Pin It


Hibiscus** [Restaurant Review]

Friday, 29 January 2010

Reviewed by the Wild Boar

I had the day off on a Friday and the PigPig promptly arranged tickets to watch Cirque du Soleil. We then spent an hour thinking where to go for lunch prior to the show then I remembered Su Lin’s glowing recommendation of her lunch experience at Hibiscus; naturally, greedy us also wanted to try it now. We went for the same 3 course set lunch menu that includes a glass of champagne for £29.50.

I won’t go into too much details of the restaurant’s history and details but essentially it is run by Claude and Claire Bosi, a French husband and wife tag-team who originally had a two Michelin starred restaurant in Ludlow, Shropshire but moved to London in 2007 and have managed to retain their two starred status in 2009 and 2010.

We were (again) the first to arrive at the restaurant for lunch and were shown to a nice corner table which to the PigPig’s joy had good lighting. I was a bit taken aback at how small the restaurant was, apparently only 45 covers + a private chef’s table downstairs. Meanwhile the décor was very plain with nary an ornament in sight bar the chandelier over the centre table in the room.

Some olives were provided for nibbles, something I thought was a bit odd given this was a French restaurant. However, the diced herbs with the olives gave it a fresher zing and was a nice touch.

Hibiscus, London

Our amuse-bouche had a name I couldn’t quite catch from our waiter’s thick French accent, but essentially it was a creamy soup accented with ras el hanout, made from 21 different spices to give a taste of Africa. I thought it was quite nice, but nothing very special actually; if it was served in an ordinary bowl (or shotglass as most soupy amuse-bouches seem to be served) I would actually have been rather disappointed.

Hibiscus, London 1

The sourdough bread was very nice though, lovely and warm. The top crust was a burnt but the rest of the bread was fluffy and went really well with the richly-yellow butter (from Wales apparently).

Hibiscus, London bread

I chose a terrine of foie gras and goose for my starter. Concentrating on the meat bit first, the goose meat was quite rich and well seasoned and together with the foie gras made for a rather dense lump of protein/fat. Luckily then for the rather mysterious yellow blobs by the side which provided a good citrusy tang to the meat which I’m guessing was also made from Buddha’s hand. I would have preferred thicker slices of both the Buddha’s hand and the black radish though.

Hibiscus, London foie gras

The wife had a warm royale of walnut and parmesan with a salsify veloute (she thinks there was also a bit of pear in there, but we forgot to take a picture of the menu to be sure of this). According to the waiter, salsify is a form of root vegetable and I was quite keen on trying it, as I don’t recall having it before; Wikipedia claims it has the taste of oysters but I certainly don’t recall any of that. At any rate the overall dish was quite well thought out I reckoned; the creamy soup was already delicious while the parmesan added extra flavour and the walnuts texture.

Hibiscus, London soup

We were both quite taken with the knives and although they looked a bit toy-like to me, they moulded well into my hand and felt really comfortable to use.

Hibiscus, London

For my main I had a roast partridge which came paddling in a little pool of caper and raisin sauce while there was another little puddle of beurre blanc to further flavour-ise the meat, which was itself perfectly cooked to juicy pinkness. I thought the pomegranate bits were a nice touch although I am not personally a big fan of them. Sitting atop the little ball of the savoy cabbage was a rather mysterious wafer which we reckoned to be made of some of the partridge’s innards smeared on some toasted bread.

Hibiscus, London partridge

Naturally, the PigPig chose the more opulent option, paying an extra £10 supplement for the limousine veal belly (why limousine? I don’t know. Maybe the chef thought it looked a bit similar, which it kinda does if you squint a bit at it). The piece itself was a joy to eat, with lots of tender juicy baby fat interlaced within the layers of meat. The naturally milky-ish taste of veal was further highlighted with the sauce of goat’s cheese, thankfully quite mild in flavour. The accompanying vegetables provided a welcome break every now and then with its fresh strong flavours too.

Hibiscus, London veal belly

As if there weren’t enough calories in there already, the course also came with a risotto with very generous shavings of black truffles.

Hibiscus, London truffle risotto

My lemon tart felt really weird at the first bite as it was not only sour but it had also a fair amount of bitterness (and saltiness) within, presumably from the zest. Further bites found extra dimensions of sweetness as well as finding some salt as well, making it a rather odd little combination for me. The PigPig also found it weird at first, but towards the end of the dish she actually enjoyed it more and more.

Hibiscus, London tart

I was a bit apprehensive of trying the coconut parfait as while I love eat/drinking fresh coconut, processed coconut products rarely make me happy. Luckily there was very little coconut flavour within this little piece and most of the dish’s flavour actually came from the rose sorbet and surrounding lychee compote.

Hibiscus, London lychee

Altogether, the total bill came up to £42 each, including a bottle of still water (the champagne in the pictures were part of the 3 course lunch menu). The service was reasonable, fairly prompt and attentive but they didn’t feel particularly warm and their descriptions of the dishes were rather shorter compared to other starred restaurants.

Food – 7.8
Service – 5.0
Atmosphere – 5.0
Value – 5.0

Overall I thought the food was of genuine high quality throughout, in terms of ingredients used, cooking technique, plate presentation and also the combination of flavours across each dish was well thought out. In fact, I can’t actually think of any strong flaws to particularly comment on in terms of the food.

Best bit: the veal was simply superb.
Worst bit: err, the room was a bit boring looking. Ok fine I’m grasping at straws here, there wasn’t any major issues I encountered.

29 Maddox St
Mayfair, W1S 2PA
Tel: +44(020) 7629 2999
Official website

Hibiscus on Urbanspoon

0 oink oinks...:

Post a Comment