Any views on Bacchus?
- oonth Dec 24, 2006 03:34 PM
I'm in London for a few days early next month and have read a couple of interesting articles about this recently opened gastropub with a twist including one in the Observer.
Does anyone have any feedback on the place?
Thanks, I'm definitely inclined to give it a go as I am a fan of the so-called genre having tried out Fat Duck and various exponents in Barcelona, New York and Chicago over the last couple of years and overall found the cuisine to be more hit than miss. I also like the story behind the restaurant as reported in the Observer article I read -
Neighbourhood I know to be a little less than salubrious having spent quite a lot of time in those environs when I lived in London.
It's been 18 months since I decamped from London to New York - anywhere else in your opinion (new and noteworthy or old and enduring) that I should be aiming to check out when I'm in town? Shortly before my departure, I remember having a couple of high grade meals, one at Maze and the other at the Capital.
Well, Simon is going to have the best tips on all the latest new and noteworthy places...I'm guessing he'll pop up eventually, but in the interim, check out http://www.majbros.blogspot.com/
I'm hoping to get to Hawksmoor sometime soon, myself. New(ish) steak place by Liverpool Street. Supposed to be fantastic.
I usually recommend The Princess, The Fox, and The Coach & Horses to anyone looking for a good gastropub meal. Otherwise, for great wine bars with great food, try Vinoteca on St John Street by Smithfield, and The Providores on Marylebone High Street (which has been around for a while, so you might already know it).
You might want to take a wander through Spitalfields to see how the area has changed in the last 18 months. Pretty crazy. More eating options than before, for sure. Canteen is a popular choice.
You'll have to file a report at the end of your trip...
Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately it looks like best laid plans will be scuppered and I'll be doing mainly local eating in NW3 and NW6 or indulging in my mum's home cooked Indian fare. Plus I am out of commission all day Saturday at a friend's wedding so two doses of wedding food with canapes and the sit down. I will however find time to revisit Saki in West Smithfield as I'll be working near there on Monday - if you haven't been I would recommend trying it out for quality sushi and sake.
Of the places you mention, Vinoteca I sampled on my last visit and agree that it's a great place (there should be lots more places like this throughout London - also check out the Italian piadina place opposite which serves Neapolitan sfogliatelle pastries); Hawksmoor - I'm not much of a steak fiend but will make a note of the name; of the gastropubs, I have been to and semi-enjoyed Coach and Horses but haven't tried the two others; Providores, I know quite well and had good experiences in the downstairs tapas area but mediocre experiences upstairs (bit of trivia for you - the people behind Providores have a NY restaurant called Public in NoLIta which serves pan Asian/pan Aussie fare - I like its offerings more than most). And I did wander through Spitalfields (a favourite old stamping ground) last November although didn't get a chance to try Canteen or any of the other places.
Took a look at your blog and noticed a fair amount of common interest with places that I frequented/checked out when I was London based.
My wife and I went last night on a whim.
We did a fairly thorough set of research before, noticing that the normal person reviews were good, but the "professional" reviews were pretty awful.
Regardless, we pushed forward, mostly because it's an adventure. :)
So we went to Old Street tube, and walked the fairly creepy dark street of Hoxton to the restaurant. It looks like a pub which is neat. We were the only customers as we were a 6:00pm booking.
Nice waitstaff, but the constant talking up of Nuno was a little disconcerting as I don't know the guy. It was a little weird, but I guess they were just making smalltalk.
In order to give the place the best chance possible we went with the full 9 course tasting menu. No wine as we're non-drinkers.
We started with a potato (or sweet potato, I couldn't quite tell) foam with a ginger crumble on top.
Really wonderful for a start. Rich, creamy and buttery, with a teeny tiny hint of ginger. Topped with a great large grained sea salt. Good after coming in from the cold rainy weather.
Next was a Scallop and Japanese Mushroom dish. 1 Scallop, lightly cooked on top of japanese mushrooms and a foam (Potentially Dashi, but couldn't tell).
This was a tough one. The scallop itself was stellar. Rich, sweet, salty, just lightly cooked. The foam, well it didn't taste of much. The mushrooms were tasty, but didn't really have much to do with the scallop.
It was almost as if the dish didn't know what was the important part. While I was eating I kept thinking that he should've just gone with scallops and a stronger foam, instead of bringing in the mushrooms as well.
To be fair, it was still a tasty dish, but it was just close to greatness.
Next was a Pork Jowl Wrapped Langoustine with a Greek Yoghurt, Leek Puree and Soy Paint, topped with edible flowers and some mangosteen pieces.
