They say that it is important to make a good first impression. There are all sorts of ways that a restaurant can make a first impression, it could be through interesting architecure or decor (posh, shabby chic, etc.) or it could be through the atmosphere (the music playing, the greeting from the staff). As we approached Skye Gingell’s Spring Restaurant last week, nestled proudly in the New Wing of London’s Somerset House, we couldn’t but fail to be impressed.
The stunning Georgian architecture of Somerset House is a fabulous location for the kind of restaurant that matches the food that Gingell wants to serve – classical and elegant. As you walk through into the dining room it is like being transported through time to the Regency period, high-ceilings and sumptuous decor all aid this sentiment. The waiting staff have a sort of “Italian sailor” vibe going on, not overly formal but certainly stylish. Given the Italian influence in Gingell’s food it seemed rather appropriate.
We started our meal with a cocktail, I chose their Balsamic Martini because I am obsessed with martinis at the moment. This particular one featured Chase Vodka, Cocchi Vermouth, Honey and Saporoso Balsamic Vinegar. This was a superbly balanced cocktail, with the honey and balsamic giving a real sweetness to the drink, which was nicely balanced against the alcohol.
For my starter I opted for the Salt Cod Brandade with Fennel Seeds, Confit Meyer Lemon and White Polenta. At first I wasn’t very impressed with this, but as I ate it I started to understand and appreciate it more and more. My initial reservation was on just how salty the cod was, I found it a little too much for my palate – but that was when I tried it on its own. I came to the realisation that the genius behind this dish was that you needed all of the elements of the dish together to make it work and then it really did come together. The creaminess of the polenta and the tang of the lemon added together to the cod became something rather beautiful. This really was a very clever dish.
On to the main course now and I opted for something that I knew would be a winner: Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Carrots, Walnuts, Ginger, Kale and Cumin Salsa Verde. When they said “slow roasted” on the menu, they really weren’t kidding! This was almost “pulled” in its texture and yet there was the most delectable crunch of crackling sat proudly atop the meat. This was also impressive in the fact that it was no haute-cuisine small portion, this was a really decent hunk of meat that appealled to my inner cave-man! The carrot puree that this was served with had a nice sweetness to it. I am not the biggest fan of kale, but this was cooked in a nice way so that it retained a bit of crunch to it. I was very happy with this dish.
To go with the main course we ordered a bottle of 2009 “The Zumma” Chardonnay from Crittenden Estate (Mornington Penninsula, Australia). In the glass the wine had a nice deep gold colour to it, suggesting its age. On the nose the fragrance was aromatic and beautiful, it had that characteristic grassy chardonnay note along with some faint coconut notes. When tasted the first thing that I noticed was how fresh with acidity the wine still was, despite its age. The acidity gave the wine a lovely freshness that was a good match for the fatty pork. Quality: 8.0; Value: 7.0.
For once I decided against going for the cheese to finish and opted instead for the Etna Mandarin Sorbet served with Meringue, Ginger and Jersey Cream. Once more I was stuck by the cleverness of this dish – the cool temperature of the acidic sorbet was juxtaposed brilliantly against the intense piquant heat of the ginger, which was all offset by the richness of the cream. Wonderful. To accompany I ordered a glass of a delightfully light and playful 2014 Moscato d’Asti from La Morandina (Piedmont, Italy).
Overall this was a very pleasing meal. The setting, the ambience, the food, the wine and the service all combined nicely to make for a rather wonderful evening. I would heartily recommend trying out this restaurant.
Spring Restaurant, Somerset House, New Wing, Lancaster Place, London, WC2R 1LA
+44 (0)20 3011 0115
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