Saturday, 28 February 2015

Kitty Fisher's Mayfair

According to the age-old nursery rhyme, there may have been a bit of a rift between Lucy Locket and Kitty Fisher; slightly sinister meanings always lie behind those little ditties. This Lucie, however, has very different feelings towards dear Kitty; she bloody loves her!

Ok, it's not a 'her'. It's a restaurant in Mayfair's Shepherd Market, whose kitchen is headed up by Tomos Parry; so in that sense it'd probably be more like a 'he'. But like the 18th-century courtesan it's named after, a lady who apparently once ate a 1000 guinea note on a slice of bread and butter, Kitty Fisher's is just as lavish - though thankfully without the hefty Mayfair price tag!

This time last month I was feeling particularly smug. Not only were The Chap and I heading to London for a long weekend of food and drink fun, but we had a table booked at the hottest restaurant in town. In the weeks prior to our trip, new rave reviews of Kitty Fisher's kept popping up, and Twitter was rife with photos of the most delicious looking beef. This sneak preview felt almost perverse; we probably shouldn't have been scouring social media so intently, but it was addictive, and as a result, it simply made us more hungry and excited about our Saturday night dinner reservation.

Formally at Climpson's Arch in London Fields, Young British Foodie Chef of the Year 2014, Tomos Parry, has been joined by ex Pitt Cue Co sous-chef Chris Leach. Together, they create wonders on their wood-fired grill, so much so that they've been fully booked since they opened in December! With competitive prices - up to £9 for a starter, mains £15-£30, and desserts under £8 - it's easy to see why. The 40-seat restaurant that's split over two floors "prides itself on atmosphere", and since every who's-who has eaten here, its got the reputation to back it up. 

We started with the bread and butter (£3), and you'll be glad to hear that there was not a bank note in sight! Chunks of crusty sourdough had been drizzled in oil and grilled, then served with burnt onion butter; whipped to an almost cloud-like consistency, the butter was dusted with black onion ash, and was a thing of beauty. Some restaurants get bread so wrong, but the fact that The Chap and I were wrestling over the last smears of butter on the plate says it all.

Not being massively flush post Christmas, we decided that we'd go down the route of ordering three starters between us, and sharing a main, before deciding if we could manage dessert. And yes, we obviously had dessert.

The Beef Tartar (£10) was a peppery little number. On crisp rye, the chopped beef was fresh and fragrant with rosemary, peppery thanks to the nasturtium, and it had a punchy acidity coming from the shallots. It had great texture and ticked all the tartar boxes.

Lamb Cutlets, with anchovy, mint and parsley were our second starter (£10.50). Sat alone on the plate, there was nowhere to hide; they had to be good, and they were. Charred on the outside, blushing pink within, they were everything you'd want a piece of lamb to be. And there was just enough of the salty, herby sauce to amplify the flavour of the meat; any more and it'd be at risk of overpowering the little cutlets.

Red Mullet (£12) completed the set, firm white flesh and a clear, intensely fishy sauce. Delicate, delicious, and the charred cucumber was something I'd never tried before.

Every single person that's eaten at Kitty Fisher's has raved about the beef. I'm not sure they intended it to be their showstopping, signature dish, but it's all people are talking about.  At £30, it's not exactly a cheap dish, but it had to be done; and actually, it was plenty big enough for us two to share.

The Galician Beef Sirloin is a prime cut taken from an old dairy cow; something the Spanish do so I'm told. I'm going as far as to say that it was the best piece of beef I have ever had. EVER. Not pink, but crimson slices of meat had been laid out on the plate, dazzling us with black caramelized edges and rugged pieces of fat. Looking at my knife, which seemed like it'd only be good for butter, I had my doubts, but it slid through with ease, and the beef just melted in the mouth. It's actually ridiculous how good it tasted.

It's accompaniments shouldn't go unnoticed though; little cups of burnished onions, filled with rich, meaty juices, and the occasional pickled walnut. Waxy pink fir potatoes, coated in a mustard dressing and oozing Tunworth cheese; potatoes and cheese - yes please! And there were greens for good health too.

We had three options for dessert, but not wanting to over-do it, we just chose two (a decision that I still regret). Chocolate mousse, rhubarb, creme fraiche and hazelnuts (£8). It wasn't the prettiest of dishes, but I thoroughly enjoyed all the flavour/texture contrasts; velvety chocolate, sweet but sharp rhubarb, tangy creme fraiche and crunchy hazelnuts. A simple two-scoop serving of brown bread and marmalade ice cream (£6) was equally as good... But nothing will live up to that beef!

As if all of this isn't good enough as it is, the wine list is very reasonable too; in fact you can get a glass of the house red for a mere £4! If you're planning on going, firstly, good luck; I imagine it's pretty hard getting a table any time soon. And secondly, request a table downstairs; it's much more intimate, you get a view of the kitchen, and you won't get hit with unwanted cold air every time someone opens the door. 

All in all, a stellar supper from the team at Kitty Fisher's; I just fear that the old milkers have ruined beef for me forever.

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