When I heard Allan Picket
(Chez Nico, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe & Orrery fame) opened his own restaurant just off Oxford Street, my initial thoughts were “Yes, good on him!” and “Oh, but why there
?” Having worked off Oxford Street in the first few years of my career, I’ve learned to have a slight abhorrence towards the place thinking it’s a black hole of and crazy traffic.
But good food is good food. And if reviews were a good sign of what’s to come prior my visit, then my expectations were set on a high.
Walking in, it was rather quiet (it did fill up a few hours later). For some strange reason, I felt transported back into my Great-Granny-El’s lovely home in Manila which she built in the 60s: wooden parquet flooring, honey gold upholstery, jazzed up wallpaper and accents of colour pop. There’s a slightly open kitchen which excited me. Chef Allan was cooking that night, so I got my game belly on.
Complimentary carbs were good. The breadsticks were moreish and I had to restrain myself from digging deeper into that pot of anchovy dip (seriously, they should sell that stuff and make a fine living off it). The butter that came with our bread was good, too.
Ordering the pithivier of Littlebourne snails (£11) for starters made me chuckle slightly because it sounded like a title of a tale (like The Picture of Dorian Gray or Anne of Green Gables). But there’s no chuckling when this gorgeous hill of crisp, golden beautiful pastry arrived.
Lovely escargot and garden peas make up for the filling and they come aplenty. The Madeira jus seals it all together for a lovely sweet, earthy flavour. But it’s that buttery pastry that brings the lesson to the tale. If stories come with happy endings, then the story of Piquet came with a happy start.
My guest went for the crab raviolo (£9.50) which looked picture perfect floating on a shellfish jus and topped with samphire.
Filled with crab meat, the flavour was utterly gorgeous. The samphire and bits of tom cuts through the richness, but it needed a bit of play on texture as it came across as eggy at some point.
For mains, I went for the sea bream (£16.50) cooked a la plancha and served with savoy cabbage, roasted artichokes and a red wine jus. The bream was cooked nicely, although I felt the chef was slightly heavy handed with the salt.
My guest went for the casserole of monk cheeks and baby squid (£16.50). It’s not for the faint-hearted with its generosity, which embodies the essence of French and English cuisine. The fish was slightly over (possibly a one-off), but the bean, squid and chorizo casserole was rich and comforting.
French beans with confit shallots (£3.75) came with a good crunch which always makes up for a good side dish.
I would’ve preferred the dauphinoise potatoes (£3.75) a bit creamier like the way La Petite Maison does it, but flavour-wise it was decent.
We finished the meal with some espressos and the richest truffles I’ve ever had. Bill was paid and I second-guessed myself with more alcoholic concoctions upstairs at The Fir Room. It was a school night, and I was trying to be good.
I liked Piquet enough. I’m sure I’ll go back at some point to try a new seasonal menu. A part of me feels it’s the sort of restaurant that should be at a different location to get the recognition it deserves, but a part of me feels like it can be the sort of restaurant that can stand alone because of the food. Service was good, although a little bit frantic when it got slightly busier. I trust in Allan Pickett’s talent and hopefully, with a bit of push, the rest of London would, too.
92 Newman St, London W1T
Ave spend pp: £50