Nigel Platts-Martin has created a group of restaurants which inspire unequalled customer satisfaction. He has interests not only in ‘Londoners’ favourite restaurant’ – Wandsworth’s Chez Bruce – but also in such stand-outs as Notting Hill’s Ledbury, Chiswick’s Trompette and Kew’s Glasshouse. Apart from the super-swanky Square, in Mayfair, however, all his places are ‘out West’.
Three chefs who met up at La Trompette have now teamed up in a more City-friendly location (once the site of Fina Estampa, near Tower Bridge). Their new venture bears all the hallmarks of their former boss – it’s comfortable and unshowy, but with an unmistakable emphasis on quality.
One of the crew had previously worked for Heston Blumenthal at his famous Fat Duck at Bray, and the menu here – if not outlandish in the way of The Master – is enticingly different from the norm. A main course of smoked bacon gratin, for example, looked typical, but was actually made with chicory where you might usually expect to find pancake or pasta – a very tasty way of getting one of your ‘five a day’. A starter of lentils, boiled egg and anchovy was a dream, as was another of crab, fennel and chilli. Bread is top-notch. Pastry here looks set to be something of a speciality, too (although the excellent texture of our mille-feuille with chestnuts was let down by a shortage of flavour in the chestnuts department). The wine list is thoughtfully-constructed and good value.
Don’t be put off, incidentally, if the place seems to lack custom. They seem to hide the customers away at the back. We’re sure that such discretion will go down very well in the long run, but, in the shorter term, it might make more sense to show off the punters they’ve got.