Heddon Street Kitchen, Mayfair
When I think of Gordon Ramsay, the image built up from Hell's Kitchen of an angry, red-faced Scotsman shouting profanities at a poor budding chef typically springs to mind. I can reveal to you though with great pleasure and relief that the brazen attitude often featured in these shows is not something they practise and preach in his restaurants.
Heddon Street Kitchen stands as the smouldering backdrop to the Regent Street Food Quarter and is probably one of the least pretentious establishments I have dined at. On this occasion, I was dining for the three-course set menu that includes a dessert cocktail. The cuisine at HSK is a fantastic mélange of some of our favourite cuisines with a strong focus on the best of British kitchen. Slow-roasted pork belly, Cornish lobster, braised lamb neck, whole grilled English plaice are just a fine number of some the fantastic British choices on the menu. Italian and even Asian influence doesn't stray far either and comforting classics like Baked spinach, ricotta and artichoke cannelloni and crispy prawn and avocado roll prove to be popular choices among guests.
After reading Jay Rayner's latest article for The Guardian titled 'The 12 things that restaurants must stop doing in 2016', I couldn't help but follow a type of mental checklist in tandem with his points. Number five states: 'why is the butter unsalted?' and 'What is it with taking the bread plate away at the end of the starters?'. The butter was beautifully salted here, the bread more like a toasted focaccia with a hint of cheese. The staff were highly attentive, friendly and helpful and were also very flexible with finding us a seat an hour earlier than our original booking time.
Both my guest and I started with the rillettes of Scottish salmon, avocado and watercress and we both agreed that this was delicious. The salmon was very light, fresh and the presentation of the creamy avocado around the bowl was playfully artistic. A perfect starter option in my opinion; not too heavy, rich or filling and stimulated my taste buds for the flavours to follow.
The slow braised British beef, parsley and garlic. The meat fell apart from itself, heavenly moist and soft. It carried a good amount of fat that helped to retain the flavour, however, I think this meat would have been a perfect match for a red wine jus, perhaps with some kind of carrot based accompaniment. The parsley and garlic accompaniment was good, intensely fresh and very garlic-infused, but I feel that the moistness of the beef could have done with a deeper, richer sauce as very moist beef with the soft but intense garlic and parsley pillow was a bit overwhelming.
Wood oven roasted trout and buttered leeks. My guest said that it was very nice but may not have been enough for someone with a bigger appetite. New cutlery was laid for each course and our bread and butter remained firmly on the table too but not topped up.
At this point in the meal, whilst we were shamelessly snapping away photos on our phones, the General Manager Mario Ilir Neziri came over and Mama Fab Foodie did not shy away from giving Mario her honest feedback on the caramel chocolate mousse. Somewhere in conversation though, the cat was let out of the bag about my food blog and all of a sudden, we're out of our seats and being given a tour of the restaurant by the Manager...
Mario began by introducing us to the excellent team of chefs at Heddon Street Kitchen. I met the very talented Head Chef Guy Betteridge (stood behind me) who was extremely warm and welcoming. I loved how the kitchen in the restaurant is open and on show for guests to admire. There's nothing more enticing in my opinion than watching the chefs prepare and cook what you're about to eat; every little detail appears effortless and highly artistic. It's so visual and inspiring to see the vibrant dynamics within a successful restaurant's kitchen. This team had a real synergy here and even from my seat I could feel the kitchen's buzz that comes from working under their strict time constraints and a drive to exceed customers' expectations.
As the beautiful stairs ascend towards the right, you can see a private dining room that guests can book for special occasions. On the left hand side of this cool, dark bar area is an Ice Cream Bar. This is a sleek, dark counter spotlight to showcase scrumptious toppings such as crushed oreos, brownies, hundreds and thousands, dried strawberries, meringues and biscuits which as you can imagine, represents a foodie wonderland for children who come for Sunday lunch with their families. Even at 22 years old, this was still a splendorous sight to my eyes and reminded me of the dessert rooms I would shamelessly massacre at Dubai's brunches. All their ice cream is made in house and I watched as Vanessa put together a dessert sharer of tarts topped with honeycomb and berries. The flavours of ice cream made here are salted caramel, marscarpone, vanilla, chocolate and mint and chocolate chip. It was some of the best I've tasted and the last time I had ice cream as luscious as this was in Palermo, in the north of Sicily.
Overall, I would highly recommend this restaurant for dates, family dinner, Sunday family lunch or for breakfast experienced in a more luxurious setting. The atmosphere and service is outstanding and the menu offers an excellent range of classics cooked to perfection. Mains are between £15 and £22 but the set menu at £22 is a steal. They have a Sunday Brunch menu available from 10am and Roasts are served from noon. Next time I visit Heddon Street Kitchen, I'd love to feed my love for breakfast dishes with their great breakfast menu and extraordinary 'Mad Hatter Tea Party's' Boozy shake! Thank you very much to Mario, Guy and the team there for being so hospitable.
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