Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Loft Project - Nuno Mendes


I had my birthday in July and some of my lovely friends treated me to a night at The Loft Project to celebrate, with the chef being Nuno Mendes no less. Such sweet friends and I love them for it.

The skies were pouring but being greeted with a glass of bubbly upon arriving was received positively.

We had the chance to mingle around and I loved the venue. Nestled in an apartment, it was warm and inviting. I love that we could just walk around the kitchen and talk to the chefs and observing them going about their preparations.

I spied the first course which looked like beef carpaccio to me but was told that it was watermelon. Amazing, I couldn't wait for the meal to start.

Watermelon sashimi
Watermelon sashimi

The first course was of course the watermelon sashimi. Thin-cut slices of watermelon that has been worked to a texture that was smooth and slippery quite like red meat. Drizzled with a dressing of sesame, garlic and wasabi, it was such an innovative way or interpretation of Japanese sashimi. The wasabi provided a kick to the palate while grated daikon radish shavings lends a refreshing taste and texture to the watermelon. I love it, this is really amazing and I could eat it all day all the time.

Periwinkles with Seaweed and thickened milk
Periwinkles with Seaweed and thickened milk

Next to arrive were these tiny periwinkles. "It’s the furikake, it makes all the difference" says Nuno Mendes while I was next to him observing with wonder.

I was reminded of the sea as I ate this. The natural taste of salt reminiscence of when you accidentally taste seawater was a nice contrast to the periwinkles and the deep mineral rich taste of seaweed. The tiny seeds add a nice crispy crunch.

Bread n butter
Bread n butter
Third course which is a staple at Viajante is this bread and butter. Potato baguettes waiting to be smothered with the rich brown butter, I had such fond memories when I first tried it that I had to master some serious self control not to consume the entire platter.

Delicious is all I can say, how do you say no to butter that has been whipped until it is light as air. Melt-in-your mouth sensation the moment it touches warmth to a light liquid that is rich, buttery, creamy, savoury and salty at the same time.

Mackerel, lettuce emulsion, acidulated Cherries
Mackerel, lettuce emulsion, acidulated Cherries

I've had lettuce many times but how is it like when emulsified? It intensifies the bitterness and refreshing elements. What are acidulated cherries? I don't know but all I can say is they were good!

prepping potato spaghetti

potato spaghetti
Potato spaghetti, furikake, egg roe, dashi

Out came what appears to be pasta but pasta it was not. The strands were made from potatoes that were pickled as the final step. The result? Crunchy and al dente potatoes with the perfume of furikake adding another dimension to the eating experience.

Octopus, braised pinenuts, Yoghurt, preserved lemons
Octopus, braised pinenuts, Yoghurt, preserved lemons

The braised pinenuts are just amazing and is the star element here. It lends a hint of sweetness to the unusual texture of the octopus which instead of the usual chewy texture that you would expect, this was like meat that has been stewed for hours.

Ocean trout, fennel, radish, cucumber
Ocean trout, fennel, radish, cucumber

The trout is extremely soft and tender with just enough texture. The radish and cucumber provides a good flavour contrast. There was just a touch of over seasoning as it was a little salty at the end.

Pig tail, sticky cereal, Pecan mole, baby turnip
Pig tail, sticky cereal, Pecan mole, baby turnip

Say chocolate and my eyes lit up. When I heard that this was with mole, I was excited. Mole is a Central & South American dish that is made using chocolate and spices that is more savoury and bitter.  I've only had mole once when a Sydney friend of mine made it for me.

Nuno's version is quite different. There wasn't any hint of the rich spices and taste of chocolate. This was light and slightly sweet. It may be different but went very well with the braised pig tail. It was very strange indeed to be eating meat that is not from the usual parts that one is used to but Nuno made an excellent job of this.

prepping dessertSorrel cake, dried meringue, strawberries fresh and burned

I thoroughly enjoyed the night. The long communal table allowed mingling with other diners and sharing our opinions and experiences only made the night better. I will say that this was much better than when I dined at Viajante which was more muted in comparison.

The heavy Japanese influence was noted in all the dishes bar dessert but it all worked so well and none was anything I've had anywhere else in London. Truly creative and experimentative. The Loft Project is not cheap but is a unique experience.   I say save up, browse the website and find a chef that intrigues you, and book it for a special occasion

Will I recommend: YES YES YES
Will I come back: YES YES YES
Have I had better: No

Edible Experiences

1 comment:

  1. I loved my meal at the Loft Project as well. Much preferred the food and intimate setting actually to Viajante.


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