This is my favorite restaurant in London.
Now, that’s a pretty bold statement to make, especially given my fleeting loyalties where food is concerned. But I think I’ve given myself ample time to make the right decision. After all, I eat out virtually everyday and I’m constantly trying new places, waiting for something to displace Medlar from that special place it holds in my heart. There was this one place that came pretty close. But after I e-mailed them my feedback – at the waiter’s request, no less – and they never got back to me, I decided, “Screw it. Medlar is the one for me.” (It’s important to treat your customers right.)
When I like something, I am always generous with my praise. I am incredibly effusive, I enthuse and I squeal… and I’m generally just really bad at playing it cool. I’m always recommending Medlar to everyone I know, even the odd cab driver on the way to Heathrow – who did go check it out in the end, thank you very much.
I don’t blame you if you doubt my credibility. After all, I am young, and perhaps my tastebuds aren’t quite as sophisticated or refined. So don’t take my word for it. Medlar received 1 Michelin star in 2013 and has tonnes of crazy good reviews, which you can check out here.
I’ve eaten there many times and each experience is just as good as the last. The food is always impeccable, both in terms of presentation and taste. I eat every single thing on my plate, even the ingredients that are foreign to me. I have tried so many new things here. For fine-dining, and for food as good as this, the portion-sizes are definitely decent and I actually leave satiated, which is more than I can say for many other restaurants I have visited.
And come on, £26 for 3 courses? If you’re like me, and you get a whole chicken and 2 sides at Nando’s, which can come up to almost £20, you will see that this is actually very, very good value indeed.
I love it so much I even had my birthday dinner there. Thanks to them, it turned out to be an incredible evening. All my friends were extremely impressed and many did pay return visits after.
My most recent visit was when I took L and A there to celebrate both their birthdays. As there were 3 of us, this meant that we got to order 3 starters, 3 entrees and 3 desserts, so I was a very happy girl.
My favorite items off the starters section of the menu are the duck egg tart and the crab raviolo. They do occasionally revise their menu, swapping out some dishes for whatever is fresh and in season, but the duck egg tart and crab raviolo are, thankfully, always on the menu. I like to bully whoever it is I am eating with into ordering one while I order the other so we can have both.
Duck egg tart with red wine sauce, turnip puree, lardons and sauteed duck heart
What I especially love about this is the red wine sauce, which has been reduced to the perfect consistency so that it is dark, rich and vaguely sweet, and so glossy that it’s almost like lacquer on your plate.
And I know it’s not polite to show you pictures of half-eaten food but I have such a thing for a golden, oozy yolk.
Finally, you can leave the restaurant saying that you tried duck heart (and that you liked it).
Crab ravioli with samphire, brown shrimps, fondue of leeks and bisque sauce
This tends to be the favorite of most people I bring here, probably because it’s the most familiar and therefore least intimidating item on the menu. Despite the crab in the filling and the accompanying sauce being a bisque, this dish is not overwhelmingly fishy, so it would go down well even with people who don’t like seafood, like my brother. And the bisque is so tasty, you will want to mop up every last bit of it with some bread.
Black bean scallop tartare with fennel, chilli, toasted sesame seeds, coriander and oyster beignet
We had a difficult time choosing a third starter, and in the end L chose this. It has obvious Asian influences in terms of the flavors but the end result is anything but a clumsy, rough-and-tumble stir-fry. The scallop was very fresh and clean-tasting. Texture-wise, it was tender and glassy, which I know sounds slightly contradictory, but anyone who has eaten really fresh seafood will know what I mean. I don’t think I had any of the oyster beignet so unfortunately I can’t comment on that hahaha (hungry dining companions)…
As a rule, I tend not to order fish when I’m out because it’s rarely worth it. But I make an exception when I come here as they do a sensational job with their fish dishes. I asked our lovely server what she would recommend between the stone bass and the monkfish and she very enthusiastically pushed the stone bass, gushing about how it tasted of the Mediterranean. Between that very poetic description and the promise of some chargrilled baby squid by way of accompaniment – which I have such a weakness for – I was completely sold.
Stone bass with artichoke barigoule, chargrilled baby squid and salsa genovese
I really loved this. The fish was meaty and perfectly cooked so that it flaked away in sizable forkfuls. I loved the chargrilled baby squid, which was firm but tender, and not in the least bit rubbery. (Then again, I am just a sucker for squid. If Medlar ever did a dish that was solely squid, I would order it in a heartbeat, no questions asked.) And I could definitely see why our server had said that this dish tasted of the Mediterranean. It had wonderfully clean, simple flavors typical of Mediterranean cooking, and the freshness of the seafood was certainly evocative of the seaside.
One staple on the entrees section is the under blade fillet and it really is one of my favorites. I think this was the most popular item amongst my friends during my birthday dinner and it’s not hard to see why.
Under blade fillet with cafe de paris snails, salad, triple-cooked chips and béarnaise
The meat is cooked to a perfect rosy medium-rare, and how can you not love the fact that it is served already sliced for you, and fanned out all pretty like that? If you’re like me and completely lacking in dining etiquette, you wouldn’t even bother cutting each slice into more manageably bite-sized pieces. You’ll just spear it with your fork, baptize it in béarnaise, eat and repeat. The meat is buttery soft and meltingly tender and pairs perfectly with the béarnaise, which is my favorite sauce for steak. The triple-cooked chips were nice and chunky, crisp on the outside and fluffy within. A really enjoyed the snails.
