Once we knew we’d be in London town, the first thing to do was to decide on where to go for dinner. Whilst London is full to the brim of fabulous eateries, flashy bars and even a combination of both complete with burlesque fire-eaters, we only had 1 night to dine out, so we had to make it count.
Having long been a fan of Mr Gary Rhodes and his seasonal cooking approach, and especially his book ‘The Cookery Way’ which allows the budding home-chef to impress the pants off dinner guests without getting a migraine trying to follow the recipes, we felt it was time to pay homage and visit the very grown-up Rhodes W1 at the Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch.
We arrived in posh frocks for dinner at 7pm and were shown straight into the Patron bar for a quick pre-dinner cocktail. The service was slick and efficient, the cocktails were icy cold, strong and well-presented, with some interesting flavour combinations on offer including Cointreau and maple syrup, Sloe gin with apple and rosemary, and Chivas Regal with thyme and honey, amongst other delights.
Slurping the last of our drinks, we were led into the beige, carpeted restaurant adorned with chandeliers.
After being greeted by the impossibly polite and attentive waiting staff, we were presented with a delightful plate of salmon croque-monsiuer and croquettes, to nibble whilst we perused the menu. This was the first of many intriguing, welcome little extras that made the evening extra-special. Other surprises included small glasses of comsomme, as well as palate cleansing refreshers in between courses, not to mention 3 different types of butter to go with your 3 types of bread .
We finally managed to decide on our meals, and between us ordered for entree the salt-cured fois gras with peach, ginger parkin puree and spiced bread, the roast Scottish scallops with braised oxtail carpaccio and blood orange, and crisp pork belly with steamed langoustine, sweetcorn, beurre noisette and spiced popcorn.
Our mains included the blackened sirloin of beef, with watercress risotto, wild mushrooms, and peppered red wine jus, the tapenade glazed monkfish with lobster, aubergine puree, fennel and shellfish emulsion, and the slow-cooked fillet of seabass with king prawn tortellini, coconut and coriander.
You could have heard a pin drop whilst we ate, save for the appreciative murmurs as each mouthful was savoured.
I would have to rate this as one of my tastebuds’ most enjoyable outings to date, and I was in seventh heaven for pretty much our entire meal.
By dessert I delirious with happiness, and buoyed with champagne confidence, I foolishly ordered a magnificent chocolate extravaganza that blew my mind, and that I was devastatingly unable to finish. My dear old dad refers to that as ‘eyes bigger than your stomach’.