Restaurants in London are always opening and closing; I’ll visit a restaurant and six months later it’ll be closed with a new one in its place. But really good restaurants stand the test of time which is why Pied à Terre has been on the same site in Charlotte Street for 25 years. I visited the restaurant about seven years ago, but I was returning tonight to try the fantastic Michelin-starred food once again.
Now a restaurant with at least five varieties of bread will always win points for me and the selection was incredible. Highlights for me were a deliciously salty focaccia with rosemary and the swirly one in the middle which was olive and parmesan.
Our canapés were delivered to the table; first a leek and potato croquette which was so perfectly seasoned that the simple bite tasted absolutely exquisite.
Alongside this were delicious squid ink crackers topped with a cod mousse, two delicious contrasting textures and a subtle flavour of fish. As we were enjoying these bites, the owner, David Moore, came in and met with us. Not only have I long been a fan of Pied à Terre and David’s other restaurant L’Autre Pied, I’ve also been a fan of David himself after he appeared in Raymond Blanc’s reality TV series, The Restaurant. Sadly The Restaurant ended in 2010, but it was one of my favourite programs at the time and I loved watching what Raymond, David and the other judges thought about running a restaurant.
As we enjoyed a superb artichoke mousse, David told us about his time on The Restaurant, his appearances on Masterchef and the history of his wonderful restaurant.
Fuelled by a delicious Champagne Henriot, I was full of questions as I’m utterly fascinated by the restaurant industry and David’s tales of what goes on behind the scenes. On the subject of wine David explained the policy at the restaurant is to give diners a blind taste test and then tell them more about the wine afterwards. This way they can’t be snobby about it or be swayed by any prejudgment. We put our lives in the hands of the sommelier who promised to match each course with its ideal wine.
The seared and poached foie gras in a Sauternes consommé with coco beans and charred onions is one of the restaurant’s signature dishes so Mr Silver chose it for his starter. Generally I’m not a big fan of foie gras as I don’t like the fatty texture, but this one tasted silky smooth, the broth had deep and rich flavours and it was sat on a layer of perfectly cooked pasta. I genuinely think this dish may have converted me…
My starter was a beautifully prepared scallop ceviche and where Mr S’s was warming and hearty; mine was light and refreshing. The cooling cucumber and the sweet acidity of balsamic vinegar provided a balance in flavours and added different levels to this otherwise subtle dish.
Afterwards the sommelier presented the ‘mystery’ wines that had paired so beautifully with our starters; an intense and fruity Spanish wine for me and a dry New Zealand Riesling for my husband. The vineyard’s website describes the wine with the following phrase ‘this tastes like daffodils look’. I like that!
And here’s a quick pic of me so I can show you my new dress…
And back to the food…the chef allowed us to be totally flexible with the menu so we could try two smaller starters with a main course rather than going full throttle with a tasting menu. Mr S’s second starter was a pretty parcel of crab draped in lardo and wrapped in watermelon radish with caviar from Exmoor on the top. The crab itself was juicy and sweet and the coating of lardo was very light, so it wasn’t cloyingly fatty but it still delivered the intensity of flavour and saltiness.
My choice of humble asparagus was anything but boring. Of course it was perfectly prepared with just the right amount of bite and enhanced with hazelnuts and parmesan. But the real star of the show was the egg yolk. Slightly firm on the outside but oozing with #eggporny goodness on the inside. It’s prepared by removing all the white and poaching the egg in a plastic bag in order to achieve the perfect consistency.
With cooking like this it’s no surprise that the restaurant has retained a Michelin star for so long. Pied à Terre has seen several starry chefs in the kitchen throughout the years, including Tom Aiken, but the current chef is Andy Mcfadden. Andy has worked in some of the top restaurants in Ireland before coming to London to be chef de partie at Pied à Terre. In 2007 he was promoted to head chef at L’Autre Pied before returning to Pied à Terre in 2015, this time to lead the kitchen.
Our wines were revealed, mine a zesty white from the Hunter Valley, and Mr S’s wine hailed from Croatia. I don’t think I’ve had Croatian wine before but I very much enjoyed tasting it.
Mr S chose the fallow deer for main course and I don’t think I’ve ever tried deer cooked this perfectly before. Tender and rare and a plate that was visually stunning with red accents of chicory, beetroot and black pearl curry. It was served with fregola sarda, or Sardinian cous cous, which can only be described as sexed up mac n’ cheese. Posh comfort food at it’s best.
Seeing the word ‘artichokes’ on the menu and my decision was easy. A succulent piece of cod with crispy black quinoa in a pool of salty miso butter with pink grapefruit adding the balancing notes of acidity. A sublime dish, I just wish I wasn’t feeling so full already. An excellent bread basket will have the effect on you…
Fortunately, I saved a bit of room for the cheese course which was an absolutely fantastic selection and presented so beautifully. I loved the organic trunk-like holder for the crackers.
A vibrant palate cleanser gave us a little pause and chance to choose our dessert.
And stuffed full of foie gras, cheese and A LOT of wine we both decided to go for light and fruity options. It was a sweet and citrussy and rather unusual combo of pineapple, kaffir lime, cucumber and coriander for Mr S. And a pretty pink blend of Gariguette strawberries, almond, lemon and ice cream for me.
I love petit fours as they always make you feel like a kid in a candy store and the selection at Pied à Terre was gorgeous.
I totally loved the food at Pied à Terre, it was a totally faultless meal of classic cooking with the finest ingredients. I took me seven years to return to the restaurant but I definitely won’t leave it so long next time.
Pied à Terre
34 Charlotte Street
020 3589 2100
Our meal was complimentary but that’s not why I gave the restaurant a glowing review, the food was truly sensational