Lunch at Petrus Sat 27th March 27, 2010

Kinnerton St SW1

petrus

Very curvy, art deco feel to the interior, with an impressive central wine cellar (above) with an astonishing range of wines, including the eponymous Petrus for which I would need a mortgage…

The staff were most friendly and attentive, led by Jean-Philippe Susilovic and his team. JP assured us that they are not looking for Michelin stars, but they want to be the local restaurant to suit all pockets, with the set lunch at £25, I believe that it may well achieve this. Of course there are other menus up to the degustation at £65, but it the wine list which we be the undoing of many I suspect.

We were welcomed with the house cocktail, cherry puree with vodka, vanilla and champagne, the children would have loved it, and indeed it was refreshing and light and reminiscent of childhood fizzy drinks. With the cocktail we were brought 2 cones of popcorn, one with smoked paprika, the other with lemon pepper, a humorous light touch to match the drinks.

After this the small amuse gueule bowl of soup appeared, creamy leak and potato with sweet shallots on the bottom, most delicate. Fantastic bread and butter too.

I chose the crab and salmon cannelloni, although we were going to share in any case, and this was encouraged. I remember my oldest brother being mortified when we went to eat in restaurants in France as children and swapped out food. James had the terrine of rabbit and foie gras with a carrot chutney and small salad with hazelnuts. The latter being the star of that course, with a wonderful variety of textures to the slightly chewy rabbit and the sublime velvety foie gras, wrapped in a thin sheet of pancetta. The accompanying bits also played their part perfectly. The terrine was served with the thinnest Melba toast I have ever eaten – perfection.

We felt that the balance of salmon and crab went too much in favour of the salmon, and it could have been lighter, but it was good nonetheless. I did enjoy the bed of lightly braised lettuce leaves which the cannelloni sat on and there was also some raw apple on the top, which I did not get to taste.

The main courses were sea trout with sweet corn, and beef cheek in a cardamom bouillon. The sea trout was cooked to perfection, with a crispy skin.

The beef cheek was tender and the clear soup was so lightly spiced with cardamom, that it would be easy to have missed it. It was in the tradition of a pot au feu that your French grandmother might have made, served with small silver terrine s of vegetables. The portions were not huge, but deceptively filling, and I was struggled to finish mine.

As an entr’acte came a small cone of lemon soufflé, perfectly tart in its crispy crepe dentelle cornet.

Then came the puddings, a bitter beer chocolate parfait, and a roasted fennel crème brulee with Alphonse mango – again a triumph of lightness and the mango and fennel a marriage made in heaven. The beer and chocolate is definitely a macho combination, with a tribute to Snickers in the form of the roast salted peanuts on the plate and in the middle of the parfait. I believe its all the rage among French pastry chefs, though I have never been a huge fan of the peanut in this context.

To finish, small bars of chocolate 72% cocoa in after eight style envelopes delivered in their own little chest, and made by Artisan du Chocolat, were really excellent, well balanced, fruitly with a hint of roast coffee and chocolate almonds with a perfect short shot of espresso to finish the meal.

The bill for two with service and two bottles of water, the cocktails and a bottle of Beaujolais came to £160. The drinks were the largest part of the bill, and if you did not go for an expensive bottle of wine, and cocktails I believe that this really is a bit of bargain. Certainly the impeccable service, beautiful touches and atmostphere made it a meal to remember.

Oh I almost forgot, after that come some mini ice cream balls in dry ice, with white chocolate and armagnac – a brilliant touch.

There is a chefs table in the kitchen which I am sure is a great way of keeping the tone calm and orderly, and everything seemed to be perfectly orchestrated, not a raised voice to be heard, and no sign of Gordon.

Worth the detour and a great asset to this little corner of Belgravia which might now claim to be the gastronomic heart of the London…

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