Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Star-Studded Meal!

Give that man a star! Maybe even two! We had the sheer pleasure of being fabulously fine wined and dined at Petrus. Marcus Wareing (he of custard tart for the Queen's 80th birthday fame) had suggested a seasonal prestige menu for six of us and even organised a bump friendly version for H. For a client entertainment to be declared a success you need a triumvirate of wins. You need people that you want to spend time with and who appreciate the event, you need good food (in our experience most client events go much better if sausages are featured in some way!) and finally and certainly not least the service needs to be exemplary or as the host(ess) you feel responsible. Fortunately for us all three conditions were not just met, but excelled - we had great entertaining dinner companions and we were enjoying it all so much that we were last to leave, sublime food (no sausages, though!) and seriously attentive and considerate service. What more can you wish for? Okay, apart from sausages!

Jean Philippe of Hell's Kitchen fame was the maitre D' and from the moment we arrived made sure that absolutely everything went like clockwork. I think I counted 15 pre courses, courses or post courses. This was a serious tasting menu. We started with little amuse bouches of tapenade or sundried tomato nibbles and salt cod infused with parsley sauce and mini croutes. We were given the tiniest puff pastry triangles of foie gras which was an exciting taster of the liver-y treats to follow. Next we were presented with a flourish a shot glass of warm leek and potato soup topped with a leek foam, this was so tasty to drink the soup through the foam and we hadn't actually started the menu yet! The first actual menu item was the Pan fried foie gras on pickled rhubarb and roasted hazelnuts. Apart from H who had pickled vegetables (I have to ask ‘who’d be pregnant with such deprivation for 9 months plus?’ This was seriously good, and accompanied by some very tasty breads. Then a stylish deep bowl of 3 Scottish scallops, spiced apple purée and walnut foam was proffered and again, this was so perfect! H had a summer truffle risotto whipped up by Marcus, not such deprivation maybe? Then it was the turn of the Roasted quail breast served on baby carrots à la grecque, apricot carpaccio and fresh almonds. This wasn’t the main this was the dish prior to the fish ‘course’. K was already longing for a warm bed but we can blame jet-lag for that and not the lack of enjoyment. I can’t recall the bump friendly version of the too pink quail; I was just in a haze of food heaven by now! For the fish ‘course’ we had a delicious and light Roasted sea trout with fresh pea purée with Scottish langoustine. And now it was the time of the main course – the choice was New season English lamb, Provençal vegetables with a thyme infused lamb jus or Poached and glazed Goosnargh duck breast with fennel, sliced cashew nuts and green olives. The other six had the lamb and I continued with my duck loving theme and plumped for the beautiful duck breast – just faultless again! Though just a merest tea spoon of mash would have meant that I could have judged and included Marcus in my mash potato hall of fame. Ah well, maybe we’ll have to return for the winter version of the tasting menu. Though personally I can have mash potato in ANY season! After the beautiful lamb and duck we had a few cheese tasting plates. The cheese trolley has wafted passed us on several occasions and we felt it would be rude not to partake! After the cheesy comestibles we had the first pre dessert of Chocolate and Coffee gateaux with espresso mousse – this was the only thing I declined as I found the coffee taste just too coffee for me! The next pre dessert was much more to my taste and was a Sauternes and honey jelly topped with yoghurt and then apple granita – a fabulous little palate cleanser. I’m sure that if we were in Normandy we would have had this 9 courses ago! The final menu item was Vanilla cream, ginger sorbet and glasshouse tuile. This was beautifully presented and polished off very quickly. This only left the stunning little Hand made chocolates (including my favourite of the caramel filled sphere) to consume. But this was the equivalent of the ‘wafer thin mint’ for most of us so we had them packaged up in little Petrus boxes to go.
I didn’t make a note of the wines we had but fortunately had some help (thank you, L!), I do recall a very fine Sauternes to accompany the foie gras, and the whites were an okay Sancerre and a nicer Montrachet but the Chilean Pinot Noir was my favourite and was really very fine indeed.
We had sublime food and a perfect table. A round table next to the glistening glass balls of the giant abacus decorating the restaurant. The service was just exceptional and we even got the tour of the kitchen but we had spent so long eating all the chefs were long gone and we just saw the pristine prep areas and pass. I think Marcus was already tucked up in bed by the time we left! I exposed myself as some crazy Gordon Ramsay restaurant groupie but managed to secure some interesting information about the New York ‘London’ opening in September. Maybe I will go to the ball, watch this space!
In summary, this was a true Michelin starred occasion. Though I think he’s only got one which seems very unfair and I must reiterate – give that man a star, or maybe two! (But not as many as Gordon as we know he’ll be jealous!)

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