Mandarin Oriental Hotel,
London, SW1X 7LA
Tel: 020 7201 3723
Food type: Modern Eclectic
Food rating: 7/10
Nearest tube: Knightsbridge
Foliage is situated in Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Knightsbridge. It is a One Michelin Star restaurant which serves Modern Eclectic food. J and I arrived at 12.15pm – 15 minutes earlier than our booking time and were seated immediately. The dining room was empty and relatively small – catering for a maximum of 45 covers. We settled on some freshly squeezed Orange Juice which was packed full of orange goodness. This was not some diluted rubbish you get served in a chinese restaurant loaded with sugar.
The menu here is ingenious. Instead of the traditional 3 course of Starter-Main Course-Dessert, the lunch menu consists of a 4 course ‘pick what you fancy’ from the menu. While it does seperate Starters, Intermediates, Mains, Cheese Course and Desserts you could in theory pick 4 Mains if you are feeling a bit peckish or 4 Desserts if your sweet tooth needs some satisfying.
Bread selection was limited to White Baguette, Brown roll, Sour Cream, Walnut and Sourdough. The bread was decidedly chewy and were not as good as the bread served at Roussillon.
Chilled Watercress Soup with Sour Cream and a Poached Quail Egg
Amuse bouche was a Chilled Watercress Soup with Sour Cream and a Poached Quail Egg – perfect for this blistering hot summer day. The soup was deliciously refreshing and packed full of flavour with the sour cream providing an extra dimension although I felt it was missing that special something to make it memorable (7/10).
Tuna/ Tobiko/ Wasabi/ Pickled Oysters
My starter was Japanese Inspired – Tuna Tartare with Tobiko, Wasabi Ice Cream and Pickled Oysters. The japanese call it Sashimi, the french call it Tartare – either way it had some lovely raw Tuna served with tobiko, Wasabi Ice cream, Grape fruits and Fried Pickled Oysters. I absolutely adore the Ponzu reduction served with the tuna and I found the Wasabi Ice cream provided a good contrast of hot and cold with the oysters. This dish was indeed inspired (8/10).
Foie Gras / Beetroot / Ginger Bread / Pecans
J starter was Foie Gras, Beetroot, Ginger Bread and Pecans. I had a small nibble of it and from what I could taste the Foie Gras while smooth did not pack enough livery flavour for my liking (6/10). J thought otherwise and found the dish nicely balanced.
Sweetbreads / Glazed Leeks / Morels / Salted Peanuts
My second course was Veal Sweetbreads, Morels, Glazed Leeks, Salted Peanuts and Smoked Mash Potatoes. I have been dying for some sweetbreads lately – I was tempted to order the sweetbreads at Rousillon but J wanted to try the tasting menu. I am glad I didn’t miss this opportunity though – the sweetbreads were gorgeous and I absolutely adored every aspect of this dish – the perfectly cooked and tender sweetbreads, the morel jus and the heavenly smoked mash potato (8/10).
Scallops / Squid Ink / Orzo / Green Almonds
J had Paprika Scallops with Squid Ink and Orzo Risotto with Gold Leaf. I was unfortunately not a big fan of this dish – I felt that the paprika absolutely overpowered the freshness and sweetness of the scallops (4/10).
Lamb/ Pea/ Mint/ Tomato
Mains was a roast Rump of Lamb with Lamb Hash, Sun-blushed Tomatoes and Pea and Mint Puree. The Lamb was correctly cooked and tender although I found it slightly over salted. The pea and mint puree was nicely balanced although there was too much of the lamb hash (5/10).
Guinea Fowl/ Broad Beans/ White Asparagus/ Curry
J’s Guinea Fowl, Broad Beans and White Asparagus with a Curry Foam was a better thought out dish – having had a bite I regretted not going for it in the first place (7/10).
Stilton/ Port/ Poached Pears/ Honey Jelly
I opted for the cheese course – Stilton, Port Wine Reduction, Poached Pears and Honey Jelly served with crisp walnut bread. The stilton was nice and ripe although the port wine reduction was slighly lacking in depth. I loved the pears which were poached in spiced port. The honey jelly was provided a good cleanser to the palate. (7/10)
Milk Chocolate/ Thyme Anglais/ Olive Oil Ice Cream
J the chocoholic that she is opted for Milk chocolate, Thyme Anglais and Olive Oil Ice Cream. Unfortunately, J wolfed this down pretty quickly so I didn’t get to try it.
Petit fours was limited and consisted of truffles – one flavoured with lemon and thyme and the other with sea salt and balsamic reduction added at the last minute. The petit fours were passable. (5/10)
Service was pleasant and unobtrusive – the staff were happy to take pictures of J and I although there was the slight mistake of asking us twice whether we wanted dessert wine despite politely refusing. Overall, the meal was thoroughly enjoyable if indeed inconsistent – some dishes were absolutely stunning – the tuna, sweetbreads and guinea fowl come to mind – while others were definitely ‘work in progress’ or pretty unremarkable. However when good, the dishes were really, really good, hence my score of 7/10. That said, I would actually come back here for dinner in the future.
Tomorrow: Graduation and Dinner at Pied a Terre!!!