Pre-Theatre at Pied a Terre, London

This was an stressful meal. We had just rushed from a massive shopping spree at Zara london to make our 6pm reservation, and needed to get out of there in an hour to make Les Miserables at 7:30pm. Being uptight and paranoid as usual, the whole time I was looking at my watch, looking at the waiter, looking at my watch, “when is the next course coming out?”, remind the waiter about the fact that we had tickets to a show like 5 times. Despite that, it was a really lovely experience.

“Pied-à-terre” is a French expression for a small living unit in a large city, and this is the humble setting  for this restaurant. A small facade on a London side-street, neighboured by pubs and apartments. We were in the first dinner sitting, so when we got there the place was completely empty. We walked in and were offered a choice between the private area in the front and the main dining area in the back. We chose the front, because who can resist…

comfy lounge seats!!! With cushions too. And where we were sitting, the couch went around the corner so we BOTH got to sit on the cushy seat. Genius. The cure to that awkward moment when you go eating with someone, and there’s a comfy couch seat and a plastic seat, and you know you both want the couch seat, and you want to be polite and let your partner take the comfy seat, but you also REALLY don’t want to sit in the hard plastic seat. I usually just go for the couch without hesitation to avoid such situations.

Really beautiful, vibrant dinnerware. A nice change from the neutral, uber-modern stuff you usually see when fine dining. The staff were really eager and attentive – especially our waiter who was exclusively ours for the first half of the meal. He just stood in the corner, waiting to see if we needed anything. Kind of creepy actually. We told him that we had just come from Paris, and it made him really nervous because the food had to live up to all the wonderful things we ate there! The maitre d’ was really cute too – when I told him I wanted lemonade (after lunch, I had drunk enough wine for… a lifetime) he got really excited about the fact that they had an organic lemonade. And then he came back in the middle of the meal to ask if I liked it, and when I said I did, he was super chuffed.

Orchid centrepiece

OH man I wish I took a photo of the bread basket!! It was epic – this is just a selection. Check out the sage and onion brioche!!! Sure beats a dinner roll!

Picked mackerel amuse bouche. Tiny taste explosion.

Canapes! Salmon boudin and mushroom… fritter? I wrote something down in my notes but can’t decipher it. Basically a mushroom mix, battered and deep fried.

Raviolo of confit rabbit, baby leeks, morels mushrooms, hazelnut dressing and parsley cress.

This is one of the dishes I can actually recall the taste of… it was small and simple but just SO delicious. Really thin pasta, beautiful balance of meat and veg in the filling, salty and rich broth/sauce. Like the perfect dumpling.

Poached cornish skate with salsa verde, cherry tomatoes, anchovy beignets and wild rocket.

When we saw this menu, we weren’t sure what “skate” was so we asked our waiter, and he was so cute, he stood there for about 5 minutes trying to explain it to us in his broken english (I think he was scandinavian) and when we were still clearly confused, he scrambled to find a pen and paper to draw it out for us. Only after dictionary did we figure out that skate is a sting-ray like fish. Gotta appreciate the effort!!

A fish fork! Not sure how the design actually aids fish-eating though.

Matt’s pan fried bass with cucumber, white asparagus, borage and pernod veloute, oyster beignets.

My roasted tenderloin of pork with smoked bacon fondue, wye valley asparagus, truffle and parmesan gnocchi. 

The food here reminded me of Australian fine dining, which may be the influence of former Aussie owner and chef Shane Osborn. It’s simple, unpretentious and just lets the ingredients shine. I like how the menu descriptions were so detailed, and you could actually see each element on the plate. Flavours weren’t particularly ground breaking … but maybe we only felt that because our palates were tired from  lunch. Lesson: back to back fine dining sounds awesome, but in reality, isn’t the best idea. Your stomaches and taste buds can only take so much.

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