Supreme Sturia Caviar Dinner at the Balcon, Sofitel London St James
I have been fortunate enough over recent months to have had opportunities to enjoy some really fine haute cuisine. Even then, every once in a while, an opportunity presents itself that would evoke a wow factor from the most discerning, knowledgeable patron. Such was the occasion and sampling from Sturia that leads to that bold statement.
I didn’t hesitate to accept when a press event invitation arrived to attend a 4 course Caviar Tasting Dinner at The Balcon, London St James, hosted by Sturia (the flagship brand of Sturgeon which is the leading French Caviar producer). Sturia couldn’t have picked a better venue for the occasion – the restaurant has a stylish, sophisticated and elegant ambience with superbly consistent excellent service. We used the private dining room off the main restaurant for the occasion, which carried through the outlook and atmosphere exuding from the surroundings.
A champagne reception preceded allowing us to exchange formalities and get to know each other. A fantastic introductory talk was given by Laurent Dulau, Directeur Général de Sturia. How often do we taken for granted these delicacies that tempt our palate? The talk allowed us to understand the provenance, longevity and maturation required together with pioneering techniques used by Sturia to enhance and maximise quality. Laurent ably provided answers to all of the aforementioned processes with a passion and encyclopaedic knowledge that underscored the very essence of this unrivalled premium product. How appropriate that the Primeur, Origin and Mature varieties were on hand to sample as a stand alone before dinner. I particularly loved the creaminess and subtly lingering aftertaste of the Origin (from 8 months).
I have never, in my recollection, been more flummoxed at first glance of the menu. There were some starkly bold combinations that stretched the imagination when it came to potentially successful pairing. ”Oh ye of little faith” I was later to chastise myself after one of the most successfully inventive and creative meals I have ever partaken of courtesy of Matt Greenwood, Executive Chef at the Balcon.
We started off with Caviar Consomme (Caviar Jasmin) Soft quail egg and cauliflower creamy soup. The resplendent creaminess and softness of the quail egg against the delicate low salt content and freshness of Jasmin which has Primeur characteristics looked and tasted sublime, an utter treat to the palate. The next dish to make its appearance was Caviar Yoghurt (Caviar Primeur) Medium-rare red mullet filet, native oysters, citrus juice pearls. Oceanic awesomeness would be an apt description. The meaty fishiness of the dish against the ultra creamy texture coupled with a definitive taste of fresh hazelnut would satisfy the most hardened and discerning fish lover.
Enter the pasta element of the dinner with the next dish being Caviar Cannelloni (Caviar Oscietra Grand Cru) Steamed sea bass with lemongrass, roasted melon. Another perfectly attuned pairing though I marginally preferred the red mullet dish through sheer personal preference. Now for the very interesting bit – myself and fellow diners were all intensely intrigued to see how meat and fish with caviar would synchronise where our taste buds were concerned. The dish itself was Caviar Velvet (Caviar Origin) Veal filet saute, pressed vegetables, I think the overall vote was a positive reception though I am still undecided as every mouthful gave me a different outlook!
I always reserve a new paragraph specifically for dessert as I have no qualms in admitting I’m a Dessert Diva! The dessert was unrivalled and so clever with its combinations of texture and tones. Champagne & Caviar (Caviar Vintages) – sounds simple however now put it in the context of Chocolate Ecuador ganache quenelle. Imagine mouthfuls of thick dark high-quality chocolate with swirls of champagne and caviar bubbles – decadence, sophistication and artistry stretched to new measures. Highly, highly original and a wonderful way to finish off a meal with such panache and creativity. Team, coffee and mignardises were also available for those with any room left and it was great to see the chef coming in after the meal receiving such plaudits from the caviar experts.
This was a special meal from all angles. The company was wonderfully convivial and eloquent – the luxurious element was stamped on every course. It was a journey into the unknown, a journey however that brought out new perspectives on the horizon, a journey of warmth and camaraderie, a journey beyond all else of delicious discovery.
Finally, I would like to send my gratitude to all parties involved for a delectable, sumptuous evening which was wonderfully hosted and an absolute pleasure to attend.
For a review of the standard menu at Balcon please read our recent report about dining at Sofitel London St James. Sturia Caviar is available on the menu at Balcon
Sofitel London St James’s
6 Waterloo Place
Sofitel London St James’s
6 Waterloo Place