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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pre-theater at Pied a Terre

Just some impressions, not a full blown careful review, about a short pre-theater December dinner at that long-standing bastion of Michelin excellence, Pied a Terre.

An impressive, generous, intricate amuse, whose list of ingredients is sufficient for a meal: pea pannacotta, toasted almond foam, jerusalem artichoke (right), foie gras in a sandwich of poppy seeds fillopastry (centre), onion and chorizo cake (centre left), parmesan and tomato gnocco (communist)

Sculpted flavours, multidimensional, and much unctuosity.

Wood pigeon in Madeira Consomme' and salt-crusted celeriac:

Deep flavours, dark flavours. Pity that the salt of the celeriac crust dissolved in the soup, defeating the purpose, we believe.

A beautiful Tempura prawns and butternut squash risotto

which stunned us for the idea, mixing two traditions, and the excellent execution of the risotto (and the toasted pumpkin seeds a perfect touch). Much unctuosity.

A brill:

perfectly cooked material of absolute quality, in a pungent reduction. For its (partly just apparent) simplicity, one the best dishes.

A lamb,
a dish of literally towering complexity whose naturally explosive flavours could have spoken for themselves even better, we think, with a simpler, lighter, less fatty preparation. But that caramelised chicory was a beauty, and that tender fillet, dreamy. Much unctuosity.

We were certainly happy, very impressed, though for some reason not totally ravished by this cuisine, in which we found expressed a flamboyant imagination and technique knowing no boundaries, yes, but which also struck us as somehow lacking lightness and the killer punch of simplicity (such as we recently found, for example at Heinz Beck's place). It's probably just a matter of subjective taste, as Shane Osborne is obviously a great professional. Dare we say it? To us it seems almost as if he is, after all these years, still trying too hard.

We were ravished, however, by the service, so friendly, charming and willing to offer all the time and attention in the world even to customers of the least profitable or least refined variety (like the guys who made a sandwich with the butter on the table). We'd like to compete for the least profitable competition, as we were there for a quick bite of the pre-theater two course offer at £32.50.

It would be nice to be back. But at full prices, and even at lunch/pre-theater prices, there's a long list of possibly more immediately compelling competitors...


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