Hibiscus – the final farewell – TTFN

I managed to dine at the 2 Michelin Star Hibiscus before it closed for good on the 1st of October 2016 after nine years in operation. Rumour has it that the restaurant cashed in due to the ever-rising Mayfair rental prices and Chef Claude Bosi is to open new venture/adventure Bibendum in Spring of this year. The restaurant had been opened since 2000 (Claude was 27), originally in Shropshire and then in London Mayfair since 2007. Claude was only 23 when he was awarded a Michelin and managed to secure 2 at Hibiscus.

The menu is in tasting format only in the evening at £135 per head.

To kick things off we were served a sequence of amuse-bouche starting with these awesome cheese gougères dusted with parmesan which were crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. The flavour had all the positive attributes of good nutty, tart cheese.

And then onto the caramelised nuts with vinegar powder – they were pure eating pleasure and so good I think they should be illegal!

Montescondo Chianti Classico 13 £59. A mid bodied beaut – a lovely treat indeed.

Steamed buns with ricotta cheese, basil and dried parma ham – dim sum inspired but that can only be a good thing as these were lovely little things.

Foie gras cones, mango purée, caramelised sherry vinegar. The foie iced and piped onto the cone and sweetness of the mango working well with the acidity of the vinegar – it was a one bite wonder.

Amuse-bouche of egg, mushroom, coconut foam and a dusting of curry powder. It’s very clever work and delicious eating.

We were all curious as to how they managed to carve the most perfectly symmetrical openings on all of the shells. So the front of house brought out the tool from the kitchen to show us!

Pork scratchings could not be better – the final chapter of the amuse-bouche.

Now onto the tasting menu..

Scottish scallop, seaweed butter, finger lime. The richness of the butter comes through and the scallops tasted mildly cooked from its cure and the piping hot plate it was served on.

Obsiblue prawn consummé, sweetcorn and lime. The obsiblue is a blue-hued species farmed in New Caledonia, a French overseas territory in the Pacific. The result is an intense sweetness all amplified by the sweetcorn.

Line-caught seabass “grenobloise”. There’s  browned butter foam, capers, parsley, and pieces of zest. The bass didn’t have that butteriness of farmed bass but the flavour was still good, albeit it a slightly harder texture. Perhaps it could have dint with less cooking. On the base there were crushed potatoes and a crouton of sour dough which soaked up all of the flavour – they were stellar in taste & texture.

Frog’s legs, girolles, chervil, hazelnut, vin jaune. There’s more of the deeply flavoured nutty brown butter  working really well with the girolles and frog’s legs.

Scottish grouse, cauliflower mushroom, watercress, parsnip & curry. The pink grouse had all of wonderful minerality that you’d expect from game and the cauliflower mushroom was a new experience for us all.

What came with the grouse was the little skillet, fresh from the oven and filled with all of the offal and brown meat from the bird. The result was magic giving a huge savoury umami punch to the taste buds. Offal like this is my du jour and I couldn’t stop eating it.

Yellow peach, elderflower pannacotta. There is foie in this with dehydrated white peach and fresh peach. Palate cleanser 101 here and it’s a good one.

Chocolate, Indonesian basil. Hot molten chocolate, popping candy, basil ice cream – this is the holy grail of chocolate tarts. I loved every single mouthful.

Petit fours.

Mirabelle plums from from the North-Eastern French town Lorraine. Sweet and aromatic – theseI could have eaten by the bag full.

Hibiscus cream, frozen raspberries, Italian short bread. They were small but mighty.

Aerated 75% dark chocolate – this is a 2 Michelin starred Aero.

The verdict:
When did I go? Sept 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £185+ per head with wine.
The good: You can really tell there is a lot of craft, technique and experimentation here and that French application is second to none. It’s another Mayfair white table clothed institution biting the dust though along with Phil Howard’s The Square which was around for a quarter of a century. Perhaps dining trends are are pushing these over-exuberant restaurants into extinction. The sterling service was obvious to see as my dropped fork was immediately replaced. I purposely nudge it off the table the second time and it was swooped beneath before I could even blink!
The bad: It’s expensive, not quite worth the bill.
Rating: 3.5/5
Would I go again? n/a
Address: Formally of 29 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 2PA.
http://hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk

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