October 13, 2019

Disappointing fat bastard

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After resting up a little in the hotel, it was time to head to dinner.  I had asked some people for suggestions on Sunday dinner in London, and one of the places mentioned was Claude Bosi at Bibendum.  Not having stepped foot in London for more than a decade, naturally I haven't paid much attention to Claude Bosi as a chef.  As a matter of fact, the last time I dined at Bibendum was more than two decades ago!

But... around the time I was looking to book dinner, there was talk that this place could be promoted to 3 stars by... Bibendum, of course!  As the announcement was due to come this past Monday, I figured that if the promotion actually happened, I would be among the first to dine here after the promotion.  That sounded kinda cool.

I was rather surprised that we chose the 'surprise menu' featuring 6 courses.  I thought for sure we would end up doing à la carte...

Bibendum black olive – crushing it inside the mouth delivers a liquid dose of ratatouille and basil. This was really, really good.

Spiced foie gras parfait, chocolate tuile, verjus gel – the spices were pretty interesting.

Tartlette with custard of smoke paprika, shrimp, and lemon gel – nice texture from the shrimp and crunchy pickles.

Filo pastry with taramasalata, sweet corn purée, trout roe – this was really lovely.

Bibendum egg – filled with pasnips purée, little chunks of compressed nashi pear, coconut foam, curry powder. Too bad the curry was just too overpowering.

Cornish crab, English apple, common sorrel - crab bavarois topped with pressed Granny Smith apples and sorrel.

I found the crab a little over-seasoned, and the chef was probably trying to use the apple to balance out the flavors.

Nosotto – a “risotto” made with pine nuts in the style of cacio e pepe, and some saucisse de Morteau. The texture was interesting, but flavor-wise it was just too acidic and too peppery.  We added a little bit of white truffle on top...

Mussels with Brie, raspberries, and Mexican cucumber – when I asked our server if it was a particular type of cucumber, she replied “it’s a smaller cucumber.” No shit, Sherlock! I can see the size for myself. If you don’t fucking know when a customer asks, at least take the effort to ask the kitchen.

In any case, I wasn’t a fan of the dish. The cheese flavors seemed much heavier than those coming from Brie, and I didn’t understand why the cheese would have integrated together with raspberries and cucumbers, not to mention the charcoal oil that they also added to the mix.

Escargot à la Parisienne, Genovese basil pesto, wild garlic foam, garlic powder, and “tempura” – this time I could see the flavors all working together, but unfortunately the dish was simply much too rich with the garlic foam. The whole flavor profile was too heavy, and once again the black pepper was too heavy-handed.

Partridge (?) - breast roasted on the bone and covered with “tempura” and paprika. Leg was cooked confit. With a sweet corn condiment that came with curry powder, and jus. OK lah…

Blackberry, crémeux Nantais, buttermilk and matcha – blackberry came both as frozen berries and as jam, and we’ve also got frozen coconut powder along with the matcha powder. Honestly, this was so sour and it needed more milk and cream to help neutralize, and I don’t think I tasted any matcha

Black figs, cardamon, fig leaves – yes, the menu read “cardamoN”… So we’ve got black figs enclosed in a meringue, topped with a quenelle of cardamom ice cream, and surrounded by yogurt snow. There’s also some walnut crumble in the mix. This was good… especially that cardamom ice cream.

I picked out a bottle I felt was reasonably priced and ready to drink.

2008 Léoville-Barton – nice smokiness here with graphite notes. Nice and woodsy with pretty decent fragrance.

Honestly, it was hard to be more disappointed with this meal. Heavy-handedness aside, the flavors were all wrong and didn’t jive together. There was a ridiculous amount of “Asian” elements in many of the dishes – curry powder, matcha powder, and “tempura” – that it just seemed too contrived. Another case of a European chef who tried to be hip by showing us that he, too, knows Asian flavors. Well, the two Asians at the table didn’t buy it. We didn’t even want to finish some of the dishes.

Had this place got the promotion this week, I would have been screaming “WTF” at the top of my lungs. As is, I don’t even understand how they got their second star. Certainly not a place I would recommend any of my friends to visit…

1 comment:

Westy said...

Your comment about European chefs wanting to be hip with Asian flavours/ingredients is so tru. My meal at Pic early this your was very much a case in point with the chef trying to feature Japanese elements . Really did not work. Even sent Sophie Pic a copy of Christian Bau's new book. Did not even receive acknowledgement let alone thanks but hey maybe it will lead some chef of her brigade to a higher plane of comprehension. ;-)


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