As you will see from the earlier post – Fairwell to Chris Staines, the Foliage is not going to be with us for that much longer in its current form. I do not know the exact date of its demise. According to our sources, the plan is to combine the space currently occupied by the Foliage and The Park Restaurant to provide a new 140 cover restaurant (Heston Blumenthals London flagship). Most of the area currently used by the Foliage will become the kitchen. A new (temporary) restaurant will be housed in the basement while this work is going on.
Update : November 2009 – Looks like the basement restaurant is not going to be temporary after all, as New York restauranteur Daniel Boulud is opening Europes first Bar Boulud restaurant in a previously unused space beneath the hotel.
Update : January 2010 – The latest information seems to be that the Foliage will be closing sometime in March.
Update : March 2010 – We attended a fairwell lunch at the Foliage, for details see post:
The only regular restaurant we ever visited in London was the Foliage. We have been going there for a number of years. Now that Chris Staines is leaving we have been on the lookout for a replacement regular lunch venue. When I say regular I mean every couple of months. You can have too much of a good thing.
In fact it was a member of the Foliage staff that recommended Launceston Place. I had not heard of the place but made a mental note to give it a try sometime. In the mean time the Great British Menu had propelled its young head chef Tristan Welch to fame. So it was with some anticipation that we visited.
At the start of the meal we were presented with a few spicy crisps tied together with a piece of ribbon bearing the restaurant name. While very cute I didn’t really enjoy starting off my meal with greasy fingers. The food was good, peaking for me with the main course of rose veal and sweetbreads. This was very good. To finish I had my first taste of Cranachan the supposedly traditional Scottish dish (I’m Scottish and had never heard of it or had it while growing up!). It was nicely presented although I suspect a traditional Scot might not recognise it. It was okay not something to rave about unfortunately.
On the way out we bumped into Tristan and had a long conversation with him. He really is a very friendly young guy and we wish him well in the future as he really is a talented chef.
Lauceston Place has 2 AA Rosettes, I suspect a third one is not too far away.
Launceston Place was also a venue on Celebrity Master Chef this year, the winner made a point of mentioning how useful her time there was. Tristan has also been a guest chef on Saturday Kitchen.
Had my last meal at my favourite London restaurant the Foliage with Chris Staines as Head Chef. Chris was in the last week of his 3 months notice before he moves onto pastures new. Heston Blumenthal will open up his first London restaurant in its place in the Mandarin Oriental in a years time.
What amazed me was that even in his last week Chris was producing simply breathtakingly stunning dishes…Respect.
Over the years I’ve had some fantastic meals at the Foliage. In fact I use it as a benchmark to judge every other restaurant I visit. The service there is exceptional and the way Chris uses flavour and texture is the mark of a true artist. I suspect that the much larger replacement restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental will not live up to the high standard set by Chris or indeed Heston at the Fat Duck.
So many celebrity chefs are going down the “franchise” route, with disastrous results. The Abode chain (Micheal Caines) being a prime example and don’t get me started on how awful Harveys is (John Burton Race).
I’d like to thank Chris and his team at the Foliage for giving us many memorable meals (It was my experience of eating at the Foliage that got me interested in food) and to wish him the very best for the future. I just wish he was staying in London as his talent will be sorely missed.
For a group booking it will be hard to beat this location, for either the glamour of the venue or the value for money.
When I went to The Park, it was with a group of 12 people, and we were choosing from an early evening set menu that included unlimited wine with the first two courses.
The food and the service were of the high standard you would expect from the Mandarin Oriental, but what really surprised us was the range of options. How many places do you know that do a set menu where 12 people can all have different desserts?.
On the down side, you do have the Mandarin bar next door, so anything you save on the food will most likely get spent on the fabulous cocktails.
You will however need to get in quick, before The Park disappears in the planned refurbishment to fit in Heston Blumenthals new London venture : see Foliage replacement – the Gossip.
On our last trip to Barcelona, we had planned to spend the Saturday evening at Moo, but could not get a table, so at short notice via toptable I made a reservation at El Raco d’en Freixa instead.
When we arrived we were taken through the attractive front room, past the Kitchen into the rather dull small backroom, yes it looked like we had got the worst table in the Restaurant.
As we often do when we first try a restaurant we went for the tasting menu. The food here is “fun” as the chef likes to play with your preconceptions. The meat course looks like a dessert, and the desert looks like meat etc. The highlight was “the burger!”.
The biggest surprise was not the food however, it was the guest at the next table who got up and came over to speak to us. Talk about a small world, it was Markus Lindner, the restaurant Manager of the Foliage in London. He was also there as a second choice, when he could not get into Comerc 24 on the Saturday evening, so definitely a touch of serendipity there.
Update : February 2009 – El Raco d’en Freixa has now been replaced by FREIXA Tradicio.