Peter Morrell enjoys the food, the service and the atmosphere at this iconic Michelin starred restaurant
In London restaurants come and, as fashions change, restaurants go. To be truly enduring and popular the establishment must offer the basic elements of classic dishes with modern twists, attentive service and comfortable and relaxed surroundings. If the proof of the pudding is in the eating then the well established Pied à Terre in London’s Charlotte Street fits the bill perfectly
Started by David Moore 27 years ago in 1991 Pied à Terre won its first Michelin star thirteen months after opening and has retained the accolade ever since.
My wife and I recently dined at the restaurant. First impressions were good, the staff are all very friendly and we were soon settled in. We chose the slightly busier room at the rear to dine in. The décor is intimate and quietly sophisticated and the smart fellow diners gave the restaurant an upbeat atmosphere.
As we perused the menu we sipped a glass of cava and savoured three delicate amuse-bouches, the most notable being scrambled egg with feta in the shell. These were accompanied by three delicious home made breads – granary, Marmite bread (we both loved it) and a buttery brioche.
The are a number of menu options, a la carte and tasting menus for carnivores and vegetarian, a vegan menu and a special menu where you let the chef decide. We chose the standard a la carte which offered a starter and a main course for £65.
The menu is short but every dish looked attractive and there were vegetarian options. Scallops and quail were our final selection as starters.
My wife and I shared both dishes, the Scottish scallops were served as a ceviche with Minus 8 vinegar from Canada, kale, crispy quinoa and kohlrabi. The freshness of the seafood shone through and we both enjoyed the kale balls with quinoa.
The quail was presented under a dome of sweet smelling wood smoke, it’s Pied à Terre’s signature starter. It was served medium rare, very tender and packed with flavour. It was partnered with celeriac,autumn truffle, hazelnut and confit egg yolk.
Both of these starters had an elegance about them with a clever combination of tastes and texture.
We did manage to sneak in an entree course, pickled sardines with cucumber, a fresh and satisfying pairing with lots of natural flavours was the first. The second was chalk stream trout raviolo with king oyster, ceps and horseradish vin jaune, We shared both and liked the inventive mix of interesting ingredients.
For mains we had selected halibut poached at 53° and the 120 days old St Brides chicken. The fish, was light with subtle flavours. It was served with spinach, scottish langoustine, a blanquette of langoustine and belper knolle, an unpasteurised Swiss cow’s cheese. This was an outstanding dish with very precise tastes.
The chicken had equal merit, it was flavourful and complemented with Roscoff onion, liquorice, pommes soufflées, grilled leeks and autumn truffle jus. The final ingredient adding a seasonal depth to the dish.
There is a very good wine list that will suit every pocket and a number are served my the glass. As we had ordered such a wide array of dishes featuring both meat and fish we asked the sommelier for guidance.
Establishing that aromatic whites like viognier and sauvignon blanc were our preference he recommended a wine I would have missed. It was Hungarian and produced by Frittmann, made with the aromatic cserszegi fűszeres grape. It paired well with the food. The bouquet had strong aromas of white peach, pears and apple. These were joined on the palate by fragrant floral flavours, the acidity was well balanced which particularly suited the fish and the finish was bright and lively.
At this point in the meal we were full but the desserts all looked very tempting. There were indulgent stand-outs like rhum baba with Diplomatico reserva dark rum, guanaja chocolate indulgence with duce de leche and spiced red wine apples with banana cinnamon cake. If your tastes are more savoury then there was a good cheeseboard with a range of fortified wines including ports and madeiras.
After the meal I spoke with energetic executive chef Asimakis Chaniotis who about a year ago confidently picked up the baton of the many well respected chefs who have gone before him. Asimakis has brought his own style and flair to the food which we enjoyed so much. He holds the distinctions of being the first Greek chef to be given a Michelin star outside Greece and the youngest holder of the award in London.
We enjoyed the entire dining experience at Pied à Terre and there was a great sense of occasion about the meal. The innovative food, the friendly and attentive service and the sophisticated surroundings all added up to a unique dining experience. Here’s to the next 27 years,
A final point, Pied à Terre has consistently been cited as offering the best value lunch at a Michelin starred restaurant in London. So if you are in town for the day this would be the ideal spot to relax between shopping sessions.
Pied à Terre
34 Charlotte St
London W1T 2NH
020 7636 1178