Sunday, 1 June 2008
Good food, bad photography
Yesterday morning the postman rang the doorbell to get a signature for a parcel. Inside the parcel - without any sort of accompanying letter - were our passports and all the documentation we had provided the Home Office. And inside my husband's passport was the stamp giving him indefinite leave to remain in Britain.
Clearly, we were delighted and decided that a celebration was in order. So I booked a table at Mon Plaisir, the first restaurant we had been to in London when we arrived 2 years ago. It seemed fitting. I've blogged about Mon Plaisir before but my husband is now terribly concerned that if I say too many good things or make it look too wonderful it will be inundated and we won't be able to get a table anymore and the quality will suffer. Fortunately, my photography does not do any of the dishes justice, so the murky brown pictures can stand in the way of the atmosphere being destroyed.
We ordered champagne - Laurent Perrier brut - and settled to the serious business of eavesdropping. The table behind us were a pair of sisters and one's husband, who were very drunk and very loud and made extremely unnecessary comments about the transgender woman in the elegant pink suit at the table nearby. And harassed the waitress (whose name is Maria) telling her that she wasn't pronouncing her own name properly (she puts the emphasis on the first syllable - like Mario - instead of the middle and end the way you do in Britain). And said "I don't really like pudding. I wonder if they have cheese?". Do they have cheese? It is a French restaurant, of course they have bloody cheese! Anyway, they left eventually.
I started with Tomato and olive terrine with roquefort icecream. It just goes to show what a difference someone who really knows what they are doing in the kitchen makes. The terrine itself wasn't anything special, but combined with a scoop of intensely flavoured tapenade and the sweet, milky roquefort icecream it was magic. The icecream was amazing - the flavour of the blue cheese hanging back at first and then coming in with a punch. The foie gras parfait, topped with passionfruit gelee and served with toasted brioche was, I am told, delicious. He thought the gelee was a bit distracting from the foie gras but the presentation, on a triangle of slate, was a winner.
We moved on to a bottle of chablis. I had Roast scallops with cauliflower puree, he had Dover sole meuniere. The scallops were perfect! Caramelised and brown outside, sweet, firm and juicy inside. The cauliflower puree was smooth and rich. Wafers of raw cauli and a peashoot salad added a bit of textural interest. Not too sure about the morel vinaigrette dressing - it wasn't really sharp enough to call it a vinaigrette and the morels were more of a textural presence than a flavour. I think if you are going to use an ingredient like that it should be allowed to shine. The sole was wonderful too - much meatier than you usually get, a nice amount of caramelisation on the outside gave a charcoal edge then the flesh inside was delicate and creamy.
We shared some cheese to finish - a nice piece of goat, a pretty boring hard cheese, a gloriously gooey Epoisses de Bourgogne, a creamy strong blue and something else that has slipped my mind. And then the joy of an uneventful Tube ride home because all the idiots were on the Circle Line drinking themselves sick.