Peter Morrell has one of his best culinary experiences of the year at this well-established restaurant in historic Leadenhall Market
The quality of the food at Chamberlain’s was evident from the first taste. The amuse-bouche, a duo of an intense fish soup and a flavoursome anchovy pate with tomato set the benchmark for what was to come.
Chamberlain’s is part of the well-established fish preparation and wholesaler Chamberlain and Thelwell, and this business founded nearly 70 years ago is still family owned. With this heritage fish and seafood feature heavily on the menu, but dedicated carnivores are also well catered for.
We nibbled on delicious home-made white and cactus shaped brown bread, spreading it with a punchy, smoked cod’s roe as we considered the menu. There is the choice of a la carte, a prix fixe with multiple choices and a tasting menu. My wife and I chose the latter as it offered a showcase for both the meat and fish dishes on the menu.
The first course showed off the kitchen’s prowess in vegetarian cooking. A crispy puff pastry base, topped with roasted cep mushrooms and finished with a sherry vinegar dressing demonstrated just how much the chef understood about the subtle combination of taste and texture.
Having chosen the option to have matching wine with each course, the pairing with the mushrooms was the 2013 Saint Veran, Domaine de la Denante from Burgundy. Aromatic on the nose, the wine had a pleasant, flinty astringency and a buttery finish.
Next course was sauteed foie gras with pineapple chutney and spiced bread, a surprise on top was a foie gras semi-freddo. This mixing of hot and cold to bring out the rich tones from the liver was a clever innovation. Foie gras is traditionally served with a sweet wine, this was the 2010 Cave de Turckheim Gewurtztraminer from the Alsace. The wine showed rose petals on the nose which developed into a grapey palate with a lovely mouth feel and gave an intense finish.
It was time for some fish, a baked paupiette of lemon sole with a crab mousse and garnished with chanterelle mushrooms and baby carrots. This was well executed, offering delicate perfumed flavours from the fish and the crab with more earthy tastes from the mushrooms. An intriguing wine was paired with this, the 2012 Muller Thurgau Athesis made by Kettmeir in Alto Adige, Northern Italy, this is imported exclusively by Chamberlains. This wine had strong tones of white peach on the nose which morphed into soft green apple flavours on the palate, it was exceptional.
The meat course which followed was roasted Rose County fillet steak with charred banana shallots, a celeriac remoulade, anna potatoes and a truffled butter sauce. The steak was perfectly cooked, melting in the mouth, it would make the most discerning meat eater happy. Extra dimensions were provided with flavours of the celeriac and the truffle. The first red wine of the meal was the match, a 2012 Sangiovese Sarroregale from Italy. This was a complex wine with leather and dried figs on the nose, spice on the palate and a long, satisfying finish.
The final course was a crème caramel with marsala macerated baked figs. This rich and decadence pudding, which excelled, needed a wine that was its equal. The 2010 Passito di Pantelleria Cantine Rollo in Sicily made with Muscat grapes gave us a pleasurable mix of spice and musk.
This was a memorable meal and one of my best dining experiences of 2014. It had be thoughtfully put together and the wine matching was perfect. Praise must also go to the front of house team, they were all friendly and very knowledgeable about both the food and the wine.
After eating I spoke with the man behind the meal, executive chef Andrew Jones. With past positions at Claridges, the Mandarin Oriental and the Westbury his experience has been given full vent at Chamberlain’s. He is passionate about the quality of ingredients and insistent that his team learn all the basic skills of cooking, from baking bread to making pastry.
I chatted to him as he showed me round the restaurant, the basement, originally a meat store for the market, is now a rustic, vaulted space offering a brasserie style menu. The ground floor and mezzanine are more formal with white linen table clothes, the first floor, is similar to the ground but affords extensive views of the recently renovated ornate roof inside the historic market.
The City of London is now much more than a business district it is also a leisure destination. Its history is rooted in Roman times and there has been a market at Leadenhall since the 14th century, the current building with its beautiful architectural detail was designed by Sir Horace Jones in 1881.
To cater for the influx of visitors to the City, Chamberlain’s will be open for Sunday lunch from January 2015. Click here… for more details and to see a special offer we have arranged for you with Chamberlain’s.
23-25 Leadenhall Market
020 7648 8690