>> Monday, August 05, 2013
This is the second post in the Work Week in London series. Other posts in this series include Hibiscus.
It was the most unusual week in London.
First of all, Bryan and I were there for work together. He had business meetings in London, and I was meeting up with colleagues in a town right outside of Oxford (about 45 minutes away by train). It was a whirlwind sort of week - the type where you fly on Monday, stay for three days, and then leave on Friday to be back in Boston for the weekend.
Our first evening, we met up with a good friend to enjoy a wonderful two-star Michelin meal at Hibiscus in London. Our second evening, we dined at what ended up being our favorite place this trip (which I'm saving for my last post in this series!).
On our last evening, we actually parted ways. After all, we were in London for work, and therefore work dinners were part of the package. Bryan went out with colleagues to a Jamie Oliver restaurant, while I met up with business partners at yet another 2-star Michelin restaurant.
Pied a Terre is the "bigger" sister restaurant to L'autre Pied, a lovely one-star Michelin restaurant that I visited last year (with many of the same people, in fact). I had loved it so much (I still think it's one of the best Michelin-star deals around), I wonder whether my hosts took that into account when choosing Pied a Terre for our dinner this year.
The interior ambiance of Pied a Terre reminds me just a bit of Mamma Maria back home. It's located in the middle of the city, and therefore has more real estate "up" than "out." Because I was there for a work function, we ate in the private dining areas upstairs, not the main dining room downstairs.
After seeing a brief glimpse of the main dining room (which looked cozy, intimate, and a perfectly wonderful place to enjoy dinner), we were whisked upstairs to a bar area where we enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and drinks.
Alas it is a business dinner after all, so I donned my wool sports jacket instead of a fancy gown or a colorful dress (though I guess it would have been fine to do that too - maybe I'm just being conservative?).
The service was impeccable and the little bites were exquisite and delicious. Here's a perfect fried scallop served in a scallop shell. We munched on several other passed hors d'oeuvres while enjoying various drinks (I had some lovely chamapagne).
Soon afterwards, we climbed yet another flight of stairs up to a stunning private dining room (see picture at top of post).
For the first course we enjoyed a lone seared scallop - cooked to perfection - in an intensely flavorful soup.
The next course was a seared fish, which was a piece of art. Not only was it plated beautifully, the flavors of spring - from seasonal farm-fresh vegetables to the foraged morel mushrooms - accented the dish perfectly. It wasn't until later that we found out that the delicate "puff" on top of the entire dish (filled with air) took an immense amount of skill to execute correctly.
The server smiled. "There are a lot of broken and misshapen ones in the back of the kitchen. For every "good" one you get, you're left with several bad ones."
The final course was a lovely piece of pork belly, complete with a golden crispy skin and served with roasted aromatics.
Cheese in London is always lovely. Not only do they have access to some incredible cheese right in England, France is right next door.
I loved the way they presented the flatbread (or shall I call them crackers?), each piece elegantly perched on this large stone like leaves on a tree trunk. The cheese was a comte from France, and it was delicious.
A simple fruit sorbet cleansed the palate nicely in preparation for our desserts.
My memory fails me on what this is exactly, but I believe it is a Valrhona chocolate dessert served with with tiny dots of caramel sauce, salted peanut ice cream, and jelly.
An assortment of petit-fours included pâte de fruit, chewy caramels, and truffles.
Pied a Terre is a lovely restaurant. The food was very good and service was top notch. In some ways, I feel like it's hard for me to give a normal assessment of what a typical dinner would be like. After all, we were eating in a private dining room several floors up from everyone else. We had our own dedicated servers, and we picked from a more limited tasting menu. I imagine it must be harder to cook for such a large party (I think we were something like 14 people) - especially at this level. Because of these limitations, it's possible I missed out on some of the restaurant's more complicated or spectacular dishes. Nevertheless, I still think they did an admirable job and we had a great time.
Someday, I think it would be fun to come back and enjoy a meal in the normal dining room. Perhaps I'd try some of their more extensive tasting menus, or maybe I'd even come for lunch just to try something different (lunch starts at £27.50 for two courses, reportedly the best Michelin star value in London).
For now, keep in mind this write-up is really just a tiny slice of the entire restaurant. I am convinced that the broader menu (especially the tasting menus) has many more interesting, exquisite, and impressive dishes. If I ever return, I promise I will update this post with my new photos and thoughts!
Pied a Terre
34 Charlotte St
London, UK W1T 2