La Dame de Pic is nestled in the Four Seasons, a five star hotel, next to the tube station Tower Hill, London. This elegantly modern restaurant has recently been awarded a Michelin star in 2018. The menu is designed by renowned French Chef Anne- Sophie Pic, who is known for her unique flavour combinations in her dishes.
We had to investigate this stunning place as we had heard the food was a whole other experience. This was an opportunity that we could not pass up. Entering the restaurant we were greeted by high ceiling room with mirrors and large windows provided maximum light as well as very comfortable chairs. We settled down and started to study the menu in depth.
As it was lunch time, we settled for the set menu of three courses, which was £39. I chose the matcha gnocchi as a starter, the acquarello risotto for the main and for the dessert Williams Pear. While Andrei chose the foie gras for the starter and red mullet for the main and for dessert he chose the white millefeuille. We eagerly waited for our starters to arrive but we were surprised to find that we were presented with an amazing selection of canapés to ease the wait for our first dish.
The amuse bouche was a truly unique flavour combination. The mushroom consommé with Malawian black tea woke up our taste buds as the little glass of umami rich liquor was the starting line of the one Michelin star lunch experience. Slightly salty, with earthy notes, it was the perfect warm welcome-drink that the well-trained waiters offered us.
Next, a selection of Canapés. As suggested, we started with the plankton rice cracker. Delicately dotted with a sweet and sour lemon gel and topped with yellow petals, the psychedelic looking crisp would instantly melt in our mouths after the first and final crunch. The microalgae, a natural marine ingredient which serves as food for crustaceans in the oceans, is predicted to be the trend in the food world this year, and we can see why: The whole sea in a single perfect bite, served on a Saint-Jacques shell, kombu, samphire and stones. A complete sensorial experience.
The second canapé was a gruyere cheese crispy roll with green grapes and was brought to our table on a tree rind lookalike dish made out of cork. A superb mouthfeel when it comes to textures, followed by a not so pleasant aftertaste as the filling appeared to us too heavy and not seasoned enough. As we moved on to the last hors d’œuvre, we agreed that the little cheese story did not manage to complement, conquer or coronate the menu.
Minimalist: Cocoa butter Red spheres and hibiscus petals. More precisely, encased mini cocktails of Campari, rose water and grapefruit on an ice bed. A mouth cleansing bomb and a reminder that it is still winter outside, as it was cold and refreshing.
The vivid green of the Matcha contrasted with the luminescent white of the plate. The gnocchi was perfectly cooked and the softness paired well with the chewiness of the pressed bottarga, which is an Italian salted cured fish roe flakes and is packed full of unmi flavour. The slight bitterness of the matcha was offset by the sweetness of the green cardamom. This was an excellent starter for the rest of the meal as it left the pallet clean and free to enjoy the next dish’s flavours.
For the starter, Andrei chose the pigeon and foie gras paté en croute, pineapple, red kampot pepper, ginger and cardamom chutney, Guatemala Zacapa rum caviar, hazelnuts and cocoa nibs. A French classic centre piece, fusional combined in an exotic, colourful and fruity way. A slight offal taste to it, which Andrei usually didn’t pin point as his favourite, but in this case, it worked just perfectly, being balanced by the rest of the elements.
A rich creamy risotto, the colour of burgundy arrived. Atop it was scattered chunks of blue Stilton cheese and red radicchio. Hidden beneath the risottos surface was caramelised red onions, pine tree buds and small cubes of pumpkin. The risotto tasted of aromatic red wine and was wonderfully seasoned with Parmesan cheese. The softness of the rice was contrasted with the pine buds and the crispy radicchio. When the plate was cleared, not a trace of the red risotto was left behind, it was that delicious.
The main course Andrei chose, worked surprisingly well. We’re talking: Red mullet, vanilla dashi sauce, kumquat gel and hispi cabbage which hid a creamy cabbage, potato and vanilla puree underneath. A truly brave combination, but we chefs love taking risks. A classic French plating style with a well-defined geometric approach of circular and triangular shapes, which were all about symmetry. The extra touch? Entertaining enough, the waitress gently pouring the dashi sauce around the fish, just so that the crispiness of the cooked to perfection red mullet that had a flaky flesh would not be compromised. A bit of Japanese precision and a French bunch of flowers, on the plate.
The white mille-feuille is the chef’s signature dessert and was truly something to remember: Coffee jelly and confit kumquat perfectly layered in between the nutty and savoury puff pastry, meticulously encapsulated within a cuboid of cream topped with glace royal, all surrounded by a timut pepper foam. And Nepal meats France in a delightful way. What have we learnt? Simple things can get complicated. It was like the blank page from the end of your favourite book that you would never want it to finish! This was white, and made Andrei regret that it was the end of the story.
The ovals of poached pear, cardamom leaves, vanilla ice-cream, exquisite cubes of berry jelly and coco dusted chocolate work was arranged into a crescent. It didn’t live up to expectations and felt like something was missing. That was because the exotic sumac sauce was absent. It completed the dish, providing that splash of colour and warmth that it had been lacking. The dry and lemony taste of the sumac sauce extenuated the sweetness of poached pears, jelly and chocolate. The warmth melted the ice-cream, providing the sauce with added vanilla sweetness and the intricate chocolate work provided the necessary crunch. A dessert worthy of Michelin star and a dessert I would happily sell her soul for another taste of heaven.
The meal and the whole experience was well worth the price that we paid for. For a special meal out La Dame de Pic should be at the top of your list. For those who love experiencing new and exciting flavours this restaurant is what dreams are made of.
La Dame de Pic, 10 Trinity Square, London, EC3N 4AJ
Written in coloration with Andrei Costantin