Sunday, December 23, 2007

Boxwood Cafe, London

The Berkeley
Wilton Place

My nephew is a bit of a Gordon Ramsay fan, so I decided that I would take him to the Boxwood Cafe for his sixteenth birthday. We made our way to Hyde Park Corner and thence to the Berkley Hotel, home of the Boxwood Café. This was my nephew's first visit to London and he was quite overwhelmed by the crowds, the tube and general noise of the big smoke. He's also not that adventurous with food (although better than he used to be) which is why I chose Boxwood as the least imtimidating of the Ramsay stable to introduce him to fine cuisine.

After our coats were taken we were shown downstairs to our table, walking past Stuart Gillies who was sat in the mezzanine area chatting to a couple of punters. Downstairs, the restaurant "proper" has quite a relaxed and, although I can't say informal - it's certainly not formal or stuffy, atmosphere.

We were given three menus each (3 course set menu for £25 a head, Taster (of which they do a veggie version too) at £55 per head and the a la carte) We decided to go a la carte.

For starters I chose a beetroot, pear and feta cheese salad. Very nice indeed. There were a couple of different kinds of beet and tucked in amongst the various layers were some slithers of shallott that gave the dish some nice pockets of different flavours. My nephew had a pea and leek tart of which I tried a small piece and have to say it was extremely nice - very light and creamy. He loved it.

For main course I had Ravioli of Italian winter squash with caramelized hazelnuts, parmesan, goat’s curd and soft herbs, and my nephew had Roasted loin of suckling pig with garlic roasted potatoes and grain mustard sauce.

The ravioli was delicate and perfectly cooked. The sauce was very similar to my saffron sauce (although a bit more watery…) and the pumpkin was sweet without being too sweet.

My nephew proclaimed his pork to be superb and he ate every bit, except for a small strip of crackling. As is my wont these days, I asked the sommellier to match a glass of wine to each meal. My nephew had a claret and I had an oaked chardonnay. The chardonnay went very well with the pasta, and my nephew said that the dry fruitiness of the claret cut nicely through the fattiness of the pork… (or was that the sommellier?) Anyway, he drank it all.

And so, to dessert. I had mentioned the reason for the visit when confirming the booking, and we were both delighted when his dessert (a chocolate fondue with marshmallows, biscotti and fruit) turned up with a candle in one of the marshmallows and "Happy Birthday" written in chocolate around the plate. Apparently it tasted pretty good too, as another empty plate would testify.

Myself, I plumped for banana sticky toffee pudding, which was quite simply the best sticky toffee pudding I've had. A coffee and bill later (£110 including tip) we left full and very happy.

I'm keen to try the veggie taster menu, so I'll be back there sometime in the New Year to give it a try.

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