L’Autre Pied

5 Blandford Street, Marylebone W1U | lautrepied.co.uk | Fri 18th June ’10

I often get asked what my favourite restaurant in London is, to which my default answer is : “it depends”. But, it really does depend… Are you after a posh meal or something more casual? Michelin starred cuisine or a down-and-dirt cheap eat? Categories aside though, there is one place in particular that often gets a mention when I’m posed with this elusive question. I’ve been back to L’autre Pied 3 times since a quite awesome first meal back in 2008, and in that time have seen head chef Marcus Eaves rightfully earn his first Michelin star to join the ranks of its 2 star sibling, Pied a Terre. Despite the great-tasting combinations, cutting-edge complexity and stunning plating on offer here, L’autre Pied’s contemporary dining room is so accessible and un-intimidating that you wouldn’t look out of place if you rocked up in a comfy T-shirt and your favourite pair of jeans.

Glazed Herefordshire Snails, Smoked Bacon & Snail Beignets, Wild Garlic Cream and  Rocket Vinaigrette

It’s tough to decide on what you want to eat here as the combinations always sound too good to be true. Everything we did end up ordering on our most recent visit was on song and utterly delicious. My starter of Herefordshire Snails was a cunning and original reinvention of the traditional L’Escargot. On one hand, the familiar variety, roasted in a garlic and herb-oil-glaze. Juxtaposed beside that, deep-fried fritters (“beignets”) of Snail-y, bacon-ey goodness. Sublime with the fresh rocket salad, herb oil and subtle wild-garlic cream it was served with.

Seared Foie Gras with Apple and Ginger Cake, Glazed Beetroot and Baby Wood Sorrel

Jo’s seared Foie Gras dish was a real beauty. Abstract teardrops of pureed beetroot provided the dish with a fresh acidity to cut through the divine richness of the foie gras and sweet spices from the Apple and Ginger cake. A great combination of flavours, but a little stingy in the portion department.

Poached Native Lobster, Herb Tagliatelle, Pineapple Tomato, Shaved Fennel and Lobster Fondue

Lobster tagliatelle was the best of the dishes that evening. A simple, elegant combination of sweet, perfectly poached lobster meat, on a bed of tomato, fennel and herb tagliatelle with an air-light yet rich bisque-like fondue sauce to accompany. As you work through the various layers, textures and flavours of the foam, then pasta, fondue, then lobster meat, you will very quickly see why L’Autre Pied was awarded a Michelin star within 14 months of opening.

Steamed and Roasted Saddle of Rabbit, Broad beans, White Asparagus and Pommery Mustard Sauce

If you haven’t noticed by now, Eaves seems to have a way with his plating that makes food look almost alive. My main dish of Rabbit with Asparagus and Broad beans was like a meadow brim-full of every trimming of the animal from neck down (including the kidneys!). The Roasted loins were the best bit… wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with a champagne-mustard sauce, it was packed full of flavour and complemented beautifully by the fresh greens, potato cakes and demi-glaze sauce.

Summer fruit sorbet, prosecco and elderflower granita, Devonshire clotted cream

After the roller-coaster of flavours, a soothing dessert was well in order. The granita we ordered offered just that – a refreshing, melt-in-the mouth (albeit brain-freezing) concoction of elderflower and prosecco. The berry-licious sorbet and Devonshire clotted cream was a playful take on strawberries and cream. A hero of a palate cleanser packed full of the British summer.

If you are dining ala Carte for dinner, damage for 2 including drinks will likely just surpass the £100 quid mark. Yes, its a little more expensive now compared to its pre-Michelin days, but for me, it’s been consistently the best of the one-starrers and worth every penny.

G.

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