Like anyone with an inch of knowledge of the London restaurant scene and a dose of self respect, I’ve been wanting to go to Medlar since it opened. Unfortunately I’ve also wanted to go to a lot of other places which is why it took me almost two years to get there. But go I finally did, full of the kind of expectations only reserved for restaurants that have received five-stars across the key critics (even old grumpy face Gill couldn’t fault it).
I liked the simple room with the odd wisp of green, particularly the back area with curved booth fit for 8 (I’ve never hidden my fondness for a banquette). Having tried and failed to book in for lunch, I’d settled for a 6.30pm reservation which meant we arrived to an empty restaurant. This, coupled with the fact that there is no music, meant the first 30 minutes were spent trying to have a normal conversation in stage whisper voices. But once the rest of Chelsea arrived for their Sunday night supper the evening picked up nicely.
Service was great from the off, the waiters and sommelier treading the fine line perfectly between nice and oppressive; and clearly knowing their stuff without being up their own arses. All helped along enormously by the freshly-baked bread and perfect pale butter the waitress kept offering us (my personal form of kryptonite).
Reading Medlar’s menu was tough on my nerves, each dish made up of such brilliant sounding parts that choosing between them became a kind of sweet torture. Eventually in fear of giving myself a headache, I went totally against my instincts and chose the Calf’s brain with smoked duck breast, aioli, confit pink fir potatoes and tardivo followed by the Cornish gurnard with palourde clams, baby squid, fennel, salted almonds, gremolata and tapenade.
Much to my irritation, my companion ordered exactly what I would have, had I not panicked and tried to be ‘wacky’. Thinly sliced confit lamb with salsa verde, artichokes, green beans and frisée followed by Fillet and cheek of middle white pork with boudin noir, chestnuts, sprouts, sage and squash.
Its not that I didn’t enjoy my starter or that I couldn’t see that it had been painstakingly constructed so that deep fried nuggets of brain bounced off the tangy aiolo and peppery tardivo. I just didn’t love it. Same with the main which needed more seasoning and though it read like a dish of well-conceived elements all of which should have amassed to huge amounts of texture and flavour on the plate, they blurred rather than blended.
If we had stopped there, I’m almost certain I would never have been bothered to go back to Medlar despite it being my own stupid fault for ordering wrong. Thank god then that they not only serve the only dessert I’d save in a fire, but a version better than shagging off your tits on ecstasy. Coupled with pudding wine (is there any better way to add decadence to an already decadent meal btw?) Medlar’s Tarte tatin with crème fraîche ice cream is so good it has the magic to erase bad menu choices.
As the former Governor of California once said, I’ll be back.
438 Kings Road