You will not find many restaurants, serving a lunch menu that is better, or at least as interesting as the (more expensive) a la carte menu. I can think of Pic, Les Ambassadeurs, Le Louis XV and, in London Foliage. Pied a Terre is another one of these. Shane Osborn’s cooking is often criticised as being too complicated, featuring a multitude of unnecessary elements on each plate. If one looks at the reviews of others (Food Snob for instance), one sees that Osborn isn’t exactly a minimalist chef. He much prefers to construct dishes consisting of many, small, technically perfect components. The menu du jour (24.50£ for 2 courses) features Osborn’s cuisine, without the extreme complication of the normal dishes. Here, he focuses on top quality products and relatively classic taste combinations.
The restaurant is relatively small, cozy and it’s atmosphere is quite relaxed for a 2*. It is also noteworthy, that it is one of the rare restaurants without a dress-code.
At lunch, one is greeted with a spoonful of pumpkin foam and ginger oil and a little foie gras spread between two sheets of philo pastry. Both are very well made and set the palate up in a most enjoyable way, especially the foie.
As the restaurant had run out of both of the menu’s starters I was offered a Jerusalem artichoke risotto. This was a very pleasing dish, were one could only criticise the slightly overcooked rice (I guess that it was cooked this way to adapt to the Brits’ taste). Flavour-wise this was strong, simple and very comforting. Not quite what you see on the starters of the alc menu. Despite the cooking mistake, I would still say this was a very enjoyable dish.
After this, we were offered a dish from the tasting menu, which let us enjoy a remarkable piece of fish: Poached Sea Bass, Truffle Crust, Romanesco, Chanterelles. Pinenuts, Broccoli Veloute. Despite the complete standstill of the British economy during the preceding days and Osborn’s allergy against fish (he can only touch it with gloves!) this was on solid 2* level. Perfectly cooked, beautiful sea bass, with a crust that reminded me of the one I had a week earlier at Foliage (sole) and different broccoli preparations. All in all, every element had a very precise role on the plate and resulted in one hell of a dish. Excellent.
Pan-Fried Cod, Ragout of Chick Peas, Chorizo, Red Peppers and Sea Kale, Parsley and Lemon Emulsion. Yet another excellent fish dish! This might have been the best piece of cod that I’ve had since Erfort last year. The cod was of pristine freshness and cooked to utmost perfection. One can hardly say a negative word about the dish, as it was the second brilliant, if rather classical, dish from a chef who can not even touch the main ingredient!
My companion decided to take cheese, which featured a beautiful Epoisses, a nice little salad, the quintessentially British crackers and some rather mediocre chutney.
The pre-dessert was another part of the tasting menu: Apple Mousse, Rhubarb Veloute, Yoghurt Crumble. The second time that I come across this strange British winter rhubarb, although it was a very pleasant meeting once more. The freshness of the rhubarb, the very present yoghurt taste in the crumble and the apple mousse were yet again a very pleasing, excellent combination of flavours and textures.
Coconut Rice Pudding, Mango Jelly, Coconut Biscuits, Mango Sorbet. At my last visit, the desserts were not on the same level as the previous parts of the meal. This time, the dessert did not fail to impress. An amazingly intensive, fully-flavoured mango sorbet, very light, fresh rice pudding wrapped in a delicate jelly and a pleasant coconut emulsion created a simple but very refreshing dessert. Excellent again.
After this we had their top quality petit-fours and some coffee and at 5pm, left as they finally closed the place for a well deserved break.
What can I say after my second meal here? In general, the relaxed atmosphere, extremely friendly, warm and attentive service all add up to the great food that Shane Osborn serves. The sommelier, Matthieu Germond, always suggests very interesting wines to accompany each dish and can offer a wide variety of regions, not always present in the UK’s top restaurants: Luxembourg, for instance, whose great wines are hardly known outside of the countries borders. Another strength of the wine list is Austria, which is present with different regions.
It might be the small room, the lovely service or simply the great cooking, but Pied is definitely one of the most comfortable British top-restaurants.