Since the rice pudding dessert option doesn’t appeal much to either of us, we chose the farmhouse cheese selection to end our meal. Cheese instead of pudding is actually a wise decision because there’s a selection of pretty petit four to end the meal on a sweet note. We could linger forever in the elegant and comfortable little nook of a table chatting endlessly over our glasses of wine. It is clearly evident why Pied à Terre has survived the ups and downs of the London restaurant scene for quarter of a century and I hope to return to try the Tasting Menu sometime soon.
As I walk through the front door of Pied à Terre’s modest entrance, I am overcome with deja vu. I have definitely been here before… yet I haven’t dined here before. It takes me a little while to realise that I have indeed visited Pied à Terre in the past – about 10 years ago to photograph chef Shane Osborn for a magazine I was Art Director of back in the day. Pied à Terre has been around for some 25 years – pretty impressive in itself – and it holds several restaurant accolades including a Michelin star, first won in 1993.
I am here on Bookatable’s star deal – 5 courses plus a cocktail for £43 per person – and I have a star companion in fellow food blogger, and kindred spirit, Julia. It’s not often we can enjoy an outing just the two of us and we are just a little bit giddy with excitement. Pied à Terre is quite small and narrow and we are seated in a small room at the front of the restaurant. Since the room is quite separate from the restaurant proper it feels very intimate – but also a little cut off from the buzz of the main seating area. Thankfully, a welcoming Bellini and delicious canapés get the evening started on just the right (bubbly) note. We are also offered a selection of freshly baked bread – they say you can judge the quality of a restaurant by the bread they offer and the still-warm slices on offer are simply exemplary. The service is equally top-notch – friendly but unobtrusive staff which offer helpful suggestions without ever hovering, a pet hate of mine.
The star deal menu offers only two choices per course which feels a little limited, especially when it comes to dessert where the choice is coconut rice pudding or a selection of farmhouse cheeses. Both Julia and I opt for a starter of crispy mussels with curry, white beans, tomato anchovy. The dish (pictured at the top of the post) is beautifully plated and offers just the right combination of varied textures – ultimately this high-end starter reminds me of fried oysters served in a paper cup on a long-ago trip to Coney Island – hardly Michelin-starred material. But the association is a very pleasant one – it’s funny how food triggers memories.
I opt for Cornish cod with miso butter, black quinoa and cauliflower rice for my the main course while Julia chooses the deer which comes encrusted in black curry powder and served with a mini side dish of fregola sarda, as well as beetroot and red chicory. We also each choose a glass of wine – red and white – with the help of the very helpful sommelier – as the wine list comes in a two massive volumes presented in a slip case, his suggestions are much appreciated. We both enjoy our main courses – the food is cooked with a kind of effortless perfection – but I don’t feel like I am tasting anything particularly extraordinary. Having looked at the menus on Pied à Terre’s website I can see the selection is usually pretty vast – so we are perhaps hemmed in slightly by the particular star deal.
We dined as guests of Bookatable but independently of the restaurant. All opinions are my own.