Pied à Terre
34 Charlotte Street
London W1T 2NH
Tel. 020 76361178
Food type: French
Food rating: 6/10
Nearest tube: Goodge Street or Tottenham Court Road
J and I went to Pied-à-Terre to celebrate my graduation and obtaining my first (of two) ‘Mickey Mouse Degrees’. Pied-à-Terre is a 2 Michelin star restaurant located on Charlotte Street. I went there with great anticipation after reading some good reviews of it. We arrived to the restaurant 20 minutes earlier but the restaurant were still happy to have us sitted. We were given a nice cosy table right in the corner which allowed us to be seated side-by-side.
We started off with a glass of orange juice each while nibbling on some green olives. I was very dissapointed that the orange juice was indeed watered down and only half the size of that served at Foliage, yet was similarly priced (£5). I was in the mood for some champagne (after all I did just get my first degree) but seeing as how poor the quality of OJ was I decided to pass.
Canapes were brought to our table as we were per-using the menu. These consisted of Mushroom Beignets, Clam in Pepper Jelly, Foie Gras sandwiched between Poppy Seed Tuille and a Potato Consomme with Sweet Corn Foam and Crispy Rice. The potato consomme was an interesting experience and scores high marks for execution although I found it none too remarkable in terms of flavour. The mushroom beignet was very greasy and would put my local chippie to shame. I really enjoyed the clam in pepper jelly and the foie gras sandwich. In particular, the sweetness of the clams paired perfectly with the jelly and was a triumph in texture, temperature, taste and harmony. An overall 7/10 for the canapes.
There was a good selection of bread including baguette, wholemeal, poppyseed, bacon & Onion, tomato and Guinness amongst others. The bread was overall good (7/10) with a nice crunch upon breaking and fluffy in the inside. The bacon & onion bread resembled more of a muffin and was a tad greasy.
No amuse bouche… a first in my short experience of fine dining – the credit crunch must really be getting to the restaurant industry.
Our starters arrived quite promptly – I went for the Poached & Seared Foie Gras with Borlotti Beans, Smoked Bacon, Pea shoots and a Sauternes Consomme. I am a huge lover of foie gras and I found that this rendition was very good indeed although I there were a few nit picks. The foie gras sat on top of a ‘lasagne’ of borlotti beans and smoked bacon. For additional drama, the consomme came in a small saucepan and was poured at the table. The foie gras was gently poached in sauternes and as such was evenly seasoned throughout. However, while i am a huge fan of cooked foie gras, I am of the believe that the exterior should be crunchy/crispy with an almost molten interior. No such luck here as the searing was done to colour the foie gras. The pasta was very thin and silky smooth, sliding down the palate easily. The borlotti beans were slightly undercooked for my liking and remained slightly hard. I loved the pea shoots and smoked bacon as they added extra depth of flavour to the dish. The consomme was a revelation – deep, intense and full of flavour. Despite some of the flaws, this dish was a solid 8/10 bordering on 9/10.
J had Poached Lobster with Scallops, Baby Carrots, Vegetable Nage and Samphire. I had only a small taste of this so it is hard for me to comment on this. From my bite, I found that lobster overcooked and tough, almost rubbery.
Yes, I’m trying to illustrate how bad service was – it was 45 minutes before our mains (Roasted Rib of Veal with Garlic Gnocchis, Creamed Morels, Roasted Garlic and Sage Jus) arrived. No apologies, no explanations… they didn’t even bother offering us some bread while we waited. Did I complain you say? Well I would have done so except there wasn’t a waiter even near us. My guess is that someone probably burnt the food and it was sent back to be redone.
When the veal arrived it was rather disappointing. The veal while correctly cooked was tasteless and underseasoned. Never in my life have I had veal this bland and unexciting. Perhaps this had something to do with the sourcing of ingredients? The veal sandwich accompanying the rib was very greasy – a repetitive theme of the night’s dinner. Leaving the disappointment of the veal aside, the accompaniments were pretty good. The garlic gnocchi was light as a feather and the sage jus had incredible depth of flavour. The creamed morels were packed full of flavour but were so small that they should have provided us with a magnifying glass to find them. So small in fact that J didn’t know what they were! Unfortunately, despite the great accompaniments, it is hard to ignore the shortcomings of the veal itself (5/10).
A pre-dessert of Walnut Soup with Passion Fruit Mousse and Chocolate Crumble was pleasant – the toasted brazil nuts provided a nice bite (6/10). The passion fruit mousse could have done with a more intense passion fruit flavour though.
I initially planned to share a plate of cheese with J before desserts but with the service being downright attrocious and the veal utterly disappointing, we decided to settle for ‘just’ one dessert. (I also intended to get a nice glass of Sauternes…)
My dessert of Poached Rhubarb, Strawberries, Champagne Sabayon, Cristallised Pistachios, Strawberry and Yogurt Sorbet was very disappointing indeed. This was a posh take on rhubarb and strawberry crumble. Often times, rhubarb is overpoached and becomes a soft mush. In this case, the poached rhubarbs were still quite hard and had hardly any flavour infused into it from the poaching. The strawberries were pleasant. The cristallised pistachois was simply too sweet and cloying. I loved the champagne sabayon while the sorbet was passable but certainly not the best sorbet I’ve had. The biggest problem I had with this dish was the unnecessary use of foam. Foam when done right certainly adds a lot to a dish. However, this is a textbook case of how not to do foam – it just ended up sinking on to the plate in globs of muck (4/10).
We finished our dinner with some tea and petit fours. I had a pot of lapsang suchong which took ages to arrive. How difficult is it to brew a pot of tea? The petit fours were served to us a good 10 minutes before our tea had arrived. When it arrived, they actually asked me if I wanted milk with it *rolls eyes*
Unlike many other restaurants – they brought a whole array of petit fours. Amongst others were mango-chilli pastilles, mint and chocolate truffle, fairy cake, rhubarb and lemon cream shortbread, praline and caramel baskets and tuilles of various sorts. The petit fours were like throwing as much sh*t at the wall and seeing what sticks. The mango-chilli pastilles tasted a lot like dried mangoes although the chilli flavour was lost. While Mint and chocolate should in theory go together like ham and cheese, the raw mint used here was downright revolting. J (who is very easy to please) commented that the truffle was disgusting – strong words coming from someone who finds the MSG laden food in chinese buffets acceptable. One of the tuilles had dessicated coconut and brown sugar and reminded me of a local Malaysian treat called ‘apong’. All in all, the petit fours were definitely a mixed bag (6/10).
A 3 course meal cost £68.50 with a £5 supplement for my foie gras – hardly a bargain. At these prices, I expected fireworks and something magical. Alas, all I was left with was sheer disappointment. My biggest beef with Pied-à-Terre is the downright awful and inept service bordering on condescending at times:
‘Sauternes is a sweet wine which comes from France…’
Well duh!! That is like *brand new* information!
While I do not mind the small and intimate dining room, being ignored half the time is simply unacceptable. Our water was not topped up when needed – I would rather they left the bottle of water on our table for us to do so ourselves. No explanation was given for our wine – indeed, my glass of wine was just plonked on the table while the sommelier only confirmed the name and year of our bottle of red. Never have I felt that the ‘optional’ 12.5% service charge to be so unjustified. 2 Michelin stars? You must be joking!