In London, restaurants often come and go as trends change, so it’s quite an achievement to come across one that has been open for 25 years. Pied a Terre is one such restaurant, in fact it could well be the longest independently owned London dining establishment. Since 1991, founding director David Moore has welcomed guests to this Fitzrovia hotspot.
Located in the heart of foodie Charlotte Street, it’s an attractive looking place.
They acquired their first Michelin star in 1993, and two Michelin stars in 1996, with one star at present. Loyal customers keep returning so I was excited to be invited to sample the cuisine for myself. The main dining room is downstairs although there’s a large glass lightwell that keeps it bright and airy.
We were warmly greeted by the staff and seated in a comfortable leather booth. Pied a Terre, literally translated, means feet on the ground, or not so literally, bolthole. Whilst it’s the sort of bolthole that I’d happily frequent, my feet definitely felt like they hadn’t touched the ground during our 10 course tasting menu ;-). It normally comes with an optional wine flight for each course. However as I had an early flight to Hamburg the next day, we limited ourselves to a few glasses only. Our wine sommelier, Mathieu, was charming and made some great recommendations. I really got the feeling that he was fitting the wine to our taste. The meal got off to a good start with a chilled glass of Brut champagne.
We enjoyed it with a stunning selection of appetizers – crispy polenta with mushroom sauce and deep fried tapioca with paprika cracker, cod fish mousse and seaweed powder. Not only was the presentation stunning but it’s the first time that I’ve actually enjoyed eating polenta! The crunch of the light batter worked perfectly with the delicate fish mousse.
Our next course was an unusual combination of cheese curd, parsley oil, nuts and rainbow radish. It reminded me of a granola in texture. The parsley oil made a great addition to the dish and had a really concentrated flavour.
The wine list at Pied a Terre is phenomenal and there’s something for every taste. We tried a crisp white Gulfi Carjcanti 2012. This Sicilian wine is made from Carricante grapes, a variety that I hadn’t encountered before but with pleasing notes of grapefruit and a certain tartness making it ideal with seafood.
Gulfi wines are organic, manually harvested and surprisingly, no irrigation!
It was the perfect accompaniment for our hand dived scallops with rainbow radish, citrus and dill. This subtle dish was a real delight!
Although the celeriac, apple, walnut and Belper Knolle was equally tasty. If you’ve never heard of Belper Knolle then you’re like me ;-). It’s actually a hard Swiss cheese infused with Himalayan salt and garlic and covered in black pepper.
The John Dory with pink grapefruit, brassica, miso butter and black quinoa was a truly masterful dish. Brassica is another ingredient that I wasn’t familiar with, a mustard plant which gave an interesting dimension to the fish.
I’ve long been a fan of Portugese wine and our sommelier’s choice of red was fantastic – a Prazo de Roriz 2011 Douro. It had an attractive ruby red hue and red fruit flavours.
As for the Lavinton lamb with ratatouille, ricotta and anchovy, it was absolutely succulent. I don’t normally eat medium rare meat but this was extremely tender. Produced by shepherdess Sophie Arlott in Lincolnshire from traditional British breeds, they are fed naturally in pastureland. It’s served by six Michelin-starred chefs in their restaurants.
For the cheese course, we enjoyed a Blandy’s Madeira Malmsey Harvest 2008. This fine port brought back fond memories of our adventures in Madeira.
Just look at the selection of farmhouse cheeses!
And the presentation of the crackers is the most inventive I’ve ever seen.
For our dessert courses, we sampled a sweet white wine, Jurançon Lapeyre. This superb organic wine has oodles of character that benefit from the local limestone soil. One advantage of organic wines is that they rarely give you headaches due to the lack of chemicals used. Despite my early start the next day and the great selection of wines that we tried, I was fresh as a daisy! Pied a Terre holds private wine tastings in their Private Bar for up to 10 people, with five different wines, canapés, cheese and petits fours – Wine with Friends is a very reasonable £55 per person.
By now we were pretty full but the meal was well balanced and thankfully we had kept a little room for dessert – firstly an appetizer of coconut rice pudding with sake and yoghurt…
Followed by an elegant dish of strawberries, lemon and almond with Tahitian vanilla.
The chocolate cremeux with honeycomb and Guinness certainly didn’t disappoint either. We loved the contrasting honeycomb crunch and soft chocolate.
As for the petits-fours, they were the perfect finish to a delightful meal.
Before leaving, we had a look at the cosy front dining room…
Before heading into the kitchen to meet the chefs. Executive Head Chef Andy McFadden was busy at Taste London but his team had done a great job. Pied a Terre is one of those rare beasts, a fine dining restaurant where you feel truly relaxed. From the moment, that you walk in the door, you know you’re in good hands. That kind of service and cuisine will never go out of fashion, so here’s to the next 25 years!
Pied a Terre, 34 Charlotte Street, London W1T 2NH
Our dinner was complimentary for the purposes of this review