This Little Piggy went to Hibiscus - London
A Christmas lunch in a Michelin starred establishment was called for so Claude Bosi’s Hibiscus restaurant in Mayfair was chosen by a piglet. Hibiscus started life in the wilds of Shropshire but moved to it’s present Mayfair location in 2006. French molecular gastronomy is what they serve here so we went for the maximum amount of 8 courses on the tasting menu to enjoy the experience as much as possible.
With the arrival of our amuse bouche in an egg box, we knew the playful but serious taste of what was within was an exciting prospect for what was to come for the rest of the afternoon. A delicate baby blue egg shell housed ‘Chestnut Mushroom, Coconut & Curry En Cocotte’ which was light, foamy but packed full of all those flavours. Taste buds were a-tingling.
So the first course proper was presented, the ‘Salad of Devonshire Crab Turnip and Smoked Olive Oil Cream’ and initially looked like a spaghetti bundle with classic Michelin blobbing surrounding it but when you peeled back the thin white pieces of string, you uncovered a sweet mound of crab. The ‘spaghetti’ was the turnip and needed the crab to give it any sort of flavour. The Olive Oil Cream didn’t have that much olive oil flavour but lightened the crab so a dab was pleasant enough with each forkful.
The light fish theme continued for the next course and we were delivered ‘Carpaccio of Scottish Hand Dived Scallop, Black Radish, Hazelnut and Truffle’. Unfortunately even though my favourite ingredient in the world was included in this dish (truffle) it really didn’t come through enough and the overwhelming flavour was lemon juice. You could tell the scallop was of the highest quality but on its own tasted vastly under seasoned and it's accompaniments didn’t raise it's flavour enough.
Coming onto the main fish dish of the tasting menu, ‘Isle of Gigha Halibut Brown Butter, Capers and Lemon’, a very chunky halibut fillet was brought to our table, balanced on crushed potatoes and a foamy brown butter was then poured all over. When I say every mouthful filled me with happy and buttery blissful contentment, I’m not exaggerating. I dread to think exactly how much butter was used in that sauce and in the potatoes (which had added little meat lardon extras hidden within) but for the duration of that course I didn’t care. That dish will remain in my taste bud memory for years to come and its hands down top of my Best Fish Dish list. I was so upset when it came to the end.
The next dish of ‘Ravioli of Smoked Potato, Egg Yolk and Black Truffle’ wasn’t a cake topped with chocolate buttons as I first thought when the waiter brought it out. This was another slightly disappointing dish (especially as it had just followed the halibut) as once again the taste of truffle was very faint and the smoky flavour once you had cut into the ravioli was then all you could taste.
A very interesting dish was next up in the form of ‘Hibiscus Black Pudding, Winkles, Apple and Celery’. The black pudding took the form of a long cake shape rather than the standard round discs with the winkles sprinkled along the top giving the impression of chocolate bobbles on a slice of cake. The apple element came in the form of jelly and provided a really nice sweet contrast to the meat heavy pudding and the celery was pureed into the freshest green sauce it was almost like tasting freshly cut grass. A really nicely balanced and flavoured course I would recommend everyone to try.
The main meat dish was next on the tasting menu and it was a classic French protein ‘Barbecued Goosnargh Duck, Cumin Oil, Pumpkin and Tamarillo’.
The large shard of duck had amazing crispy skin but was slightly too rare for my liking so the flesh seemed flabby and difficult to cut into. The pumpkin was pureed and with little additions of pumpkin seeds, was quite delightful to eat with the duck meat. Not a lot of cumin flavour came forth from the oil and the tamarillo fruit (or ‘tree tomato’) didn’t provide any flavour so seemed redundant on that plate.
A palate cleansing pre-dessert came out in a shot glass and was a lovely combo of ‘Melilot Flower Panna Cotta with Golden Delicious Apple Puree’. Very nicely balanced.
The first of two desserts was ‘Iced Chestnut Parfait with Sharon Fruit’ but was either too frozen or hadn’t had enough chestnuts added as it was simply a cold bland glass of cream.
The second dessert was much better flavoured and had the main nutty, creamy element along with a fruity and vegetable sorbet in the form of ‘Hazelnut Cream Millefeuille with Passionfruit and Pumpkin’. This was extremely filling so was a perfect end to a tasting menu and could afford to be indulgent.
This Little Piggy approves.
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