I swear this is the last blog about Tony’s Birthday but it’s worth the mention because according to Tony, it’s the best meal he’s ever had in his whole life so far. That’s a big call! How am I going to top that next year?! I’m going to have to start researching right now!
So where did Tony have the best meal of his life ever? We went to Fera at Claridges and had the 6 course tasting menu.
We used to watch a lot of Great British Menu and chef Simon Rogan was one of Tony’s favourites so I knew he’d like this treat for his birthday.
Tony kept calling him “the vegetable guy” because this guy would take all sorts of plants we’d never heard of and turn them into something amazing and everyone would rave on about how he brought out all the flavours of the plants. Well it’s one thing watching other chefs commenting on his food and looking at it thinking “God I wish I could taste that” and another, sitting there actually eating one of those creations!
Let’s start with the easy stuff shall we? The restaurant was really easy to get to. A hop, skip and a jump away from Bond St Tube Station. Of course, everyone else travelling there would most likely arrive by Jaguar, Bentley or horse and carriage.
It was beautiful. The atmosphere was great. Everyone was spaced out enough to have their own personal space and yet not so sparsely so you felt like you were part of the buzz. The waiters were extremely attentive and you were never served by just one, they worked flawlessly as a team. You know they’re good when your plates have disappeared from the table and you didn’t even notice someone had come to take them away. These guys were good!
Cocktails, bread, butter and a tree. That tree was gorgeous and you can imagine the size of a place when they can have a tree in the middle of the restaurant 🙂 I don’t know how they did it but that bread had a crispy crust and super soft and moist inside. There’s something so comforting about bread and butter. Thank goodness they didn’t give us any more or I would have filled myself up on it.
I must admit that I used to laugh every time I saw something like this. Such a tiny bit of food in the middle of a dinner plate. I would scoff at the crumb and how much ££ I was paying for it and then feel sorry for the person who had to wash that plate. I’d always sympathise and think that his or her job would be so much easier if they just used a smaller plate. Gone are those days. That’s why dishwashers were created.
This was the appetiser. It wasn’t on the menu so I can’t tell you what it was. Super light, crispy, fluffy and fresh, it held together right until you took a bite and then it completely fell apart in your mouth and tasted delicious!
We were seated next to a guy who worked for Disney. Tony stopped our conversation to speak to him because he thought he was a food critic. Turned out he was scoping out all the best places to stay (and eat) in the world (London being one of his many stops) in order to get ideas to design the new Disney resort cruise ships… What a job!
Note to self: Create a life where eating at Michelin Star restaurants and staying at 5 star hotels (where many esteemed people of the world including Royalty stay) becomes a regular occurrence. Yes, that will do quite nicely!
So where were we? Oh yes, the meal…
Stewed rabbit with lovage
Pea mousse, cod, calamint
The top pictures are of the Pea Mousse, the cod was a nice little surprise at the bottom of the pot.
Rabbit, I wouldn’t normally eat. I had pet rabbits so, I always get anxious eating one. Well, those little puff balls at the bottom were rabbit and as much as I hate to say it, they tasted really good. Tony described them as “the best popcorn chicken I’ve ever had.”
I can tell you now, that the outside was super crispy but not the kind of crispy that cuts your gums and the roof of your mouth and puts a few fractures in your teeth. It was the kind of crispy that crackled in your mouth but then melted softly. If ever there were to be the perfect popcorn chicken, this would be it.
Mackerel tomato, sea lettuce and fennel
Tony described it as “The best canned tomato soup I’ve ever had.”
This was like sipping tomato essence. I don’t think you could taste more tomato than this and mackerel which is normally a very fatty and fishy fish tasted fresh and light. It was the least fishy mackerel I’ve ever had that’s for sure! Those little black dots you see were tiny globules of squid ink 😉
Cod in pine oil , salt baked turnip, leek, black truffle
Wonderful – all the flavours of the leek, turnip and truffle made for a really yummy creamy sauce on a perfectly cooked cod.
55 day dry-aged pork, grilled carrots, lettuce, blewits and nasturtium
Same dish, different angles. One showcasing the vegetables and the other showcasing the pork.
Tony described it as “the best bacon I’ve ever had”. Ahh he really does sound like he’s taking the piss but to be honest, the entire dish smelled like bacon. It just tasted like so much more. You smell it and start salivating in anticipation and it over delivers! What could be better than bacon? This dish most definitely!
Blueberry, yoghurt, lemon thyme
Strawberries, sweet cicely custard, buttermilk and sorrel
Two pictures were taken of the same dessert because no matter what angle I tried, I couldn’t get it to look “pretty”. The colours were there but the plating… nevermind. The taste was sensational and when it comes to food and eating, the taste and the flavour counts for way more points than presentation. That white stuff was buttermilk “snow” and you couldn’t get more snowy than that. It was cold and fluffy! The sweet cicely custard was really good. Eating at this restaurant is an education in herbaceous plants as well as a treat for the tastebuds! Who knew you could turn a herb into a custard! Brilliant!
Petit Four & Tea
Spiced perry, sunflower
Beetroot and pumpkin seed
This was definitely a memorable and spectacular meal, ending with an even more spectacular and memorable tea experience. We each got a flask of water at different temperatures and a minute sand timer so that we could time our tea infusions and use the correct temperature water for our chosen teas!
Tony was definitely a happy chappy!We thought that we’d actually ended our meal on a high note but we were in for a surprise.
We left the restaurant and went across to the concierge to get our coats to leave and as he was handing us our coats, the man said, “Would you like a tour of the hotel?” We smiled at him, said yes but must have both looked bemused at his offer so he said, “You are my last guests and as I have 30 mins left on my shift, rather than standing here waiting for my shift to end, I’d like to give you a tour.”
“We’d be delighted!” we responded so as an extra and unexpected birthday treat, we got a little personal tour of Claridge’s Hotel!
He took us around the different bar areas, showed us where the likes of Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves and Maria Carey sat to have drinks. He even walked us around to see a pretty amazing ballroom (the smallest of the lot) and told stories of royalty staying at the hotel.
We couldn’t have asked for more. We left there feeling really special and having our eyes opened to a whole new world. So THIS is how the other “half” (ie top 1% of the world) live! Not bad, not bad at all 😉
Happy Birthday Tony 🙂 I’m glad you had an awesome day and that I was a part of it xox