This was a killer dish. Complex, rich, and elegant. The Langoustine itself was amazing, but the acoutrements were just perfect. The Yoghurt was slightly vanilla flavored, and the leek puree was just as rich. Together with the soy paint and Jowl, a beautiful combination.
My favorite dish of the evening.
Then we had a squid and octopus salad, with a truffle/squid ink paste.
This was a toughie. I loved the paste and the salad, but it was just a tad over salted. In fact, one of the common threads with some of these dishes was over salting. Funnily enough, I think if he switched to a smaller grained salt, it would've been okay.
Great flavor though. Squid pieces, and the ink-paste went together well.
Next was a sweet potato foam topped with Greek Yoghurt.
This was served with a comically large spoon. Like a serving spoon in the shape of a soup spoon. So large it was difficult to eat.
At the bottom was some sort of onion crumble, with anise cented pieces. Very mild, but didn't do much for me...
This was too much yoghurt, and didn't have a whole lot of sweet potato. That, coupled with the irritating spoon, and I didn't care for this one that much.
Then we had a "Rabbit Mousse" wrapped in potato slices, topped with a milk reduction. Also had a few cherries on the plate.
The mousse part was almost exactly like a rabbit sausage. Thing sausage casing with a thin potato housing, topped with "pudding skin". Fairly flavorless, save for a light citrus zest hint.
The cherries were very strong, but didn't do much for the core dish.
Wonderous presentation, but nothing astounding in terms of flavor.
Then was the "challenging" dish. Low temperature poached egg over Dashi and some chicken and japanese mushrooms.
Think a barely poached egg on top of some minced chicken, thin mushrooms, served in a cup of what almost tasted identical to oil. I know it wasn't oil, but that's what it was like from a mouth feel standpoint.
I ate most of mine, but it wasn't that interesting in terms of flavor or texture. I think if instead of the Dashi (which I think was the oily bit), it would've helped to have something to match with the raw-ish egg.
My wife really hated this one. The mouth feel of this one was too much for her.
Then we had the sous-vide salmon.
I'm not a salmon head, but I dug this one. It was a slow cooked piece of salmon over a date and hazelnut puree with a cinnamon pastry piece.
I loved the salmon. It's neat to have a piece of fish that's been cooked so long that the fish connective tissue broke down. It was just melty in terms of mouth feel, almost with a sushi-esque flavor. Very nice.
The rest of the dish was meh. The sauce was very sweet and had little to do with the salmon, and the pastry piece tasted kinda like a churro.
Next was a Lamb Loin served with Vanilla Parsnips and a Fig Brulee.
Once again, the large grained salt sprinkled on top just clobbered the first bite or two. Once I got below that, it was quite nice.
Very rare pieces of lamb, without a hint of game. A thick layer of fat was on top of each piece, which made them taste wonderful, but there's always the question of whether I should be eating huge pieces of fat.
Texture wise it was pretty chewy, but still had some great flavor.
The Parsnips were nice, lightly sweetened, but still tasting like parsnips.
The Fig brulee tasted just like fig newtons. Very good.
Finally we had a Black Olive Financier (Looked like a thin banana bread) topped with roasted pear ice cream and served with honeyed pine nuts.
I loved this. The ice cream was a nice complement, but the sweetened black olives were just great. The Pine nuts didn't appeal to me visually, as roasted honeyed pine nuts end up looking sorta like bug eggs.
Great desert though.
After the full 9 courses we were just thrashed. Huge tasting menus like this take it out of you...
Damage was 55 pounds per person. With gratuity, ~130
Overall I'm definitely happy I went. I think as a chef he needs to iterate on some of his dishes, potentially simplify some, lay off on the large grained salt, and taste more things.
Having a stronger sense of humor would help as well. The atmosphere of the place is nice and laid back which is appealing, but having a sense of humour about foams and the off the wall prep methods might help in terms of hitting a larger audience.
A pretty good meal though. Sorry I couldn't give the definitive go or no-go, but there were simply too many positives and negatives for me to say definitively.
If you do go, You might want to stick with the ala-carte menu as you can skip the misses we hit.
Thanks for the comprehensive report. After doing the Full Monty degustation at Fat Duck, Alinea and various other places, I no longer choose this option - too hit and miss; too much going on per dish in terms of richness, complexity and experimentation and overall just too much damned food. Luckily some places now offer 3-5 course mini degustations - places in Barce and the Basque country come to mind.
Yeah. Huge tasting menus turn out to be more grueling than fun once you get towards the tail end. Me and my wife did a full 13 course menu at Tru in Chicago, with each of us getting 13 unique dishes.
That was just a death march towards the end.