Going to Cardiff, a stop-over in London was the obvious choice. Emil had wanted to see Big Ben for years and with Big Boy Oscar out of the house he had his parents all for himself for a few days.
Emil spend the afternoon jumping/running/jumping – and I was amazed he was still awake by 7 pm when we entered the beautiful garden of The Greenhouse. The Chef here – young Arnaud Bignon holds 1 michelin star, and I was curious how 1 star in London holds up against my esperiences at Simpsons and at Turners in Birmingham. I unerstood from the waiter that Arnaud comes from a two star establishment, and there was some hope and aim to achieve that at some point in this restaurant.
“A unique dining experience begins as you walk down a tree-lined pathway to reach The Greenhouse. London fades away and calm descends” – is how it is described on their own homepage, and actually that description is pretty accurate.
Prior to the visit I had informed the restaurant about bringing a kid and also informed about the gluten issue. So all set to go. Warmly greeted by the staff, and shown to our corner table, – already here consideration was shown, bringing a kid, a corner table is what you want.
The menu consists of 2 larger tasting menu´s and an a-la-carte menu, where you can put together 2-3 dishes as you like. I think the menu ranges from 65-110 GBP. The wine list is HUGE and well-sorted with a large selection of most important french regions as well as overseas and new world wines. We opted for a Meo-Camuzet, his entry level Hautes Cotes de Nuits white 2010. It was crispy and still very fresh and acidic.
Emil opted for Monkfish and we opted for 3 dishes a la carte.
Great tastes here, also a round for Emil who was less impressed than I – and with a gluten-free version for Astrid – we knew that we could sit down and relax knowing the kitchen were well prepared.
This little foam just about made it the freshest and purest amuse you could wish for – wauw – It was foam of lemon(grass?) covering oh my what – I forgot, but it was GREAT- 10p for the amuses.
Some slices of roasted gluten free toast was served to the missus, – my selection was of course much better, and especially the nut “cup-cakes” were GREAT. Loved the silver “basket”.
Mozzarella, Strawberry, Wild anise – Astrid loved two of the three and found the last one not quite up to the high level of the two others. The presentation spectacular, with the three glass bowls arriving as a tower. 8.5p
The fine crab meat covered with mint jelly, cauliflower, apple and a hint of curry. The best starter I have had this year. I tell you it was a dream. I never wanted it to end. 10p
Served with tandori, green asparagus, ginger and lemon. – the two scallops being very large, – I thought – no way the missus will finish this plate. She did. she loved the Tandori partnership with the scallops, but smaller scallops would have made her even happier 🙂 8.5p
My second starter – Panfried fois gras with tomato, raspberry and malabar pepper. The only dish today that really did not work. It was not bad, fois gras cooked perfectly, but the raspberry – which of course is a perfect match to the fois gras was too overpowering. In the end I finished the dish, but then I like raspberry. No, the dominant raspberry here left too little room for anything else. 6p
The fish arranged beautifully on top of a bed of Bomba rice – like a paella with chorizo flavours and all. 8p
You know me and lamb, and going to Wales the day after it was great to find a sample of their lamb on the menu. And great it was. Oh my. it came with a little side dish a couscous variation with chickpeas mint and spices.
This dish again was among the best I have had this year. Had the couscous been a bit more spicy it would have been among my best dishes of lamb ever. So great was the cooking of the lamb and the quality of the products used. 9.5p
No room for desserts, we were offered a round of sweets.
Great presentation, like a field of mushrooms in the garden….
At this point, or actually an hour before, busy London had taken its toll on Emil, who´s behaviour made some pretty proud parents this evening. And yes he finished his Monkfish, and you can say the Monkfish finished Emil.
I had high espectations for this one. The homepage has a great level, and everything has a sheer touch of quality to it. The service was outstanding, Pierre, Nick, Ben – I salute you all. It was the best service I have ever had in UK, and miles, well light-years away from what I had recently experienced in Birmingham. In Birmingham, I had the impression that they wanted to be professional, but were basically just very friendly and well not up to the par with the food. Here, in The Greenhouse, everything, from the moment you entered, all presentations, all details, the visit to the kitchen and the little chat with Arnaud and his sous-chef was just the finishing touches to a perfect evening. Here you have passionate waiters, as well as a management that know what they should know, and make you feel comfy without too much of a fuss. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking good care of us. Your restaurant comes with the highest of recommendations even if I found one dish was not up to par. At least I had the chance to tell the chef himself. And I did. I would not think twice about booking here again. I hope to be back one sweet day. Did I mention the crab/gelly starter I had. Boy oh boy. THAT was to die for. Finally, charging Emil´s amuses and main dish with 1 pound (!) on the total bill, does show another point of sheer class in my book.
My rating for this visit: Food 8.5p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), I shall add one happiness point for the outstanding service: Total Score 19.5p (20)