I’d wanted to return to Boulestin ever since my premier visit in August and, when an invitation arrived to try their Festive menu, I could barely contain myself with excitement; with trembling anticipation I counted the number of sleeps to the evening and arrived early with wide eyed excitement. I was not to be disappointed.
Once again Chef Andrew Woodford’s imaginative menu didn’t fail to impress. For starters I had no hesitation in going straight for the ½ dozen Duchy of Cornwall native 2 Oysters (£22) The Duchy of Cornwall Oyster Farm, situated on the Helford River in South West Cornwall, is an ancient private fishery, part of the private estate of the Duke of Cornwall, HRH The Prince of Wales and managed by Wright Brothers. Plump, juicy with that alluring fragrance of the sea, I just added a squeeze of lemon, a drop of Tabasco and half a spoon of raspberry vinegar with finely chopped shallots, a slight chew and down they went. Stunning.
Other delightful dishes on offer included pan fried snails served with bacon in a bone marrow red wine sauce (£13.50), scallops (£17.50) and that French Christmas staple pan fried foie gras with roasted quince (£18.50).
Choosing a main took a considerable amount of internal and external deliberation with such an amazing array of dishes on offer. I finally settled on the saddle of venison with roasted beetroot and sherry jus (£27.50) my fellow diner went for the poached lobster, red mullet & mussels with saffron broth (£32.50). The venison was perfectly pink and juicy with a slight crunch to the edges, the beetroot and sherry jus was simply exquisite.
Alternative tempting offerings included roasted pigeon with curly kale and lardons in a Madeira jus (£29.50), duck breast with cherry jus (£29.50) and my second choice Grilled Calf’s Liver (£22.50). My sides were crunchy green beans (£4.75) and pommes Anna (£5.50), a classic French dish of sliced, layered potatoes
cooked in a very large amount of melted butter
– simply delicious.
This was all washed down with copious amounts of a fine Italian red, Visconti della Rocca Etichetta Oro Primitivo, Puglia, served with great enthusiasm by Italian Sommelier, Alessandro. High in both alcohol and tannins, intensely flavoured and deeply coloured this was the perfect pairing with the rich gamey venison.
Not being a big lover of sweet desserts I opted for three cheese board served with quince jelly (£13.75). The boardwalk star was the Mothais a la Feuille, a French goat’s cheese originating in the Poitou-Charentes region of western France, named after the town of Mothe-Saint-Héray where the cheese has been made and sold since the 19th century as a soft, runny almost liquid texture. Alessandro bought a shot of Rum, La Hechicera
from Barranquilla, Colombia, a novel and imaginative pairing that worked surprisingly well.
A close second was Berwick Edge, named after the local ridge, forming the eastern edge of the Glendale valley. This hard cheese is from Doddington Dairy and is often described as strong and fruity. It is smooth in texture and captures a variety of flavours, most notably fresh pineapple with a citrus tang. A cheese for those who appreciate strong flavours and perfect with port.
Last on the board was Fourme d’Ambert one of France’s oldest cheeses, and dates from as far back as Roman times. It is made from raw cow’s milk from the Auvergne region of France, with a distinct, narrow cylindrical shape. The semi-hard cheese is inoculated with Penicillium roqueforti
spores and aged for at least 28 days, again perfect with port.
I finished up with a shot of Sambucca recommended by Alessandro – who was I to argue?
I’ve said it before, everything about Boulestin is perfect; the lighting, the ambiance, the decor, excellent service and, of course, the food. It’s not cheap, but this is French dining at its finest and I urge you all you to give yourselves a treat; it is, without doubt, my restaurant of the year.
Follow their Facebook and Twitter feeds for special offers, and menu developments. They also have a large basement room for private dining, ideal for Christmas parties.
Boulestin5 St James’s Street
0207 930 2030