It's a beautiful restaurant; reminds me a bit of the old Press Club in vibe. Kind of quiet and calm certainly that way when we arrived. I loved the ceiling fixture of the "E" enlarged and hanging there with light beaming off it.
We were shown to our seats at the bar with a great view into the kitchen. We love sitting at bars watching artists at work but usually such seats aren't that comfortable for long periods and are pretty cramped. These seats are roomy and the stools have supportive backs so sitting up there is a true pleasure.
Scott, or Scotty has he introduced himself, is certainly very customer friendly as he greets his guests and even serves up plates at times whilst toiling away at the pass. Nice personal touch that he does and he made several circuits of the floor and at the end of the night I think he made an appearance at the Bistro next door. He seems to have balanced out the work of being a chef as well as being one with a profile and I think nowadays, that's something chefs have to embrace. I'm sure the chefs of yesteryear probably had less pressure to have a people presence but TV shows, social media and all that have changed that.
Scott's personal but extremely capable and professional expertise rippled through to the front of house staff who were slick but not cold and managed to make us feel that we were individuals.True hospitality professionals. Personal interactions were timed to perfection so that no other guests food ran late but enough of an exchange to establish connections with customers. A difficult skill to perfect, but these guys are pros!
We were told that we'd retain our knife for the duration of our meal and it was a beautiful Laguiole specimen, especially made for Estelle. The FoH Manager, even cheekily suggested that I could try and slip it in my handbag. Believe me, the thought crossed my mind...
We were offered some bread - pretzel and a bacon and onion. Steve tried both and I went with the bacon knowing there was going to be a journey ahead and I wanted to pace myself. It was fluffy and warm with sweet onion and salty bacon and with some creamy whipped butter it was extremely moreish.
- Cod Roe, Potato Soufflé
- Jerusalem Artichoke, Saltbush
And things continued to be civilised as we were presented with our next dish:
- Tomato, Burrata, Green Olive
We also saw the exacting demands of Scott himself as he quietly reprimanded this chap over his work. As the evening progressed and the activity in the kitchen intensified it really was interesting watching the team interact led by Scott and his 2ic, Josh Pelham. Josh is clearly a great support to Scott but it is indomitably Scott who is in control; right down to the detail. Each time he placed highlighters down from his check sheet, they'd be in exactly the same place and position for when he needed them next. Precision like a surgeon!
Steve and I enjoyed watching him work through his spreadsheet, ticking off courses and adding in extras. This kitchen was not the shouty, loud environment that Gordon Ramsay has opened our eyes to but it's still run with absolute military precision and nerves of steel. I think a whispered demand from Scott has the same cut to the heart impact that an vigorous expletive from Gordon does!
Anyway this Estelle experience is not just about what we see but very much around what we taste so onto this dish. There's a beautiful creaminess from the burrata that is cool in the mouth and freshened up with some intense tomato flavours and a hint of sweetness from the green strawberry hidden beneath the green tomato layers. The green olives added some seasoning to balance the fruitiness.
Again a meat dish that was reassuringly familiar, classically executed and amazingly tasted with gratings of bone marrow that I watched melt into the meat.
Tender with that moreish fattiness that lingers in the mouth in the right way, the onions and charred greens added some much needed sweetness and veggie goodness to just counteract the richness of the meat.
Oh what a delightful cheese. I think we've found a new fave. The wafer thin petals almost spreads on the yummy pieces of crispy fruit bread or the fluffy brioche buns that came with it. It's a creamy but salty and intense but not aggressively so kind of cheese. So yummy!
In the dessert section there's the option of a passionfruit souffle but it didn't happen for us...not sure where the breakdown in communication came from but having talked about it, I guess it was never noted on Scott's spreadsheet. We didn't feel the loss too badly as we'd had so much anyway.
So the first plated dessert was Rosella, Sorrel and Macadamia. There was actually white chocolate in then to balance the savoury tones of the macadamia mousse. Sorrel granita brought back some memories for us as we'd had a sorrel granita with blueberries at Restaurant Sat Bains many many years ago.
And then we moved to the chocolate dessert - Violet, Milk, Chocolate. A friend once said to me dessert isn't really dessert if there's no chocolate. I beg to differ as I'm more a fresh fruit, citrus kind of dessert gal but I don't mind a little choccy. This had a refreshing more than a hint of mint note running through it which I think helped lift some of the intensity and the milk ice cream was great at that too. I can rarely finish a chocolate dessert so struggled with this, not because it wasn't good but more as chocolate is not my number 1. Steve ate what I left very willingly though so proof is definitely in the pudding.
I didn't take a picture of our final mouthful which was Lemon Aspen, Sherbet, Bombe. A mouthful of lemon filled doughnut is Heaven enough and then there's this cheeky sherbert after effect that zingles and tingles. Popping candy is so last season. Roll on sherbert. I'd have loved a sherbert straw filled with this stuff. Perhaps an idea Scott? Like a take home party bag like kids do after birthday parties? I think they call them lolly bags in Australia though!
This was a wonderful meal and the danger of Friday night degustation menus after a long week of work is the inevitable fatigue especially after lots of food and wine but this was invigorating and refreshing from beginning to end. Loved it and looking forward to returning soon.
Oh and did I mention, we spotted Curtis Stone and I think he was with his parents. #starstruck