Rack of lamb with confit shoulder, tongue,
petit pois à la française and jersey royals
There's something a little ironic about taking tips from a Sydneysider on where to eat in my home town of London, but I couldn't help picking up a few ideas from Trina's visit to London last year. NOPI turned out to be one of my highlights of 2012 and Medlar was another one of Trina's suggestions that caught my eye.
They have a fantastic value dinner menu (£42 for three course) for Michelin starred food. It just had to be done as a birthday dinner.
Crab raviolo with samphire, brown shrimps,
fondue or leeks and bisque sauce
I'd seen on Medlar's website that they had some fantastic looking booths, but sadly we weren't seated at one of those. The tables for two are small and close together, but thoughtful positioning means you don't notice your neighbours too much, even if they are only inches away.
Once we said we were happy with tap water a jug was brought to a table with a glass of ice. Both were kept constantly topped up during the evening. I thought the ice was a nice touch.
New season’s asparagus with jamón ibérico, goat’s cheese
mousse and broad bean vinaigrette
The menu has seven starters, main and desserts so there is plenty of choice even though you are paying closer to prix fixe prices. As a starter I went for the crab raviolo with samphire, brown shrimps, fondue or leeks and bisque sauce and if I'm honest I was a little underwhelmed.
I was hoping for knock your socks of Michelin starred birthday meal special, and it just wasn't there. I'd run a crazy hard half marathon that morning and I couldn't quite decide if it was me or the food. I feared that I was in for a meal I wasn't really going to enjoy.
I'm still not quite sure if it was me or the food. However, after the starter the meal built and built. I definitely didn't leave dissapointed.
Under blade fillet with café de paris snails, salad, triple
cooked chips and béarnaise
I wasn't sure about ordering steak and chips in a fine diner, but if you can't order what you fancy on your birthday when can you? The under blade fillet with café de paris snails, salad, triple cooked chips and béarnaise was pretty awesome.
The tripple cooked chips remained crunchy to the last even though they were sitting in the sauce. Both the sauce on the plate and the béarnaise were rich, but they somehow complimented and cut through each other rather than becoming overwhelming. I'm not really sure what the snails added, apart from making the dish sound more interesting on the menu.
Cannelé with camp ice cream and molten
When it came to the dessert menu we didn't know our chibousts from our cannelés or our croustads, but we were ably assisted by our waitress who explained all.
I went for the cannelé with camp ice cream and molten Congolese chocolate. If, like me, you haven't had a cannelé before I can definitely recommend them. The custard batter is baked in a special mould to give an almost caramelised exterior and a soft, almost brioche texture, vanilla custard flavoured inside. The Congolese chocolate sauce was spoon lickingly good as well.
Pear and almond croustade with cocoa nib ice cream
Becks wasn't too happy at having to give up the croustade half way through and to be fair I don't blame here. The soft and sublte pear innards of the croustade and the cocoa nib ice cream were pretty fab.
All through the meal I had been staring at the cheese trolley, and despite all the food, I was still a bit hungry after my running efforts that morning. I asked my friendly waitress to give me a pause and then dived in.
I wasn't quite sure of the form and how many cheese you were allowed, but the server seemed a bit disappointed when I stopped at three so I asked for an extra two. It seemed like the polite thing to do. One of my favourite cheese was the Oxford Isis.
We couldn't help comparing Medlar to our other fine dining experience of the year, lunch at the Ledbury. It was difficult to compare and a close run thing. The Ledbury possibly edged it in pure terms food, but Medlar probably gets the nod in terms of value it. We paid a similar price for both meals, but the Ledbury was a lunch special and you'd pay a lot more for dinner. As Trina said, Medlar is the value hunters Michelin star.
438 King's Road