Smoked Salmon - Number One

Number One at The Balmoral

8th December 2018 7pm

www.roccofortehotels.com/hotels-and-resorts/the-balmoral-hotel/restaurants-and-bars/number-one/

A group of us always go somewhere fancy for a Christmas get together. This year we booked Number One back in February on the basis that we’d have saved our pennies by Christmas (ha!). A little steeper than tasting menus at some other Michelin starred restaurants, we hoped for something special.

Number One at the Balmoral

Number One at the Balmoral

We were warmly greeted by staff who promptly took our coats and offered us the choice of a drink first or going straight to our table for dinner. We chose the latter. The dining room had a nice Christmassy feel and the lighting was low. We were led to a table in the middle of the room. To my surprise, the place wasn’t full and remained under capacity all evening. This really shouldn’t be the case for a Saturday in December at a starred restaurant. We had already decided to go for the winter tasting menu but my friends talked each other into matching it with wines.

Canapés - Number One

Canapés – Number One

We started off with some amuse bouche, presented on a lovely stand. This included three bites of food; one lobster, one beef and one cheese. Opinion was split on which one was best as we all had a different favourite. Mine was the lobster. They were all delicious though. Afterwards, the sommelier came to talk about the first wine, and introduced each wine with the relevant course as it came out. He spoke confidently and humorously throughout.

Crab - Number One

Crab – Number One

We then started on the first course of the menu, West Coast crab with mango and avocado. This was a light and delicate dish and almost palate cleansed in preparation for the next course.

Smoked Salmon - Number One

Smoked Salmon – Number One

Smoked Salmon - Number One

Smoked Salmon – Number One

Next followed the Balmoral’s signature dish, smoked salmon with lemon purée and quails egg. Our plates arrived under smoked closhes, which were lifted at the same time to allow the smoky aroma to waft across the dining room. The salmon was of high class and a generous portion. The small dots of lemon purée were a lovely addition along with slices of radish and apple. The quails egg oozed appropriately. A delightful course and the favourite for one of the group.

Fois Gras - Number One

Fois Gras – Number One

Fois gras followed. I always feel slightly uneasy with this as a dish and would never order it from an a la carte menu. My fellow diners felt the same. However, we weren’t going to waste a course put in front of us. There is no denying that it was delicious. The accompanying quince and pistachio were beautiful. This course also came with gingerbread. We found this a little too crumbly and sweet for this course (although we obviously ate it all anyway). They didn’t clear up the crumbs it left, as it was served in a napkin on the tablecloth, which I found surprising for a Michelin starred restaurant.

Halibut - Number One

Halibut – Number One

The fish course was halibut. The fish was possibly slightly over cooked but only a smidgen or so. It sat on a bed of cucumber. I am not a fan of this vegetable but it did seem that is made the cucumber a bit mulchy, which made it even less appealing. The seaweed was nice but the oyster felt a bit overkill, almost as if it was there to be opulent rather than for the benefit of the dish. There was a surprise addition of what we think was puffed rice on top of the fish. It certainly added another texture to the plate.

Beef fillet - Number One

Beef fillet – Number One

Then for the meat course, which was Tweed Valley beef fillet. This meat was of excellent quality and melted in the mouth. The accompanying beef short rib was packed full of flavour. The salsify was great and the little risotto underneath was tasty. One of my friends felt the dish could have taken a little more of the horseradish, but that was the only criticism. This was definitely my favourite course.

Brown Butter Financier - Number One

Brown Butter Financier – Number One

We then entered the dessert zone. First came the brown butter financier. Balanced on top was a muscovado chantilly cream and small cubes of apple were scattered around the plate. This was a pleasing dessert. The apple balanced out the sweetness well with its sharpness. It felt naughty without being over-rich.

