Colonel Mustard had: Starter: Roast duck breast with fennel puree, glazed nectarine, and lavender; Main: Pork fillet with confit belly, boudin noir, roasted salsify puree, peanuts, and breton cider sauce; Dessert: Strawberry shortcake with lemon cremeux and basil granita
Professor Plum had: Starter: Tartare of welsh black beef with smoked paprika and candied beetroot; Main: Breast of poussin with braised leg, lasagne, girolles and mushroom veloute; Dessert: Raspberry mousse with poached pear and marzipan ice cream
You may remember back in the spring when we visited “Londoners’ favourite London restaurant” Chez Bruce. Back then we were also pointed in the direction of Chez Bruce’s sister restaurant, Kew’s The Glasshouse, also owned by Bruce Poole and Nigel Platts-Martin. In London once again this week to celebrate Professor Plum’s birthday, we decided to give it a go.
Small enough to feel cosy and intimate, even in the middle of the day, and with a simple elegance (albeit not quite the same excessive insistence on all round white plates), The Glasshouse certainly gives off a similar welcoming feel to its sister. However, the food, from head chef Berwyn Davies, has more of a traditional feel to it.
While one of my favourite elements of Chez Bruce’s food had been the Asian and Mediterranean influences and spices, here the food is all very classically Franco-British. There was little bold, adventurous or original in the flavours on show: my menu gave me a starter based around the pairing of duck and orange, a pork and apple main and a strawberry, lemon and basil dessert. Given the proximity of the famous botanical gardens (currently enjoying a celebration of global spices), the lack of unusual or creative use of herbs and spices is a little disappointing. It’s a good thing, then, that everything is so well prepared.
The genius of The Glasshouse is not in novelty, but in the knowledge of classically successful flavour pairings and the ability to get them spot on. With both my deliciously juicy pink duck and the meltingly good confit pork belly the meat was cooked to perfection and almost invariably the flavours of each dish were well balanced. With the exception of a somewhat superfluous cube of jelly in the strawberry dessert, it felt like everything on the plate belonged and had a role to play (something that has not always been the case even in the best restaurants at which we’ve eaten).
As you can see from some of the pictures here, the food is also gorgeously presented. The strawberry and basil dessert brought some gloriously vibrant colours that meant it impressed visually as much as it did with taste.
Ultimately, a thoroughly impressive dinner, then, but perhaps not the most original. Also, three courses of excellently cooked lunch, a half bottle of good quality sauvignon blanc and coffees came to exactly £100 between the two of us, eminently reasonable for a restaurant of this class.
Professor Plum in the Dining Room: The night before we went to the Glasshouse we ate out in Knightsbridge, in one of the few restaurants that didn’t have a three month waiting list (as much as we loved Dinner, we hadn’t planned far enough ahead to book it this time). It was a distinctly average Italian: the food was fine, but the starters were overpriced and they tried to get us to order a drink without offering any kind of wine list (which feels like a trap to make you order something accidentally unaffordable). The highlight was the baby on the next table being given a tiny wine glass to drink his water out of so he could join in with the grown ups. The difference in price between that Italian and the Glasshouse? £5. Never assume you’ll get what you pay for (especially if what you’re mostly paying for is Knightsbridge rent).
Having already been to Chez Bruce I had an idea of what to expect at the Glasshouse, and they didn’t disappoint. All of the food tasted and looked amazing, the wine was lovely, and the staff were appropriately attentive. The beef tartare was tangy and melting soft, the poussin was perfectly cooked and I adored the little lasagne, and the pear and raspberry dessert was an unseasonal pairing that worked surprisingly well. We spent a leisurely two hours over the lunch, watching the rain come and go outside, and though the Glasshouse was a bit of an effort to reach by London standards (three changes on the underground? What kind of wilderness were we going to?) it was well worth it for a very pleasant meal.