Wednesday, April 11, 2007


i love having lunch. especially if its not at my desk at slavedrivers inc. i had been wanting to go to marcus wareing's petrus for a while, but i'm a lazy git and the trek to knightsbridge and battling the inevitable crush of tourists outside harrods contributed to a large amount of inertia. still, it had to be done, and what better day to do it than on bank holiday easter monday when you're allowed to make lunch a long leisurely affair, catch up properly with a friend, and eat fabulous food. embarrassingly, i got lost in the berkeley once i got past the top-hatted doormen but a lovely waitress from petrus rescued me from the marbled lobby and steered me right to my table next to the windows.

soon after being seated, fussed over and plied with sparkling water, two miniscule crucibles were brought filled with tiny toasts and a smooth liquid chickpea homous with topped with a sprinkling of paprika and olive oil. this was soon followed by an amuse bouche in the form of a shot glass filled with a thick creamy mushroom veloute topped with a light cep foam. the shot went down smoothly and was a perfect medium for dunking the crisp garlic breadsticks. not exactly civilised behavour when presented with such elegant food, but it had to be done. the slenderness of breadsticks ensured that there was as proportionate crunch to cream ratio, and it was the type of savoury pre-starter that left you lusting for the stuff to come.

our first course was a poached quail salad. the breast of quail was stuffed with foie gras, sliced and tossed with mushrooms and micro greens in a truffle vinagrette. despite being a crash course in protein, the salad was surprisingly light. on the plate also was a roasted clove of garlic which squeezed easily out of its shell and added a slight nutty sweetness to the salad.

for our mains, we both chose the slow cooked pork belly. the oblong of pork belly had supposedly been braised for 24 hours and was served rested on a bed of confit shallots and lemon. a swipe of black olive tapenade, a crisp sliver of crackling and a splash of jus completed its presentation. the braised pork had been softly cooked and was moist throughout with just a hint of crisp on the surface from having been finished in a pan. i personally thought the topping of capers and the black olive tapanade were a little gratuitous since the pork, potatoes and confit shallots were in a little perfect tasty triune symbiosis, but they did no offensive harm. the sliver of crackling added a lovely crunch and i would have happily eaten a whole bowl of the crushed potatoes on their own. the crushed potatoes had been cooked to a happy point where they toed the fine divide between mush and undone, and were seasoned just so with a sprinking of parsley.

though i was almost reduced to throwing a mini tantrum with our rather charming waiter when told that THE custard tart was not available, i was secretly pleased because it meant i did not have to make the very difficult decision of having to forgo the tarte tatin. while waiting for pudding to arrive, a shotglass layered with a honey and sauternes jelly, vanilla cream and granny smith apple sorbet helped to ease the pain of waiting. the tarte tatin finally arrived with a flourish in a copper pan which was presented before us before being cut into equal halves (NB: i was keeping an eye - i love you L, but pudding is pudding). served with lashings of clotted cream and banana ice-cream topped with a caramelised sliver of banana, it was a lovely way to end the meal. the apples were caramelly and moist and went rather nicely with the pastry base which was comfortingly sticky in the centre but crisp on the base and edges. the ice-cream had just the right hint of banana and wasn't overly banana-ish which might have clashed a little unceremoniously with the apples. clotted cream, as ever, was an unadulterated pleasure which but for the calorific horror that it is, is sadly far too often restricted to cream teas and holidays in cornwall.

having refused coffee due to the fact we were really rather full at this point, a rather large bon-bon trolley was pushed round and we were brought face to face with a seduction of chocolate truffles on tiered trays and hanging baskets. we exercised a rather mature dose of self-control and declined yet again, and the waiter accepted our rejections with grace and packed us a delightful selection of truffles from the tray to go in a dainty black box embossed with a P, for perfection.


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