Vanilla Soufflé and Ice Cream Sandwich - Number One

Vanilla Soufflé and Ice Cream Sandwich – Number One

Second dessert was the impressive vanilla soufflé and ice cream sandwich. As hoped, the soufflé had risen nicely. Sadly, I think it was a touch under done as it still tasted a bit eggy. The ice cream sandwich was a delight though. The ice cream itself was beautifully smooth and the biscuits tasted like Oreos, so what’s not to love?

Petit Fours - Number One

Petit Fours – Number One

We were lastly offered a petit four from a trolly full of them. There were four to choose from but one seemed a bit stingy compared to other places. Nevertheless, they were of a great quality and rounded off the meal well.

Sadly we had to wait ages to get the bill. I don’t mind restaurants not hurrying you out but as we were all sat there with no drinks, not being offered even a drink felt a bit foolish on their part. I might have considered a cocktail but by this time we decided that it was time to call an end to the evening.

Number One at the Balmoral definitely had elements of deliciousness but it didn’t offer anything wow. We felt a little underwhelmed by our experience but still enjoyed the meal overall.

Food – 8/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 6/10

Overall – 29/40

Would I eat here again? Unlikely as there are better offerings in the capital.

£423 for three tasting menus, two with matched wines.

Brasserie Prince

Brasserie Prince

1st August 2018 12.30pm

www.roccofortehotels.com/hotels-and-resorts/the-balmoral-hotel/restaurants-and-bars/brasserie-prince/

Brasserie Prince opened to much fanfare recently. Situated in the Balmoral Hotel, the Roux family have opened a relaxed style restaurant. It was a little chaotic for us on arrival, which was odd considering that the restaurant was not very busy. There were two men in front of us who were speaking to one of the front of house staff. Another three or four staff were hovering. The men were taken to their table and then we were left there for a fair few minutes before finally being acknowledged and taken to our table, even though staff were shooting past us back and forth at quite a rate.

Steak Tartare - Brasserie Prince

Steak Tartare – Brasserie Prince

Fries - Brasserie Prince

Fries – Brasserie Prince

The menu is French on one side and English on the other. I’m not really sure what the point of that is other than coming across as a bit pretentious – or perhaps I’m getting grumpy as I get older. Anyway, if steak tartare is on the menu, I like to try it. This was at an eye watering £27 but as it was just after pay day I thought I’d see what exacl;y was so special about it to justify the price tag, which was quite a bit more than many other items on the menu. My friend opted for the rump steak.

Rump steak - Brasserie Prince

Rump steak – Brasserie Prince

My steak tartare came with fries. This was the only thing that was different – well apart from being hidden under a mound of greenery and parmesan. The flavour was good and the quality of the meat was clear. The fries were decent enough. However, whilst nice, it was no better than what I can get elsewhere in the city for half the price. Across the table from me, the steak was being appreciated. This came with onion rings and French fries. It looked quite uninspiring in the plate though. That said, the steak was cooked well and was gobbled up by my friend.

Dark Chocolate Mousse - Brasserie Prince

Dark Chocolate Mousse – Brasserie Prince

We clearly had room for dessert, so I chose the dark chocolate mousse and my dining companion opted for the seasonal fresh fruit tart. My mousse was simple but beautiful. It was accompanied by some Gavottes biscuits which were incredibly light. My friend was a little disappointed with her fruit tart. She had been hoping for some kind of crème patisserie in it with a selection of fruit on top but what transpired was a fruit purée with two fruits on top, albeit plentiful. This was still a nice dessert but perhaps needs a little more explanation on the menu.

Seasonal Fruit Tart - Brasserie Prince

Seasonal Fruit Tart – Brasserie Prince

Overall we felt underwhelmed by Brasserie Prince. It was expensive for what it was. No doubt it will do well on the name and location but I’d pick many other places to eat before this one.

Food – 7.5/10
Service – 7.5/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 6/10

Overall – 28/40

Would I eat here again? Maybe but unlikely.

£77 for two mains and two desserts plus a glass of wine.