First, obviously, the food. Truly exceptional. Original, creative, beautiful to look at, beautiful to taste, perfectly cooked and so on. We'll spend some more time on this below.
Second, the service. It was exactly the level and type of service we expect from a 2 star restaurant. We were greeted with a smile at the door and the genuine warmth and friendliness of the restaurant staff never went away. Super knowledgable about the food, efficient throughout, they made a pefect read of our table and what we wanted. Sarah Cooper, restaurant manager, was first class.
Third, the sommelier, Roman. Great and original food-wine pairings with a focus on organic wine that benefits from the process. He provided great explanations of the wines and what we could get out of each of his selections. It really enhanced the meal
We again did the tasting menu though at Hibiscus, it's a little different to normal. It's different because you don't know what you're getting - chefs choice! They ask you about allergies but otherwise you're in their hands. It added a nice little bit of extra excitment not knowing what would be next out of the kitchen.
The amuse bouche was a delightful little creation, a Hibiscus & Pineapple Soda, straight out of the cold store, the glass still frosted. We were told to take a few sips and then shoot the remainder. No menus, cocktail amuse bouche and being told how to eat the food, it was like being back at El Bulli. The cocktail itself was very fresh, sweet and bitter, and slightly fizzy with the bubbles lighter and softer than say champagne giving the feeling of nano-bots cleaning and preparing your tongue. This was a very playful way to start the meal.
The scallop meanwhile was divine. Crusted with hazlenut, breadcrumbs, apple puree, butter and mustard, the scallop top had a beautiful crunchy surface and was perfectly cooked through. The grapefruit jelly was picture pretty and added some zest against the heavier pork pie flavour. Together, it all came together unexpectedly and delighfully. One of the themes of the meal we think was to put familiar ideas in unfamiliar places and make it work, or to create familiar ideas in orignal ways. We've already had 'fish and chips' that wasn't and now we pair pork pie with scallop. This is really exciting food.
Wine wise, this was beautifully paired with a Chateau de Beru 2008, an organic Chablis.
The wine here was a medium bodied white, Jakot, Dario Princic from Italy. Jakot is a play on the name Tokaji given the Hungarian trademark though this was not a sweet wine, more dry. With notes of textured herby fruit, it was another enjoyable pairing.
The bill wasn't so bad either for first rate 2 star dining, coming in at around £165 a head for eight courses and seven wines. We also got a little box of petit fours to go. The competition at this level of restaurant is tough: last week, we thought the food at Pied a Terre was excellent and likewise, earlier this year we really enjoyed The Square. We would certainly relish eating at both of those venues again, but given that Hibiscus was superlative throughout the meal on every aspect, if we had to pick one, then it would have to be Hibiscus. Our new 'best restaurant in London'.
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