Before properly starting this article, let me shortly digress. I’ve been thinking quite a lot about this blog lately and where I wanted to take it and I wanted to share my thoughts.
I’m lucky to be able to try out new places quite frequently (my bank account might even say too frequently) but I rarely feel the urge of sharing the experience. I realised that this urge would only rise when I’m having gastronomic experiences that triggered emotions.
The other day Louis and I were out at Boca Di Lupo and he suggested I write an article about the place but I didn’t feel like it. Overall, it felt like the food and experience were not worth the “investment” of time and energy. Don’t get me wrong, we had a lovely meal, but that was it. It didn’t feel special enough that I wanted to keep a record of it.
So what’s the goal of this blog then? I think I want this place to be a medium to document my gastronomic journey/education. There are so many chefs I need to experience and I want to remember it all. I want to get better at articulating the emotions and tastes I experience through their dishes. I also want to start sharing more of my food and get better at food photography. I will be happy to just be able come to this space and see the evolution of my journey and if my experience motivates more people to try some of the coolest places I’ve been to, then I’ll be even happier.
Now onto the real topic at hand. Adam Handling. Yes, him again.
If you’ve been paying attention to previous blog posts you might think I’ve gone mad, or ran out of ideas and decided to write again about his place in Shoreditch: Frog E1. Not.at.all. He just opened up a new restaurant in Covent Garden named… Frog by Adam Handling. Original.
Louis knew how much I loved our experience last time. Even the few hiccups in the service didn’t manage to lower my enthusiasm, so he decided to book a table at his new Covent Garden place.
This restaurant is definitely more “fine dining” than the Shoreditch venue and the design of the place is exactly everything I like. A beautifully designed space, relaxed mood and staff but high quality food. I also loved that they kept the open kitchen concept from the other restaurant. The chef was in his kitchen and you could see him work his magic.
Seeing that the dishes we already had before had a new twist to them we decided to go for the 5 courses tasting menu (and a pescatarian option for me). For dessert I went for the mandarin and Louis the chocolate.
The menu started with a set of 3 snacks. The first 2 were similar to the ones we had a Frog E1 but with some changes.
Louis had a beef tartare with seaweeds and anchovies and I had a vegetarian version with an heirloom tomatoes tartare and basil. This was followed by the smoked cod, creme fraiche and caviar. Even though we already had that snack; it was still as good as we remembered it, with the little taste of tarama I loved.
The 3rd snack was a a razor clam with hazelnuts. Its spectacular look, on a bed of smoke, never failed to attract the attention of new tables when being served (but it was also very tasty and delicate).
Little side note on the crockery because we couldn’t stop admiring it throughout the dinner. The glasses were a joy to drink from with one of the thinest glass I’ve ever seen, and the plates were just so beautiful that we kept trying to check the bottom to see where they were from. They’re custom made in Belgium for the restaurant so unfortunately I won’t be able to find them anywhere.
The first course was a mackerel with radish and dill. A new version of the heavenly mackerel from E1 (my favourite dish from that dinner). It looked stunning (my picture doesn’t do it justice so check AH’s picture here ) and was delicious but I still had a preference for the E1 version.
The second course was another remastered version of an E1 dish: Celeriac, apple and dates but with truffle this time. I usually don’t like celeriac but the mix of tastes in this dish is amazing. The sweetness of the dates and apple works so well with the celeriac and the lemon and the truffle adds a little extra twist.
I loved that chefs brought some of the courses to tell us more about the dishes just like they did in E1. Apparently, this one is dedicated to the chef’s mother who’s a vegetarian. They were also quit generous with the truffle (and I was not one to complain)!
Course number 3 was my favourite. It was titled halibut, crab and caviar and it revealed to be as delicious as the name hinted it would be.
The piece of halibut was resting on a bed of crab with some caviar on top. The fish was tender from a perfect cooking but the real star of the dish, in my opinion, was the broth. For some reason this dish reminded me of something but I never managed to figure out what. Somehow the tastes stirred up memories I couldn’t place which was weird but very pleasant. Like eating something I forgot I liked.
Even though it wasn’t on the 5 course tasting menu we also got the potato and caviar dish. I definitely need to get better at taking pictures in the relative darkness of restaurants because the photo does not do justice to the dish once again.
The contrast between the blackness of the caviar and the whiteness of the mashed potatoes and the plate was beautiful. Taste wise, I loved the association of the two product and the mix of textures. Mixing the modest potatoes with the indulgent caviar was definitely a good idea.
Back to the tasting menu (or not exactly as I asked for a pescatarian option) with the octopus, sour cream, black garlic and dulse. To be honest I was, by that dish, too full to properly appreciate it but it was yet again perfectly executed.
Even though I was really full by then, desserts always get me excited and I had opted for quite a fresh one with the mandarin, madeleines (yes, them again, you can read more about my love for madeleines here) and clove with a passion fruit sorbet and champagne jelly. I was excited from the minute I heard the description. It was a good dessert but I wasn’t such a big fan of the clove so when I managed to avoid it, I was happy.
Louis opted for the chocolate dessert which was a big hit among us but maybe a bit too heavy after such a big meal. It was really beautiful though and I loved the different textures.
As if we didn’t have enough, we also got the pleasure to try the mango, cheesecake and coconut dessert. I don’t like coconut but I really enjoyed this. It wasn’t too sweet and the cheesecake was deconstructed with another very interesting game of textures. On one side you had a “grilled” mango jelly on a cloud that reminded me of a blanc-mangé and on the other side the cream cheese and sablé sticks (and look at that gorgeous plate!). Just perfect.
After eating about 1 million calories that were totally worth it, we left Frog by Adam Handling with a big smile and a book so I can try a few recipes at home.
A massive thank you to the whole team. That was absolutely perfect from beginning to end!
Frog by Adam Handling – 34-35 Southampton St, London WC2E 7HF
5 course tasting menu – 65£ / 8 course tasting menu – 80£