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.

Kitchin

Kitchin

10th December 2016 7pm

https://thekitchin.com/

A few of us get together every Christmas and have a lovely meal somewhere. We decided we wanted some Michelin starred goodness, so got ourselves along to Kitchin. I hadn’t been to Kitchin since it had it’s refurbishment and it have to say it’s looking lovely. On arrival our coats and bags (full of exchanged Christmas presents) were taken and we were given a key in exchange so we could collect everything quickly on our exit. We arrived a little early so we were shown to the bar area to have some drinks, nibbles and peruse the menu. The bar area was warm, with a fire going and the seating was sumptuous. We orders some cocktails and we’re given some crisp breads with a cheese dip. We even got some cute little pop out hand towels as one of the crisp breads had a sticky coating. The crispbreads were tasty but not too filling. Just enough to keep you going until you were eating at your table.

We were shown to our table, passing the kitchen (where you could see Tom Kitchin at the pass) to find ourselves pleasantly nestled in a nice corner. We had decided to choose the seasonal tasting menu and immediately started salivating. Whilst we waited for our first course to come out, we were presented with little maps showing where food from the menu was sourced. We also had a small loaf of bread for the table to share. This was light, with a superb crust. When we tore it open, steam rose up and the butter melted perfectly on the soft bread. There was a small problem of the lace on the sleeves of my dress catching on the place mats – they need to sort that out!

Cold Carrot Veloute - Kitchin

Cold Carrot Veloute – Kitchin

Firstly we were given our amuse bouche, which was cold carrot veloute with ginger, lime and apple, with delicately small pieces of vegetables scattered on the top. I love a veloute but had never had a cold one. I am pleased to report that it was delicious. You could taste every element; nothing was lost. A great start.

Mackerel Tartare - Kitchin

Mackerel Tartare – Kitchin

Then we moved onto mackerel tartare with winkles, brown shrimp, seaweed and croutons. This was a strong flavoured dish, which may not be to everyone’s taste but we lapped it up. They cleverly used the seaweed to help season the dish. Everything on the plate was miniature, including the incredibly tiny croutons. Around the outer rim of the dish was ice, to keep the fish at a cool temperature. It served as an attractive setting too. A solid dish.

Sweetbreads - Kitchin

Sweetbreads – Kitchin

Then, I was excited to see the next dish was sweetbread. I had sweetbreads a few years ago at Kitchin and had not had the opportunity to have them again since. They were absolutely divine (and a highlight for me). Alongside the sweetbreads were ox cheek, bone marrow, onion, onion purée, assorted nuts and veal jus. Every element on this dish sung. The bone marrow melted on the tongue. The onion elements brought everything together. It was just a shame the serving size meant I couldn’t savour it for long, but needs must on a tasting menu.

Seabass - Kitchin

Seabass – Kitchin

Next, we moved onto the fish course of sea bass, cauliflower purée, cauliflower florets, mussel, shrimp and an emulsion of vegetables, wine and butter. This was beautifully plated. The fish was cooked to perfection, flaking easily. The purée and emulsion worked together very well and unified the dish.

Hare - Kitchin

Hare – Kitchin

We then had hare with hare cannelloni, beetroot, beetroot purée, root vegetable purée, apples, carrot, sprout and topped off with a hare sauce. I’d not had hare before and I think was closer than venison that rabbit. It had a wonderful gamey flavour. The cannelloni was nice, using more hare as part of the filling. The vegetables and purée added a lovely complimentary flavour.

Blackcurrant Sorbet - Kitchin

Blackcurrant Sorbet – Kitchin

We then had a palate cleansing pre-dessert of blackcurrant sorbet, yoghurt mousse, homemade granola and apple and blackcurrant compote. The flavour of the sorbet was very strong and sharp. However, the yoghurt mousse balanced it out perfectly. The crunch of granola added enough texture.

Plum Crumble Souffle - Kitchin

Plum Crumble Souffle – Kitchin

Our final course – dessert – was plum crumble soufflé with vanilla ice cream. This was amazingly light. There was rise above the rim of the dish, which is always pleasing to see. The plum compote was lovely, not being too sweet or too sharp. The accompanying vanilla ice cream was just the right consistency and worked well with the soufflé.

Petit Fours - Kitchin

Petit Fours – Kitchin

We had tea and petit fours and then departed, feeling very satisfied.

Food – 10/10
Service – 10/10
Atmosphere – 10/10
Value – 9.5/10

Overall – 39.5/40

Would I eat here again? Yes, as soon as the bank balance will allow!

Cost just over £330 for three tasting menus, three cocktails and a bottle of wine.