Another great thing about Medlar is that vegetarians will always feel very taken care of. This is not one of those restaurants that provide a tokenistic vegetarian dish as a feeble olive branch to veggies. They don’t just cut you a few slivers of beetroot, slap on some goat’s cheese and call it a day. The vegetarian options have just as much thought put into them, are crafted with just as much care, and the end results are very delicious and very satisfying.
L chose this one and I’m really glad she did! None of us are vegetarian but you don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy a cheese soufflé!!! I’ve had plenty of cheese soufflés before but I really was not expecting anything quite as beautiful as this: a puffy, golden-brown dome of deliciousness, surrounded by a hot, creamy molten moat and dotted generously with juicy pieces of cep.
Twice-baked cheese soufflé with celeriac, cèpe, salad leaves and roast chestnuts
The soufflé itself was soft and light, and didn’t have any raw egginess or overwhelming cheesiness. I really loved the cep in this. Like all other wild mushrooms, it’s much more intense in flavor, and had an almost meaty texture.
And then it was dessert time!!!!!!!! Which was particularly eggciting timez (for me) because I had asked – pestered continuously, really – for the staff to put candles into the desserts of both the birthday boy and girl by way of a surprise! Unfortunately, L knows me a bit too well, so she pretty much knew that I had something planned, and A just… reacts quickly hahaha. I think I was actually the most eggcited of the lot but then I am naturally a very eggcitable person.
But first let’s talk about the crème brûlée. Crème brûlée has always been one of my favorite desserts and the first time I tried the one done at Medlar was when I came here with F, and we both agreed that it’s the stuff of dreams. Since then I have tried my luck time and again and it had always been in vain, until this particular visit. I think I must have asked, checked and then confirmed that this was on the menu with various members of staff about 5 times in total, both on the phone and in person on the day itself.
There’s nothing quite like crème brûlée, with its gloriously burnished topping of burnt sugar, that cracks into shards with an effortless tap of your spoon to reveal the cool, creamy, custardy layer underneath…
I get so, so eggcited when I see the little black specks of vanilla bean in my desserts.
And just how oozy it is in general.
Even though A and I both love crème brûlée, we decided that ordering 2 servings of it would be too much, so we ordered 2 other desserts.
Chocolate pavé with malt ice-cream and barley brittle
As chocolate pavé is essentially a flourless chocolate cake, this was obviously very rich and decadent. The serving-size was perfect given how dense it was. I wasn’t a huge fan of the barley brittle though it was an interesting idea. (I’m a good-ol’-nut-brittle kind of girl.) I think the malt flavor of the ice-cream ought to have been a bit stronger but maybe it’s just because I like malt.
The next dessert I loved. I had to get it because it reminded me of what I would like to think is the best dessert I have ever had at Medlar – the passionfruit tartlet with coconut ice-cream and tuile - that I got on my first ever visit here. I distinctly remember making friends with a lady in the loos as we raved about that passionfruit tartlet…
This was slightly different but it was arguably even better.
Passion fruit meringue tart with coconut ice-cream and lime
I love a good lemon curd tart but a passion fruit meringue tart is so much better. The flavors in this dessert – passion fruit, lime and coconut – are very tropical and work really well together. The end result is so bright and refreshing. What you get is a dessert that is both filling and satisfying but neither heavy nor stodgy, a brilliant way to end a meal.
And I loved the little dollops of torched meringue on top. As you can see from the photos below, the meringue wasn’t over-baked and still had a lovely soft-set wave to it, perfect with the cool, creamy and slightly tangy passion fruit curd.
The coconut ice-cream didn’t taste as strongly of coconut as I would’ve liked but I think that’s only because I was comparing it to the sort of coconut ice-cream we get in Southeast Asia.
At the end of the meal, while you sit back and revel in the intense pleasure of the beautiful meal you have just had, you will be presented with some delicious handmade treats. (Please, I beseech you, do act surprised, as though you haven’t already read this.)
It’s the little things like this that make this place stand out. (And no, I’m not just saying that because I am a gullible cheapskate whose integrity sometimes wavers when faced with free food.) This is one place that really makes the customer feel like he matters, and you feel well and truly taken care of throughout your meal.
Not to mention that the service is stellar. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable about the food and take pride in their work. When you’re reading the menu, don’t be intimidated by any ingredients that sound unfamiliar, as the staff would be more than happy to explain them and offer their advice, and do so competently and patiently without being the least bit patronizing.
For the benefit of A, who told me that he only looks at the photos in my posts, I will now end this off with a whole slew of pictures that I have accumulated from previous visits to Medlar. This should give you a pretty good idea of the sort of food that is done here.
Duck egg tart
Ricotta Gnocchi with confit pink fir potatoes,
parsley puree and rocket
Roast wood pigeon, foie gras,
crepe parmentier, shallot purée
Roast grouse with game chips,
bread sauce, pâté and damsons
(I cannot for the life of me remember what this was)
Red wine-braised octopus w roast cod,
crisp Indian pastry, borlotti and frisee
(I think this octopus was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten here.)
Roast cod, mussels
Under blade fillet, snails, triple-cooked chips
Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Blueberry Compote,
Langues de chat
Chocolate delice w milk ice-cream,
griottine cherries and pistachios
Chocolate tart with pistachio ice-cream and grapes
Passion fruit tartlet with coconut ice-cream and tuile
I really hope you are now well and truly convinced to go check it out if you haven’t already! It’s now or never, ladies and gents! Or dare I say, now or Medlar?!?! HAHAHA.
438 Kings Road
Everyday from 12PM to 3PM and 630PM to 1030PM