Tuesday, 1 March 2011
I had the afternoon off work and decided to treat someone special to a lunch at Hibiscus. Continuing with my quest to try all the two Michelin starred restaurants in London this eatery was next on my list.
Hibiscus is located in the heart of Mayfair, just beside Regents Street. The restaurant has a polite dining room with a subtle, pared down decor apart from the extravagant flowers that sit gloriously in the centre of the room. It is a swish operation with clever automatic doors and hidden drawers providing equipment for the best standard of service.
While contemplating the menu I was delighted to see the most delicious looking petit fours being delivered to the next door table, each diner received (with their coffee) a small oblong plate with four different tiny chocolates, it almost made me wish the meal away for my turn. Money restrictions meant the set lunch was the only option for our visit but I had a quick glance at the full a la carte as it is a better indicator of the chef’s creativity. This menu costs £80 for three courses. The choices are certainly more daring than at the other Michelin establishments I have visited recently, for example the starters – Raw Bouquet Shrimps & Lychees, Warm Ravioli of Kohlrabi & Pig’s Trotters, Galician Sea Urchins.
The set lunch menu has two seemingly generous options: £29.50 for 3 courses or £38 for 3 courses plus glass of wine, coffee & petit fours, we opted for the latter which worked out very well with absolutely no other costs (apart from service charge). We both asked for white wine, a delicious fresh accompaniment to our meal. Wholesome brown bread was brought with the most sumptuous, freshly made bright yellow butter.
Here is the set menu.
Terrine of Fois Gras, Green Mango & Aloe Vera Compote
Salad of Devonshire Crab, Pressed Leek, Liquorice, Conference Pear (Supplement £5.00)
Aged Parmesan Royale, Caramelised Nuts, Warm Veloute of Potato & Toasted Rice
Roasted Skate Wing, Grenobloise Brown Butter, Chipped Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts
Slow cooked Plantation Pork “Blanquette” Style, Glazed Chervil Roots, Chervil Leaf Puree
Blade of Harefordshire Beef Braised for 24 hours, Pickled Cucumber, Soba Noodles, Brown Shrimp Sauce (Supplement £10.00)
Melilot Pannacotta, Russet Apple, Cinnamon Shortbread
Dark Chocolate Tart, White Miso Ice-Cream, Goats Cheese
Selection of British & French Cheese, From Paxton & Whitfield and Bernard Antony (Supplement £8.00)
I’m afraid there are few of the options I can comment on as my guest and I both chose the ‘Aged Parmesan Royale’ and ‘Slow cooked Plantation Pork’. However I must tell you about the complementary ‘amuse bouches’ we received prior to our lunch. I had noticed eggshells being delivered around the room as we arrived but had assumed they were a starter choice on the menu. These delicately filled vessels were in fact just a little surprise treat to excite our mouths while waiting for the grand meal. Sat cutely in their eggcups these shells have their tops precisely chopped off, the contents removed and then the inside loaded with a strange but comforting warm mousse. We were told about the contents - a mixture with mushroom and coconut amongst other ingredients, and were told the chef wanted us to ‘dig deep’ to experience the full extent of the aromas. It was bizarre but certainly tantalised my taste buds ready for the meal ahead.
Our starter had a similar consistency with the waitress adding the sauce to the dish once she had brought it to the table. I couldn’t distinguish many of the listed flavours, instead it was just like a warming soup, rich and deep. The nuts sprinkled on the top were a delicious addition with a delightfully crunchy texture. The main course was the star dish, and definitely the best pork I have ever tasted. Soft and tender, cooked slowly to bring out all the flavours - it was faultless. The sauce was fragrant and creamy (I scraped every last drop off my plate), the additional creamed potatoes went down well too. Unfortunately pork isn’t the easiest food to plate up immaculately, but the presentation is the only thing I can criticise, as the dish was otherwise nothing short of perfection.
My dessert wasn’t quite as I’d hoped with russet apple puree on top of the pannacotta tasting too much like baby food. I didn’t mind much, the extra cinnamon shortbread was divine, and besides I was saving any remaining space for those final chocolate treats. My companion chose the alternative pudding: the darkest, smallest slice of chocolate tart arrived with a dollop of ice-cream and smudge of goats cheese. The miso ice-cream is an interesting concept though sadly not that pleasant in reality and after one minute taste he left the rest untouched. I tried it and my taste buds were equally revolted by the salty savoury flavour. After studying the main menu again I can see crazy ice-cream flavours are a bit of a theme: with Indonesian basil, puy lentil & wild lime and toasted oat featuring as accompaniments to various desserts.
Finally it was time for the little squares of heaven and coffee that arrived with raw salt crystals. The chocolates did not disappoint: dark chocolate truffle, smoked fudge, white chocolate and blood orange, milk chocolate and salted caramel, yum.
Hibiscus head chef Claude Bosi brings real personality to this restaurant, not playing safe but presenting food that is unique and unexpected. Though this might not suit comfort eaters, within his creations Bosi produces food that is not only an exquisite mix of flavours but will also challenge and entice your palate.
Book online here.