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Whitcombs, London, restaurant assessment: Scrumptious French delicacies in an oasis tucked away off Leicester Sq.

Whitcombs London restaurant review Delicious French cuisine in an oasis

It’s simple to sneer at Leicester Sq. and all of its garishness – the sheer sea of humanity, the queues exterior the Lego retailer, the garish lights of M&M’s World, the road performers painted silver, the fixed worry you’re going to be pickpocketed at any second… I might go on. Its solely profitable high quality is that Chinatown is a stone’s throw away from it. So with all this in thoughts, you could possibly forgive me for being barely sceptical about being invited to Whitcomb’s, a French Mediterranean restaurant inside the newly opened Londoner Resort.

However it was a nice reduction to step inside and get away from the bustle and dirt of Leicester Sq.. The resort touts itself as a “tremendous boutique resort”, though, in all honesty, I don’t know what that’s alleged to imply. It’s clearly a (fairly swanky, I have to say) enterprise resort, judging by all of the enterprise varieties milling round within the foyer.

We’re ushered into the restaurant, which is softly lit and ethereal, its partitions and even the ceiling coated with up to date, fashionable shapes. Oddly, there’s a desk laden with shows of produce in the midst of the eating room, which feels misplaced. However cornucopia apart, the area is elegant and fancy sufficient that I ponder if I ought to’ve worn heels as an alternative of my on a regular basis trainers.

Kevin, who seems to be the server of goals, talks us by the menu. He tells us that individuals who dwell within the French Mediterranean usually have two (two!) starters, a small plate and a pasta or risotto dish, adopted by a shared most important with sides, after which dessert. I, having by no means been to the French Mediterranean, don’t have any selection however to belief Kevin, my eyes widenening on the considered all of the meals that’s to come back.

We resolve on the tartare de thon (tuna tartare with confit egg yolk and Oscietra caviar), fromage au 4 (baked Gruyere, Emmental, Cognac and Dijon mustard, maintain the pancetta, served with baguette slices), adopted by a rigatoni au homard (seared lobster with rigatoni and Scotch bonnet labneh creme) to share for our starters.

Surely, the tartare de thon was the star of the present. To start with, it’s at all times a pleasure to interrupt an egg yolk and watch it ooze, coating every part it comes into contact with, which on this case was the fragile cubes of tuna and excellent little spheres of caviar. The dish was wealthy however a citrus tang minimize by the unctuousness, the fatty fish melted on the tongue… my mouth waters pondering of it now. It’s a dish price taking your time over.

There was no such luxurious with the deliciously boozy fromage au 4. Though it got here in a scorching scorching skillet, it was a battle in opposition to time to eat as a lot cheese as you could possibly earlier than it turned a stringy mess, and much more earlier than it set fully. Maybe it could be smart to take a leaf out of the Swiss’s ebook and serve it over a small flame . It could definitely make for a extra relaxed begin to the meal.

When the rigatoni au homard arrived, I used to be shocked to see how beneficiant the chunks of lobster have been (though with a price ticket of £28, maybe I ought to have had even greater expectations). The peerlessly al dente rigatoni lent a a lot wanted chunk to the comfortable lobster, all generously coated within the moreish labneh creme, which solely had a touch of warmth from the Scotch bonnet. However I’m beginning to fear that we’d have already got bitten off greater than we are able to chew. Because the mains arrive I really feel like I already want a break.

However the sight and scent of the ocean bass a la mariniere (pan-seared sea bass with white wine, parsley, shallots and lemon), together with frites and champignons au beurre (pan-seared chestnut mushrooms with garlic and thyme butter), rejuvenates me, and I’m greater than able to dig in.

Now, it’s my opinion that crispy fish pores and skin is certainly one of life’s nice pleasures, and soggy fish pores and skin certainly one of life’s nice tragedies. To my delight, this was the previous. The ocean bass pores and skin was seared completely, making a light-weight however satisfying crunch as I break into it with my knife. My eating companion is just not a fan of fish pores and skin, however that’s solely to his detriment and my utmost pleasure, as I greedily take the pores and skin he casts apart.

Chocolate pot de creme with spiced rum and cocoa nib nougatine

(Whitcomb’s/Purple PR)

The creamy mariniere sauce, which smells so delightfully of shallots and herbs, is extremely addictive – I discover myself spooning extra of it over every part, significantly the shatteringly crunchy frites. I even ponder mopping it up with bread left over from the fondue. My tongue cries: “Sure, extra!” My abdomen cries: “Save room for dessert!” The latter wins.

Kevin returns, all smiles, and presents us the dessert menu. My visitor and I comply with share only one dessert, however give us quarter-hour would you Kevin? We’d must nap first.

We order a pot de creme au chocolat (chocolate pot de creme with spiced rum and cocoa nib nougatine), which is way bigger than anticipated. The alcohol-laced creme is darkish and silky, ever so barely too wealthy if it weren’t for the bittersweet of the nougatine offering a a lot wanted crunch. Regardless of our sighs and groans of being too full, the dish is taken away clear.

The classically wealthy, creamy, buttery French meals that Whitcomb’s presents is completed merely and nicely, but it surely was the surprising accents of tangy, spicy, bitter that I discovered most interesting throughout my meal there. And, surprisingly for a resort restaurant, the meal was good worth for cash, contemplating our most important and sides got here as much as £43 and would have fed three individuals very comfortably.

Though I used to be totally out of my component being surrounded by enterprise individuals, why ought to they’ve all of the enjoyable? Whitcomb’s is an oasis from the chaos of Leicester Sq., serving up totally scrumptious meals. I’ll be again to attempt the remainder of the menu.

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