Hibiscus, London 2
April 10, 2008
Linda and I had lunch at Hibiscus on April 8, 2008. We had heard very good reports about the quality of the cuisine and ambience. The welcome was warm, but the restaurant wasn’t even half full at our 1:00 arrival.
We were even more surprised when people kept arriving well after 2:00 and the restaurant eventually filled up.
We ordered aperitifs and contemplated the menu. There was a luncheon menu at £25 with two choices in each of three courses. Or for £60 one could have three courses chosen from the à la carte menu. For £70 there was a six course surprise menu. Despite our desire to test the kitchen and our plan to skip dinner before the theater that evening, we settled for the luncheon menu as it looked good and paying $150 for the right for the two of us to chose à la carte seemed a bit much. We ordered a bottle of the 2000 Corilhac Saint Joseph. At £37 it was one of the least expensive wines on the extensive multinational list. The sommelier complimented us on our choice and put it in a decanter without our having to ask. It was delicious. Slices of light brown bread were put on the table with a square of butter that was so rich and flavorful it was almost cheese.
The amuse-gueule was a poached egg served in its shell with a light licorice flavor.
Linda started with the Terrine of Rabbit and Foie Gras, Baby Gem and Pickled Carrot Salad, Cous-cous of Romanesco Cauliflower. She found the rabbit to be very tender and flavourful.
I started with the Tartare of Organic Scottish Salmon, Lime and Ginger, Velouté of New Season Peas. The pea velouté had a strong flavor of fresh peas, but it overwhelmed the salmon, which was very subtle.
For our main course we both had the Suffolk Guinea Fowl stuffed with Mushroom & Douglas Fir, Spring Vegetables with Lemongrass and Chervil. The guinea fowl was very nice with the tender stuffed breast meat contrasting nicely with the crispy skin and dark meat. The green spring vegetables were superb. Alongside we were served a little cast iron pot which the waiter described as “chervil mash.”
For dessert Linda had the Italian Shortbread with Gariguette Strawberries, Hibiscus Flower Syrup, Curd Cheese Ice Cream. She found the strawberries to be unripe and tart.
My dessert was Jerusalem Artichoke & Milk Chocolate Parfait, Vanilla Sorbet, Caramel Cream. It was excellent.
I was surprised how British it all seemed as the chef is French, trained at top restaurants in France, and the restaurant’s name is tropical. Of course, British seeming things can be wonderful: the spring vegetables for example, but other items such as pickled carrot salad, bland salmon or chervil mash seem retrograde. Our meal was fine, but not close to the level of the hype this restaurant gets from some reviewers. Of course, the luncheon menu is not a big test, but we spend our evenings in London at the theatre, opera or with friends.
To see Gary and Varian’s more entusiastic blogpost on Hibiscus from last November click here.