Starters of ravi­oli, trout and por­ridge

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL - BY ALAN SIL­VER

T IS EASY to warm to TV chef Jun Tanaka’s first solo restau­rant, The Ninth. With ex­posed brick­work, vin­tage cop­per­ware, an­tique mir­rors and dark wooden floors, the Char­lotte Street premises are a cosy an­ti­dote to a win­ter’s night.

Tanaka brings con­sid­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence to the ven­ture — the ninth restau­rant in which he has been in­volved, hav­ing cooked un­der the tute­lage of Michel Roux Jnr and Marco Pierre White and, most re­cently, been ex­ec­u­tive chef at the Pearl in Hol­born, where he gained three AA rosettes. His ex­pe­ri­ence shows in his menu, where the snacks and start­ing op­tions are per­fect for those who like to share, tapas-style. The must-try is a Monaco spe­cial­ity of Swiss chard, pine nuts and feta-filled ravi­oli, while other pos­si­bil­i­ties in­clude mack­erel with dill, cu­cum­ber and ca­pers and grilled pitta with oregano and sea salt.

We were equally taken by the choice of main-course ac­com­pa­ni­ments, from the sea­son­ally sat­is­fy­ing honey roast win­ter veg­eta­bles to pan-fried herb gnoc­chi. The lat­ter worked nicely with my soft and flavour­some whole roast sea bream, served with aubergine caviar. I’m strug­gling to re­call en­joy­ing a fish en­trée more and, hap­pily full, would nor­mally have passed on the dessert.

But the staff, who are gen­uine fans of the restau­rant’s fare, thank­fully per­suaded us oth­er­wise. Though I did beg a taste of my part­ner’s carmelised lemon tart, I had to end with the ul­ti­mate in com­fort food — (French toast) with melt­ing vanilla ice cream. The in­ter­est­ing se­lec­tion of Euro­pean cheeses will have to wait un­til next time.

Also new and worth sam­pling is Pi­quet, a wel­come din­ing ad­di­tion to the Tot­ten­ham Court Road end of Ox­ford Street. Pi­quet is a rather el­e­gant Frenchi­fi­ca­tion of the sur­name of chef pa­tron Al­lan Pick­ett — and a Pot-roast sea bass

is a win­ner at Pi­quet clue to his culi­nary style. Af­ter a pre-pran­dial glass f rom an ex­cel­lent wine list at the streetlevel bar area. we were shown to our shown to our ta­ble in the down­stairs restau­rant, where con­vivial din­ing par­ties were mak­ing more se­ri­ous in­roads into the vino.

The menu op­tions work for all price points. On the day of our visit, Pi­quet’s set-price menu (two cour­ses for £16.50; three for £19.50) of­fered dishes such as mar­i­nated tuna, potroast hake and iced mint sher­bet with choco­late sponge.

The menu du jour is not avail­able af­ter 6.45pm but noc­tur­nal din­ers can or­der the chef’s mar­ket menu — “five cour­ses of to­day’s best pro­duce” for £45 (£75 with wine pair­ings) — and the restau­rant can make sub­sti­tu­tions where dishes do not meet per­sonal taste or religious ob­ser­vance.

We went à la carte, not least to sam­ple the smoked salmon with buck­wheat blini and herbed crème fraîche and a main-course fish choice of potroast sea bass or seared sea trout. The an­chovy dip with bread­sticks served be­fore the meal de­serves hon­orary men­tion.

Asked to iden­tify food trends for 2016, Pick­ett pre­dicts a “firm come­back” for the bakewell tart. And the dessert menu sug­gests that here is a man se­ri­ous about his pud­dings. Un­able to choose, we took the in­dul­gent way out by order­ing the assi­ette gour­mande, a se­lec­tion of six small por­tions shared un­will­ingly be­tween two.

For an­othe r win­ter w a r me r, try some Ja­panese com­fort food at Shack­fuyu, sis­ter of the hugely pop­u­lar Bone Dad­dies, which has gone from a pop-up to a per­ma­nent Soho diner. Among the dishes is “aubergine 4 miso”, an aubergine cooked to melt-in-the­mouth state and pre­sented in a rich, sweet, sticky sauce. Ten­der­stem broc­coli with wafu dress­ing and edamame with sweet chilli soy are also on the Shack­fuyu menu.

City high-fliers can now start their day at a new por­ridge bar in Dar­win Brasserie, 36 floors up at the Sky Gar­den in Fenchurch Street.

The bar of­fers or­ganic por­ridge made with a choice of wa­ter, cow’s milk, soya milk, rice milk or al­mond milk. Com­bi­na­tions in­clude blue­berry, ba­nana & Manuka honey, pear and cin­na­mon com­pôte and ap­ple and brazil nut.

An­other room with a view — and one of the best in the cap­i­tal from a 28th floor van­tage point — is Galv­inatWin­dowsatthe Park Lane Hil­ton. Its an­nual Great Galvin Give­away this year runs on week­day lunchtimes un­til the end of Fe­bru­ary and cov­ers a three-course meal, plus a glass of Bellini, for £30. The lunch, which has to be pre-booked, fea­tures fish and veg­e­tar

ian choices. Al­lan Pick­ett: ‘bakewell tart due for come­back’



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