By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Having visited Mr Ramsay’s relatively new Heddon Street Kitchen, as well as Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa (the competition that’s situated just next door) to Bread Street Kitchen, in recent months, I find myself very excited to finally sample what’s on offer at BSK, having enjoyed my trip to the restaurant’s little sister situated in Central London. Arriving at Gordon’s corner of One New Change (the shopping centre that’s located mere metres from St. Paul’s Cathedral) for a mid-week lunch, the downstairs bar is eerily quiet. However, upon entering the cavernous dining space upstairs, it’s clear that there’s still a huge amount of demand for Bread Street Kitchen. Apparently it’s the perfect place for a business lunch within the city, thanks to the beloved Company Credit Card for most of our surrounding dinner guests.
As is the case with most of Ramsay’s chain restaurant type haunts across London, the food on offer is well executed, hearty and reasonably priced. Choosing from the À La Carte menu, the starter of baked Scallops is an interesting one: served on a bed of Sweetcorn purée with crunchy Chicken Skin crisps that take on the texture of Pork Crackling. The Scallops are cooked perfectly, as is the Chicken Skin, although the strong flavour of the Skin does manage to somewhat subsume the delicate Scallops. Meanwhile, a selection of six California Roll Maki uses shredded fresh Crab, wrought alongside Soy Sauce, Pickled Ginger that’s relatively punchy and fresh Wasabi. The result is very pleasant. With the mains, thankfully the Gressingham Duck Breast is always served Medium-Rare at BSK, although it’s the slab of Boulangère Potato that’s the jewel in the crown of this dish. A dish of steamed Sea Bream, on the other hand is wonderful. Placed above a heap of braised Leeks, the tranche of Bream is topped with tiny brown Shrimp that explode on the tongue, swimming in a rich Shellfish dressing that’s made using Veal Stock. Teamed with the mains, the side of Garlic crumb topped Macaroni and Cheese is dense yet delectable.
By the time that we’ve completed our mains, the waiter insists that we sample a selection of the menu’s finest desserts. How could we resist? A platter of three; Strawberry Parfait, Pineapple Carpaccio and Dark Chocolate and Ricotta Cannoli, it’s annoyingly served atop a rustic Olive wood chopping board. The sticky Pineapple Carpaccio is served with Passion Fruit juice and Coconut Sorbet, although the juice slips onto the table, as does the Sorbet and makes a real mess. Fortunately, the Strawberry Parfait with sweet bite size Meringues is better suited to the board, and the Cannoli is an absolute triumph. Designed by one of the kitchen’s junior chefs, it’s one of the best desserts I’ve sampled in quite some time. Crispy shells of deep-fried Pastry are filled with a delicate mix of sweetened Ricotta and Dark Chocolate chips and accompanied by scrumptious Kentish Cherries. Superb.