. The Comte was extremely nice as well (the search for varying ages of Comte continued throughout the trip). I'm not usually a fan of chocolate (I know, sue me!) but I did like the rich chocolate tart which Hibiscus is known for. Without doubt, R thoroughly enjoyed his dessert being a fan of chocolate himself.

 Cheese Platter

Chocolate Tart with Indonesian Basil Ice Cream

In order for a restaurant to achieve success, the front of house is as important as the food that comes out of the kitchen. And on the night that I was there, the experience was unfortunately let down by the lapse in service. Whilst I don't think the food is the best that I've ever tasted, Hibiscus definitely deserves better service in order to give their diners a night that they will remember (for the right reasons).

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