Something I learned a long time ago as a key to being successful is to under promise and over deliver. Apparently Chef Lee Westcott also learned this lesson some where along the way!
Last year on a trip to London, my husband and I dined at the Typing Room where Chef Westcott is at the helm. The reason for our trip was for our son to do some football training (soccer for us North Americans), so fancy dinners were not really on our agenda. However, when you find out one of Britain’s hottest young chefs is working his magic in your hotel you order the boy a pizza and head downstairs!
The menu is a simple list of the components of each dish. This is where the under promising comes in. The list does not represent the magic in how these ingredients are prepared and married on the plate!
To illustrate this, let’s skip right to dessert! The dessert on our tasting menu was described as, “Sheep’s yoghurt, apple & dill.” To be honest, I was more intrigued by the dessert from the five-course tasting menu, “Beetroot, white chocolate & black olive.” Luckily, the very attentive maître d’ suggested that as a pastry chef, I may prefer two dessert courses instead of a cheese course…he was right!
I am a huge fan of desserts that have a bit of a savoury twist (I am the girl that always chooses salty over sweet), so I was excited about the beetroot, chocolate and olive dessert. And it did not disappoint. The salty, brininess of the olives was the perfect foil to the sweetness of the other components. I loved this dessert, but I LOVED the yoghurt with dill and apple. On paper I thought it sounded a bit boring, but in words used to describe Chef Westcott’s food before, it was bloody marvellous! It was clean, fresh and balanced with just enough sweetness coming from paper thin shards of meringue. It was the perfect ending to a tasting menu that left us sufficed, but not stuffed.
Ok, now back to the beginning. Words cannot describe the deliciousness of this dinner, and they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is what the tasting menu looked like…remember it tastes even better than it looks!
Snacks (from top left): onion bhaji; oyster leaf & fish roe; crispy fish skin with smoked cod, oyster & dill; pig's head & smoked apple
And just a final note on tasting menus. If you are going to do it go all the way and get the wine pairings. When the kitchen is creative as it is at the Typing Room, the flavours are subtle and nuanced and they deserve to be highlighted by a perfectly paired wine. During our seven courses, we had only one red wine (a beautiful Portuguese red to go with our Iberico presa). I have to say, I felt a little sorry for the table across that room that drank a bottle of red wine through the whole meal…they don’t know what they missed (like a cocktail made of Yuzu Sake & house-disgorged champagne)!! So open yourself up to new tastes, new flavours and new combinations, enjoy yourself and you may find a new favourite!
If you want to learn more about Lee Westcott or try some of his recipes, check out this link Great British Chefs. When I am feeling adventurous I will give one a try and let you know how it goes!