in december twitter gave me a christmas present, a lunch at the rib room courtesy of roche communications. given the scale of our pre-christmas gluttony i figured it would be best to take up the lunch in the new year, and so i booked us for january. a fortnight prior when i was looking up some reviews on the rib room i came across jay rayners less than enthusiast one, and since i highly trust his reviews i suggested to o that we should cancel the lunch. but o said that we must try it for ourselves and so we headed to the rib room for lunch on the first saturday in january.
we must have been the youngest couple in the rib room that afternoon which is easily explained by the location and the prices of the food. indeed the set lunch was a total bargain as the price of the three courses set menu fell between the appetisers and the more reasonably priced entrees. jay rayner does absolute justice to the description of the waiters whom he describes as coming in waves. our over attentive, fiddly and forever adjusting trio of waiters actually led to our table being accidentally drenched by a glass of water whilst being served dessert. as far as i was concerned the profuse apologies that followed were uncalled for given that the waiter also brought along extra truffles to atone for his mistake.
|slow cooked duck terrine with celeriac and apple remoulade, damson jam|
|roasted white onion and thyme veloute|
it is hard for me to sum up my experience of the lunch. to start with our starters corresponded only somewhat with their descriptions. o’s terrine of slow cooked duck was accompanied by a quenelle of celeriac and apple remoulade. it sorely lacked the contrast of textures that you should get from apples and tasted like an ordinary coleslaw. my roasted onion and thyme veloute was rich and creamy with a notable absence of thyme.
|roast breast of guinea fowl, cranberry and chestnut stuffing, |
buttered kale, sage and garlic sauce
|poached fillet of cod, roasted jerusalem artichokes,|
celery puree and light anchovy cream
o’s entrée of roast breast of guinea fowl was perhaps the best of the lunch. it came with a buttery and sweet cranberry and chestnut stuffing. the meat was tender and packed with flavour. in addition the plate was beautifully composed. my poached fillet of cod was less successful. the different elements on the plate failed to pull together into a cohesive flavour profile. it was a dish of nursery textures and flavours.
|filo parcel of pear and chocolate ganache with rosemary infused ice cream|
|farm house cheese from alsop and walker|
o’s filo parcel of pear and chocolate ganache was visually appealing but fiddly to eat. the accompanying rosemary ice cream was outstanding with a bright herb flavour mellowed by cream. it was very refreshing! i decided on the farmhouse cheeses, which were excellent. celery, grapes and apple chutney helped refresh the palette through the tasting. i was particularly taken by the sussex blue and the sussex brie.
the highlight of the lunch were the petit four. i generally do not eat banana truffles but here the rum infused milk chocolate and banana truffle was exceptional. a tart passion fruit ganache went a long way in mellowing the intense sweetness of white chocolate. the sommelier did well with recommending a crisp and sharp viognier that was capable of asserting itself against o’s game choices without diluting the paler flavours of mine.
needless to say i am glad that o and i did not have to expense the lunch. it was as jay rayner says ‘an essay in the finer points of dull’. it only occurred to be later that the set course has a notable absence of ribs. that’s a bit like going to steakhouse that serves a set lunch without steak.