I celebrated my turning a quarter of a century last week, and my birthday present from my boyfriend was a meal at the newly opened Restaurant 27. I was extremely excited, as I’d heard the chef from my favourite restaurant Bistro Montparnasse (now just Montparnasse), Kevin Bingham had ventured out on his own and opened this new resturant, and was aiming for a Michelin star.
Before we even got there, I was pleased to be asked if I had any special dietary requirements and if there was a special occasion on the table, and I was called on the day to confirm the details again. When we arrived our coats were taken and we were seated at “the bar” where Chris had a G&T and I had a limoncello. I didn’t realise it was a shot, not a long drink on this occasion and felt a bit out of place downing said shot whilst Chris slowly sipped his drink down. We were served canapes – I’m afraid I cannot remember the names of them, but I will describe them to you:
- A radish slice containing goat’s cheese
- A Malaysian(?) curry spiced roll
- A Caerphilly cheese croquette
All were divine and a great promise of things to come. We ordered our starters and as neither of us are particularly competent with choosing wine to go with our meals, we were given some great advice. There is a good range of wines in terms of price range and variety, and there is also a rare wines menu too for those whose noses and tastebuds are a little more attuned to the good stuff.
Once we were seated to our table, we had a little pre-starter of a shot glass of creamy almond and swede velouté with bombay potato served in a little espresso cup. It was the perfect amuse bouche and similar to the kind of taster we’d had in Bistro M (in there we had a pea and red pepper one which we tried to recreate without success). After that we were served a roll with seaweed and sesame topping and a sundried tomato ciabatta – I was served saffron butter with mine and Chris has seaweed butter with ours. This was dependent on our choice of starter – I ordered the king prawn and mussel chowder with potato and leek cake and Chris ordered butter roasted scallops served with brown shrimp sand and oyster foam. I was a little surprised to see that my chowder also contained salmon as it hadn’t been mentioned on the menu but it was delicious all the same. I don’t normally like fish (I tend to only eat prawns) and I’m a bit of fussy eater so didn’t fancy the other starter options, but the mussels were so soft and tender I completely changed my opinion on seafood. Chris’s starter reminded me of sandcastles on a beach when the sea had gently lapped over them and the shrimp sand added to the seaside feel. We later heard the people on the table next to us complaining that they though there was too much shrimp sand, but it was served on the side so you could have as little or as much as you want.
For main, I ordered the 30 hours cooked belly pork which was a 6 hour upgrade from the one at Bistro M and was delicious as expected although with all the canapes, pre-starters and starter I’d eaten was probably in terms of portion size a little large and rich for my tastebuds and I didn’t quite finish it all. Chris had black forest Gressingham duck which was complimented perfectly by the cherry and dark chocolate.
We also had a pre-dessert which was lemon (again sorry I can’t remember exactly what it was) and it cleared the palette perfectly and was gently fizzy on the tongue and left me feeling light and refreshed ready for pudding.
Pudding I can only describe as sheer delight – if you watched any of the Masterchef Best of British last year where one guy made a sweet shop on a plate, then you’ll know exactly what I mean. The desserts were beautifully presented – a wonder to the eyes and tasted as good. I had the apple crumble icecream cone served with madeleine cake and calvados jelly and Chris had the dark chocolate marquise with nougat, custard truffle and almond gel. I really enjoyed mine but didn’t feel the calvados jelly really went with the other textures of my meal (despite jelly and icrecream being a childhood favourite, it didn’t work with the crunchy tuille cone). The marquise was enjoyable and I loved the nougat particularly.
At the end of the meal I was given a little treat of chocolate cake in a box for my birthday which I haven’t broken into yet – it’s a nice gesture especially as I was so full from all the other delights I’d tasted that evening.
A word about the atmosphere – there’s only about 10 tables which is a good size and ensures it doesn’t get too roudy or noisy in there, but I felt that the ceilings were too high and created a slightly village hall feel about it. There was little to create a cosy atmosphere – there’s not too much to look at on the walls and there’s an picture of two children on the wall (I’m guessing the chef’s children) which seems out of character to the rest of the food related images. If Michelin took into account ambience (which apparently they don’t) they wouldn’t get the sought-after Michelin star. I was also slightly disappointed with the service – we were asked if we wanted dessert wine and then had to ask our waiter to take the dessert order after the first waiter wanted to take the order within 1 minute of being given the menu, and consequently disappeared after we said we needed a little more time.
Our meal came to £106 with two bar drinks, a bottle of wine and a glass of dessert wine between us which I thought was good. I’m still unsure if I would go back – I am a die-hard fan of Montparnasse and not sure whether the same environment has quite been recreated here. The food was surely fantastic though!