Thursday, October 25, 2007

A test for the Blueprint Café

Anyone who’s ever read my blog knows that I am a huge fan of Blueprint Café and Jeremy Lee. I love the seasonality and simplicity of the cooking. Each dish is always bursting with flavour from quality ingredients that have been elegantly assembled. I trust the Blueprint Café to entertain clients, to celebrate special events and most importantly to always feed us wonderfully. One particular client had reservations about the Blueprint, it wasn’t base on a previous experience but a belief that nothing good can come out of a kitchen in a restaurant owned by a man whose family made their fortune importing rubber. Well it is true, Terence Conran who once had Blueprint Café in his vast restaurant empire (now he has handed over the day to day running to D&D who took over most of the ex-Conran restaurants in a management buyout) and yes, his father did indeed import rubber but I’m pretty sure this didn’t permeate into the restaurant kitchens. Jeremy’s cooking had never conjured up images of burning rubber to me and I was hoping that I could demonstrate this to C eventually. Well this day had come and I climbed the steps to Blueprint Café with a degree of trepidation as this was a test for a place that I am very fond of and I desperately hope they won’t let me down.

There are five of us today and we’re all waiting with eager anticipation what delights our lunch will bring. H asked me what salsify and Parmesan was and I explained it was a particular favourite of mine here. They are wrapped in the thinnest of filo pastry jackets showered with gratings of Parmesan and baked. They are soft, savoury and a real revelation. I had my first salsify here, enjoyed the same treatment with asparagus in their short season and always enjoy them on every occasion. My glowing report seems to do the trick and H and K (plus bump) order a plate as a starter.

C and I both opt for the cauliflower and salsify soup and American J a salad. The cauliflower and salsify soup may not have set the world alight with its looks, though pale and interesting but had such a creamy, sublime flavour it was a true delight – yes, Jeremy has done it again! H and K really enjoy their salsify which is their first experience of this intriguing vegetable root which is a distant cousin to the sunflower. C was attracted to the salsify but I mistakenly likened it to asparagus, which I shouldn’t have done as salsify is so much softer, some say like an oyster. I’m not sure if either comparison is right but thanks to the Blueprint Café, I now know that I adore salsify.

There were eight choices for the main course and it was a tricky choice. I would have happily devoured Plaice, leek & mussel broth, Onglet, watercress, mustard & horseradish, Grilled leg of black faced lamb, lentils & green sauce, Lemon sole, lemon & parsley butter, Sea bass & clam Chowder or the Roast partridge, potato cake & pickled damsons or even the Baked Middle White pork, mustard & parsley crust. I was tempted by the plaice, leek mussel broth or even the sea bass and clam chowder but then my entire meal might have been a little soupy. And I am not ready for an all liquid diet yet. Knowing Jeremy’s love of a fine and feisty mustard I thought I’d order the Middle White pork with mustard and parsley crust. K joined me in this, as we’d discovered recently that her bump seems to have gone off fish, well certainly fish that has been fried. We're not sure how it feels about lamb or mustard.

The rest of the table all go for the Lemon sole, lemon & parsley sauce. And it does look an excellent choice; the fish is spanking fresh and just glistening and unadorned. Our pork is extremely tasty also, so tender and melting. I am not too crazy about the beans however, but we have some tenderstem broccoli, new potatoes and spinach so I can leave the beans to one side and tuck into those instead.

Well I think the Blueprint Café passed its test today, the plates were pretty clean apart from K’s lamb at it turned our that her bump wasn’t too fond of the rich punchy mustardy topping served with the lamb. But then K’s bump seems to prefer chips (of the French fries variety), custard tarts and doughnuts rather than anything else. Today we don't have time for dessert but we're pretty full anyway so it's not a major sacrifice though the lemon posset, the vanilla & apple shortcake and the St Emilion au chocolat could be heard calling from the kitchen. But maybe next time!

Jeremy wasn't in the kitchen today as he was in Paris celebrating his birthday, but his kitchen exceeded itself as usual.

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