The New British Larder – Seasonal Menus from Nigel Mendham at Dukes’ St James:
“Martinis at 7pm”. How those few words make my heart sing. Especially when the Martinis in question come from Alessandro Palazzi, the head barman at Dukes’, just off St James, and the world’s leading Martini mixologist. Ian Fleming used to be a regular at the bar at Dukes’ and would have enjoyed the seriousness with which Alessandro approaches his art. He mixes me a truffle Martini that layers the tongue with seductive tones of the boscy fungus before delivering a tsunami of alcohol that simultaneously numbs and enervates the brain. Have one, have two, don’t have three or I shan’t be held responsible for your actions …
Fortunately for my sobriety I’m not just at Dukes’ to sink Martinis but to celebrate the launch of chef Nigel Mendham’s New British Larder menu at the hotel’s’ signature restaurant, THIRTY SIX. I’m something of an expert at celebrating and Nigel’s food is just the ticket. I say my fond goodbyes to Alessandro and head down into the elegantly comfortable restaurant space.
Nigel is one of the unsung heroes of British food and his new menu is a paean to seasonality and locality, showcasing classic British dishes with quirky yet comforting twists.
After some rather delicious snacks of Parmesan swirls and popcorn it was time to drink some more. A refreshing glass of 2014 Verdejo Naia from Rueda in Spain with notes of lime and kiwi was the perfect match for my starter, a beautifully balanced dish of a rich broccoli cream cut through by pine nuts and goat curd.
Whilst the carnivores dug into their whole roast partridge (disclaimer-I nicked some of their bread sauce and game chips but it would have been churlish not to) I scoffed down my beautifully presented dish of roast cod, asparagus, mushrooms and hazelnut-the fish was a little overdone for my taste but the flavours were excellent. The accompanying Sileni Estates Cellar Selection Pinot Noir, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand had a definite cherry zing to it and was light enough to go with the fish.
Our dessert was based on apples from the National Apple Centre at Brogdale Farm; apple sorbet with goat’s curd and compressed able sorbet. This couldn’t have been more seasonal and was the perfect end to a great dinner, the acidity of the apples was softened by the luscious, honeyed notes of a 2009 Domaine de Grange Neuve, Monbazillac.
I really like the sound and flavours of Nigel’s new menu and look forward to sampling his take on upcoming seasonal treats like lobster thermidor, pineapple ‘upside down’ cake and coconut custard . Now for another martini…
The new British Larder Menu at THIRTY SIX By Nigel Mendham has just been launched with dishes starting at £8.00.
For more information or to make a reservation at Thirty Six By Nigel Mendham please call 020 7491 4840 or visit www.dukeshotel.com