Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The gorgeousness of Gary's food

I haven’t had the pleasure of Rhodes24 for a while and I wondering how it would fare against the opulence and sublime food of Rhodes W1. It certainly seems worlds apart from W1, there are no Swarovski chandeliers glittering over our table, the walls aren’t shimmering with eau de nil mother of pearl instead we have wall-to-wall navy pinstripes and pink shirts. Our view is the “erotic gherkin” and the streets below but today swathed in mist as the rain clouds have descended upon us.

There’s no tasty little amuse bouche at 24, which I’ve always lamented about though now I know that W1 more than compensates for this omission I can forgive them. We peruse the menu and as usual it’s a tricky choice, there doesn’t seem to be an option to have the entire menu reduced to tasting portion size and delivered to us so a decision has to be made. Inexplicably I am drawn to the garlic cream potatoes that come with the rack of lamb, mutton with summer vegetable casserole. But this dish is for two and as happy as K is to share it with me I am slightly concerned by the summer vegetable casserole, it could be some horrible ratatouille complete with the dreaded tomatoes or maybe not, but we never did find out. But we do discover that we can order Gary’s famous mash potato on the side so the pressure is off. A-A has been convinced of the stupendous-ness of the Gary mash already and goes for the sculptural seared scallops, shallot mustard sauce and mash potato for a starter. I’ve enjoyed this classic before and try and explain that the conical tower of mash potato is reminiscence of a little anaemic Clanger (the pink whistling creatures that inhabit the moon with the soup dragon!) and am met with very blank looks. I guess the Clangers didn’t really make to in either Australia or France. Clearly they both had deprived childhoods!

K is feeling the need for a healthy starter today and opts for the very Popeye friendly verdant spinach soup with warm garlic toasts.

I am attracted to the rich, unctuous glazed lobster omelette thermidor. Though it is a close call as I dither between the scallops, the lobster or the warm smoked egg with poached egg hollandaise and slow roasted pork belly or the smoked haddock and baby leek fish pie instead. I adore the glazed lobster omelette thermidor, it’s cheesy, lobster-y and delicious.

For our main course both K and A-A select the poached organic chicken with creamy broad beans and wild mushrooms. A-A had originally opted for roasted veal sweetbreads with morel mushrooms and mash potato before realising that it was sweetbreads. Unfortunately even though it looked very pretty they both thought the chicken was a little bland, the vegetables fared better but they said they could have made this at home. Okay that’s a fair point but you could probably say that for all the dishes, if you really had the skill and plenty of time. But the chicken is possibly one of the least complex dishes on the menu and it's such a shame they were a little disappointed.

At least they enjoyed the silky smooth talents in the mash department!

I am, however, delighted with my choice of the roast beef fillet with red wine onions, oxtail hash, and poached egg Béarnaise. Perhaps I could recreate this myself by I’d much rather Gary or his minions conjure this up for me.

This is a transcendent piece of cooking, ever time I’ve encountered Gary’s mastery with eggs (single ravioli containing a perfect poached egg yolk on my first visit to City Rhodes or the awe-inspiring soft boiled egg baked in the finest of breadcrumbs at Rhodes W1) I have been stopped in my tracks with such brilliance. The poached egg released its golden elixir which mingled with the béarnaise then flowed over the oxtail hash and into the rare beef juices. Just truly gorgeous! Gary has done it again! And of the course, the mash is perfection also.

We all are in a bit of a hurry but a few phone calls are made, K unfortunately has to rush off to another commitment but A-A have a small stay of execution so we decided we can squeeze in a spot of dessert. And especially as A-A seemed a little désolé after her chicken and I am keen that they redeen themselves so we see what they on offer. A-A fancies the warm chocolate pudding, with chocolate sauce and lemon sorbet but that requires a 15 minute wait which we can't afford so we have to move to plan b. I am devastated to see that the infamous Jaffa cake puddings have departed from the menu and ask what the Rhodes 24 signature pudding plate would offer us instead. And to my delight I hear bread and butter pudding, crème brûlée and fabulously a Jaffa cake pudding. Well actually I only hear Jaffa Cake Pudding so that clinches it! We are under strict instructions to eat the dessert plate in the designated order – bread and butter pudding, Jaffa cake pudding and then the crème brûlée as a finale. Gary Rhodes’ bread and butter is legendary, it’s his signature dish but when the chocolate mists descends on me I cannot see anything else apart from chocolate and on previous visits the Jaffa pudding had generally lured me in. But I have been denying myself a real pleasure as this bread and butter pudding is blissful. Obviously it originated as a frugal dish to use up yesterday’s stale bread and some milky custard. But this is totally another class, the touch of orange, the melt in the mouth texture, the rich, rich custard, this is a dessert dreams are made of. We both eat in a stunned silence! Then the Jaffa cake pudding, as fabulous as ever and frankly a more manageable size. We just manage to eat some of the crème brûlée , which was soft and lovely but totally eclipsed by the other two stunners.

And then there are the petites fours. Oh my, there isn’t the merest gap to squeeze in the insy winsy lemon meringue pie and teeny weeny chocolate muffin. I know the policy here about letting their food leave the premises in the hands of a careless diner who could leave it languishing somewhere and then eat it past its best and possibly make themselves ill. I am willing to take the risk and if I manage to sneak these out I will be relieved of them the moment I set foot in the office and I am positive no one will suffer in the process. But how will I get them out intact? Fortunately I am persuasive enough to procure a piece of foil and ‘if on my head be it’ and ‘if I am discrete’ I can smuggle them out. A few minutes later after fashioning a bizarre foil tent-shaped handbag the petites fours are nestled on the top on my bag, though frankly I don’t really think ‘discretion’ is really the word!

And surely enough on arrival back to the office these dinky little treats are wolfed down very quickly and were most appreciated by the eager recipients (including K who had a delayed dessert in the shape of a dinky chocolate muffin.)

Gary has done it again, apart from A-A and K's chicken (which fortunately I didn't choose) it was all momentous. I was supposed to have been going out again to eat tonight but I cowardly backed out (sorry E, but Marcus will do us proud next month I promise!) and it's a good job I didn't, I really couldn't eat a whiff of a waffer (sic) thin mint after all this delectableness. Gary, where are all your deserved stars?

No comments: