Friday, 26th April 2019 – Pied à Terre, Weston Hall Supper Club, Weston
Friday night was another of the Weston Hall supper club events, this time with the cooking provided by Pied à Terre, a London restaurant I still haven’t got to (though I did eat at its now-departed sister restaurant, the rather brilliant L’Autre Pied back in the day).
They have a reputation for high-end French classical cuisine, and have had at least one Michelin star for a very long time. The restaurant opened in 1991, operating under the guidance of David Moore who had at the time worked his way up front of house at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and they earned their first Michelin star in 1993, and a second in 1996. A recent change of chef was them retain one star, when many restaurants that change chefs see any stars disappear while the new hand at the tiller proves themselves. The list of alumni is pretty impressive, including Tom Aikens, and Shane Osborn and is now in the capable hands of Asimakis Chaniotis, who previously worked at L’Autre Pied. He had a treat in store for us this evening anyway.
First, however, we had to find our way to the place. It’s a bit of a bugger to locate (a fact they acknowledge in the instructions) and even in daylight I still managed to go the wrong way at the junction that leads to the gate you need to use to get in, rather than the disused main gate.
There was a suggestion that we’d start the with drinks in the Orangery and/or the Topiary Garden, but the weather had turned again and so we were back in the Drawing Room and Library, where, having arrived earlier than usual, Lynne and I managed to snag a seat on the massive sofa in the Drawing Room which was apparently given to Edith Sitwell by Noël Coward after he angered her by writing a satirical work about the eminently satirisable Sitwell clan. The aperitifs were, as usual, glasses of Frédéric Guilbaud Les Perles de Folie NV, and – for those who are happy to bite into a juniper berry, which I am not – various gin and tonic type things. The hosts were introduced and we moved through to our designated tables. The canapés were already on the table, and took the form of a very tiny, light and tasty tartlet and an egg.
The egg is served in a laser-cut shell and in addition to the lightly scrambled egg, some feta cheese, black olives and wild oregano. We were advised to dig down into the bottom of the shell to ensure we got all the tastes at once. It was very sound advice as it turned out. We weren’t sorry. It’s a very light but very cheesy morsel and one of those things that you’d snag extra of at a party if you got half a chance. well, I would anyway.
From here we moved to the starter of fish, in the shapes of a kingfish ceviche, which is apparently a species of mackerel, served with nage, lime, basil, deliciously smoked almonds, parsley, Greek bottarga, and some minus 8 caviar, which is not really caviar at all and which is made from Minus 8 vinegar. It’s all very clever, and all very good. With the fish we drank a Raymond Morin Sauvignon Blanc 2017, from the Loire Valley,a light anf fruity example that worked well with both this and the following course.
We stayed with fish for the second course, which was a soft poached roll of salmon, done in a sous vide machine as far as I could tell, which came with a crunchy spear of green asparagus, the whole sitting on top of a spectacularly green velouté of lemon verbena, dotted with lobster oil. The salmon was meltingly soft and the accompaniments were near perfect. It was all going very well and this time we were sitting with a lovely group of people, all with plenty of conversation, and none of them obnoxious, unlike the man we’d been stuck with the previous time.
The main was fabulous, a couple of perfectly done best end of lamb, with a courgette and mint puree, along with a pomme puree and shiny rosemary jus that went very well indeed with the meat and the vegetables. I loved how tender the meat was and the vegetables were spring-like which is more than the weather was. It really was a case of what’s not to like given what was on the plate. What was in the glass was pretty good too, an Eekhoring Rooi 2018, relatively light blend of Cinsaut, Syrah and Pinotage, that was decidedly moreish.
We finished off with a very well-behaved matcha green tea custard, with blood orange foam, toasted oats, and geranium ice cream. The ice cream was rather too mild I thought, but the blood orange foam packed a bitter punch, and the toasted oats and matcha custard were a good combination.
Next up is an evening in the hands of Aldo Zilli, but as these events are now being taken over by The Telegraph, a newspaper with which I have absolutely nothing in common, and severe ideological disagreements, and the price has consequently gone up by £15 per person for anyone who is not a Telegraph subscriber at a minimum of £2 a week (we were given a discount code for this one), that may end up being the final Weston Supper Club for us, which would be a shame, but I’m not putting money in their pocket.