Monday, 19 December 2011

L'Autre Pied

L'Autre Pied, Marylebone

I did hesitate before I clicked the ‘Buy It Now’ button on the Groupon website. I know that (I really do) if something seems too good to be true, it probably is...  but in the end I did it - I purchased the deal ‘Seven Course Tasting Menu For Two’ for £62 at L'Autre Pied. Being the sister restaurant of the well-reviewed Pied à Terre, and given its Michelin starred status, what could possibly go wrong?

I was not really expecting a full seven course tasting menu for the price we paid. The menu is listed on the restaurant’s website, and consists of canapés, starter, a fish course, a meat course, cheese, pre-dessert and dessert. The menu was obviously tailor-made for the offer, but we still expected some fine quality food.

Unfortunately the evening was not off to a good start. We were asked to show the voucher as soon as we were led to our table, even though it had been verified more than once over their booking system, emails and phone calls. To add further irritation before the meal even began, we were reminded that service would be charged based on the full menu price (this condition was included in the terms and conditions of the deal, which we had to pre-agree before the purchase).

Here is the ‘Autumn Tasting Menu’...


Jerusalem artichoke velouté, burnt roscoff onion, toasted hazelnuts, rocket oil

The canapés were ‘mushroom beignets’, served with some sort of mayo on the side. The deep fried dough was crispy but the greasy brown sauce was off putting. There were a couple of onion slices and some nuts in the soup, together it tasted like a dish that the chef had made up on the spot and given a fancy name.

Pan fried cod, fennel and ginger puree, smoked garlic, red pepper oil

Roasted breast of guinea fowl, salsify puree, curly kale, crushed kohlrabi, thyme and walnut jus

I could not be more disappointed by the fish course. On the menu, the ginger, garlic and red pepper combination sounded like a twist on Chinese flavours, which should have been colourful and fragrant, but it lacked seasoning. It actually brought back memories of monotonous university lectures...  yes, it was that bad. The fowl was slightly better, at least it was seasoned. The salsify puree did not work for me, it was already congealed on the plate when it arrived, an indication that the dish had been sitting around for a while.

Farm house cheese with fig and orange compote

The cheese course was the ‘highlight’ of the meal. We could not believe what we saw - one tiny slice of cheese to share, stabbed by four sesame crackers, and served with a lump of chutney. I did not expect a whole cheese board, but I certainly did not expect that! The menu online did say ‘cheeseS’ instead of cheese, was it too much to ask to have a portion each? I asked the waitress ‘Is this for both of us?’. ‘Yes’. ‘It’s not enough for two people’. She then told us it was a very nice cheese, I said ‘I’m sure it’s nice but we expect a portion each’. She struggled to carry on the conversation and then left our table.

Pre dessert

Baked vanilla cheesecake, apple foam, sunflower seeds, peach sorbet

I did not take note of the pre-dessert as I was still in shock, but I do remember it was the most enjoyable course we had that night.  How ironic? There was no sign of the sunflower seeds in the main dessert, although the peach sorbet was delightful.

We finished our meal in under an hour and a half. Each course was served immediately after the last one, and on a couple of occasions we could actually see the next course waiting while we were still eating the current one. The staff generally seemed uninterested, they mumbled the name of the dishes course by course, as if they were trained to talk to customers using sentences from a telemarketing manual.

We did not drink so the bill came to just under £20, which including the pre-paid amount added up to £41 per head. Ignoring the stingy cheese course, it was really a four small plate menu with a couple of extras thrown in. Based on what we had, the amount we paid was not extortionate, but I would be a lot happier if the food lived up to its reputation, instead of wasting an hour and a half of my life eating bland food in this uninspired place.

L'Autre Pied

L'Autre Pied on Urbanspoon


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