This Little Piggy went to Merchants Tavern - London
An opportunity to visit the latest venture between Angela Hartnett, Neil Borthwick (her partner and the head chef), Dom Lake and Patrick Clayton-Malone (the guys behind Canteen restaurants) before it officially opened was one I couldn’t turn down and so dragged a willing little piglet along with me for the ride.
As you enter, you step into the Parisian style brasserie and half-island bar area with cosy lighting strategically placed along the walls to immediately give off a relaxed air. Continental and good British beers are served alongside a great variety of spirits with cocktails in the offing aswell.
The chilled vibe continues in the main dining area which is housed under the main structure of the former apothecary warehouse. The décor is distinctly Mad
Men-esque with quality retro furniture, fish eye mirrors on the bare brick walls and comfortable banquettes which make long lunches very bearable. A cool haberdasher’s cabinet which doubles up as the waiters station completes a great look.
And so to the food………..as promised the menu has French, Italian and Spanish influences on seasonal produce from the British Isles. Each dish also seemed to have added extras that weren’t listed on the dish description but without them, the dish would have not been as successful.
I kicked off with Isle of Orkney Scallops with crushed pumpkin and Trompette De La Mort’. The scallops were cooked perfectly, soft to the knife with a lovely caramelised edge on top and bottom but the added extra of crushed pistachios as a topping was genius. So a slice of scallop, smear of pumpkin puree and little trompette mushrooms piled on top of every forkful meant I was extremely happy.
My piglet companion opted for the ‘ Pickled Mackerel, Orange & Chicory & Horseradish’.
Oily fish and citrus go extremely well together and with the added extra of sweet beetroot with a fresh but pungent horseradish cream, the almost ceviche mackerel was able to take on all accompanying elements to a greater flavoursome degree.
I was disappointed my requested main of Roast Loin of Venison was unavailable but the recommended alternative was ‘Roasted Pheasant, Braised Red Cabbage and Sprout Tops’.
I needn’t have been disappointed. The light gamey flavours complimented the autumnal red cabbage so well and added another dimension to the reduction that was in plentiful supply.
To adhere to my own made rules about ordering dishes in restaurants, no-one is allowed to order the same as anyone else so the second main that was opted for was the ‘Gloucester Old Spot Belly, Roast Cauliflower & Hispi Cabbage’.
A very generous square of piggy with some of the best crackling I’ve tasted and the most tender meat. It showed extremely good cooking skills. The piece de resistance was the globules of grapefruit puree which cut through the piggy fat and gave such a balanced all-round flavour.
After a nominal break we succumbed to the dessert menu. Being inquisitive I went for the ‘Paris Brest & Praline Cream’Reminiscent of a bagel, it was a light choux pastry filled with praline cream and generously sprinkled with dark chocolate and nuts. Perfect ending.
Piglet opted straight away for the ‘Rum Baba, Caramelised Apples & Raisins’.
It was deliciously boozy all round with the apples and raisins having been soaked in (I would guess) calvados and the cream infused with a similar flavour.
As it was the final week before opening we unfortunately didn’t get a chance to chat with Angela or Neil but every other staff member took the time to see how we were, what we thought of everything and made sure we were catered for in every way.
We were advised by Joel the Maitre’D that the menus would typically remain the same for a month or two and then be amended according to the seasons and produce readily available.
I can’t wait to return to see the next menu installment.
This Little Piggy approves.
© Ali Twidale. All Rights Reserved on Images and Texts.