I thought I’d start with The Hibiscus in London, seeing as it’s fresh in my mind.
About 3 years ago, I trekked for 5 days through bogs, storms and pouring rain across Dartmoor. Although I am absolutely sure it is one of the most beautiful places in the country, I do believe that it rains approximately 364 days of the year. It would be great to visit Dartmoor on it’s one sunny day actually. For the couple of years surrounding this expedition and a few more “practice runs” My friends and I held a wine-tasting for people at my school to raise money for WOHAA, was in a school play in French, learnt to play squash, and learnt to cook as well as gaining my Leith’s basic certificate in Food and Wine. I also looked after children and organised activities for a week at my Prep school. Now I’m not bragging in any way, but all of that way quite hard work, and my reward? To achieve the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and a trip to St. James Palace to collect my certificate and meet HRH The Duke of Edinburgh himself! Now how cool is that?! So I got the Eurostar over to London to meet Mum where we rushed through Green Park to the hotel where I very quickly changed into something a little more suitable. I was super nervous actually.
That evening, Mum took me out to The Hibiscus – a 2 Michelin Starred restaurant owned by Claude Bosi. We were welcomed and taken to our table, where a funny looking squash awaited us. All of the tables had these rare squash/pumpkins of them. I wish I had a photo. We were given the menus and served an aperitif – A dry white wine with some pink cordial in it. Very nice. When we had booked the table, we warned them about the Gluten-Free thing, but just to be sure we told them again. The waiter was very helpful, and assured me that he would make sure that I could eat everything on the menu (there were about 6 items on there, so that was great as Mum and I decided to share everything).
He bought over some breaded cheesy and olive filled balls, which looked delicious and piping hot. I was given 2 silver spoons with… Well, I’m going to have to guess, but chopped prawn and papaya on them? And some other flavours which I really cannot place. (Next time I will have to write this stuff down!) They were quite extraordinary, and I had never tasted anything quite like it before.
Then we got some bread – including some toasted GF on a separate plate ( 3 or 4 slices actually, and good quality – It tasted like the normal stuff.) Then something quite off came along – A egg shell, with the top perfectly chopped off. Inside was a pretend egg, consisting off Smoked haddock, hollandaise and foam. Yum. I realise I am going into quite a lot of detail, oops.
For our starters we had a warm pumpkin veloute with blue cheese ice cream melting in the middle of it, with more foam on top and crunchy roast pumpkin seeds floating about. Mum had Devonshire crab with a pickled Granny Smith sorbet – very chilly but quite cleansing.
The mains were roast Cornish cod with glazed Paimpol beans, Red Williams Pear and Liquorice jus and braised veel cheeks, tarragon oil, chervil root, chesnut and crispy smoked eel. The veel cheeks was the most tender thing I have ever eaten, and tasted kind of like the cross between beef and duck. Kind of…
The waiter then came with two mini Melilot Panna Cottas with “Golden Delicious Apple Purree” on top. For our real pud we had a deconstructed sweet potato cheese cake (biscuity bits on only half of the pud so I could still eat I) and a Sharon fruit salad with Sharon fruit sorbet.
Ooo I also forgot to mention the wine – A Biodynamic Bourgogne Aligoté from France called ‘Love and Pif’, which was very slightly sparkling. Following this came coffee and tea – Mum had a double macciato, and I had some fresh mint tea in a beautiful glass tea pot (NB: Hold onto the lid when you pour as it will make a loud noise and it will be a tad embarrassing).
Accompanying our drinks were some home made slightly minty milk, white and dark chocolate Aeros. They melted in your mouth and were extremely delicious – best chocolate I’ve had in a long time. Mum also got some mini cardamom madeleines.
As you can imagine, we were pretty stuffed after that. The service couldn’t have been better, the restaurant was busy but not noisy, and the waiters and waitresses didn’t hover, though you knew they were there. They also had automatic sliding black glass doors to the kitchen and good hand cream in the Ladies. I would like to mention that I am a bit of a perfectionist, and love my food to be hot when it arrives, and it was – every time.
So no, I am not going to go easy on my first restaurant review, but it definitely deserves a good mark:
Service: 10/10 – Can’t complain, and after asking for ice and lemon in my water we were presented with perfectly square ice cubes and lemon slices.
Presentation: 8/10 – Not quite as awe- inspiring as Il Gallo d’Oro at The Cliff Bay in Madeira (another Michelin starred restaurant which I will blog about soon) but close. Strange that there are squashes on the table, but as least they’re doing something different. Butter was just stunning (it looked like mini decorated truffles and you could choose from Unsalted and Salted).
Food: 10/10 – Best meal I’ve had for a very long time.
Gluten-Free: 9/10 – Was presented with homemade French bread as we were leaving as a souvenir, although the waiter did realise once he gave it to me that that didn’t quite work. I gave mine to Mum.
Toilets: 9/10 – Only one, but you can stand and gaze in awe at the wine cellar.
They have an offer on at the moment by the way, so if you’re looking to treat yourself then this is the place to go. Great part of London too.