Sometimes there are restaurants that you aren’t aware of and then suddenly you find that you see references to it all the time. Trivet is one of those places. It feels like my Instagram feed has been full of posts from people either raving about the food there, or attending incredible looking wine events. So, when I was looking for a place to go to for a nice lunch with my wife a week or so ago, this was the first place that I looked into. As soon as I looke at the website I knew that we had to go there. It’s run by Jonny Lake, ex of The Fat Duck; it got its first Michelin star last year; and had a wine list that just looked incredible – which you’d expect as it’s been pulled together by Isa Bal who is another Fat Duck alumnus. Having eaten at The Fat Duck several years ago (you can read that post here), I knew that seeing these two stars involved in a new restaurant that it had to be worth checking out.
The restaurant is located in Bermondsey, only five minutes walk from London Bridge station. It is brightly lit and features some interesting and memorable art pieces on the wall. As we walked in, Jonny greeted us, which was a very nice touch. The menu at Trivet is quite a simple affair in a way. It is based on a quite straightforward: starter, main, dessert format. Now, I do like my tasting menus – but there was something refreshing about this format. We visited on Friday 28 October, which just happened to be International Champagne Day, so I decided that we’d better have a glass to celebrate whilst we were making our menu choices. We each took a glass of the NV Cuvée Pierre Moncuit-Delois Brut (Grand Cru) which was a producer that I didn’t know, but I’ve got to say I was very impressed with. It is a Grand Cru Champagne so you expect good things, but I was really taken by the poise and beauty of this wine!
When it came to the starter, I went for the Cured Sea Bass and Red Gurnard with Toasted Barley and Cornsilk Mustard and Ginger Salsify, and Quinoa Cracker. The title of the dish is a bit of a mouthful, but if you take one look at the plate (right) you will see that it looked very simple on the plate. I was taken by two things straight away in this dish: firstly, to serve the fish cured – it is such a brave way of serving up these beautiful ingredients; secondly, choosing to show two different fish so that you could really taste the difference between them. I found the Gurnard to be slightly richer and meatier, whereas the Sea Bass was slightly cleaner and lighter. The herb crust around the fish was beautifully fragrant and complemented the cured fish neatly. Alongside the lovely fish I was really taken by the mustardy salsify, whch had a nice bit of crunch to it, acting as a good counterpoint. This was one of those wonderful dishes that was at once simple and complex. I loved it!
Next up my wife and I were both immediately drawn to the same dish: the somewhat enigmatically titled ‘The Best Friend of White Burgundy’. The menu explained that this dish contained Monkfish, Girolles and Roast Chicken Beurre Blanc. The concept is kind of self-evident – start with a wine style in mind and then come up with a combination of ingredients and flavours that perfectly complement it. That’s my kind of cooking! In this instance they’d decided to go after a bit of a blockbuster of a wine – white Chardonnay – and specifically looking to reflect those richer, slightly more complex notes that you get from the more southern examples (like a Côte de Beaune), as opposed to a more taut, mineralic Chablis-style. The monkfish was just beautiful – meaty, fishy, delicious; and importantly big – just look how big those pieces of fish were! The girolles added texture and fragrance, but the coup-de-graces was the roast chicken beurre blanc, picking out that richness from the butter/chicken combo that was crying out for some wine – more on that soon! Alongside this stunner of a dish we order some great sides: Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Isot Pepper Dressing and Homemade French Fries with Onion Ketchup. The broccoli was easily the best I’ve ever had, slightly charred and served with a brilliant mustard dressing.
So, what did we drink with the ‘best friend of white Burgundy’? Well, we did go for a Chardonnay, we kind of had to; but we decided to go rogue and order a bottle of the 2019 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay from Napa. I went for this as we have just booked flights to California for next year and I am already excited for the trips that we will make to Napa and Sonoma! I’ve been fascinated by Montelena wines for quite a while. They famously won the best bottle of white in the 1976 Judgement of Paris, beating the best wines from Burgundy – so if our dish was the best friend to white Burgundy, then presumably it would be an even better friend to a bottle of Montelena Chardonnay! On the nose, the wine was really opulent and rich, but still had a slight grassiness to it. The primary notes I picked out were tropical fruit notes of mango and passion fruit, it it did have that slight lick of buttery richness to it. On the palate it was beautifully fresh and clear, but underneath it was a real power and tension. I thought there was a touch of minerality and stony peach going on, which gave the wine a nice drive. (Disclaimer: I did write down notes of ‘wet pebble’, but that is so horrendous that I can’t bear to actually put it in the notes for real!). This was a simply stunning wine, the nose was one that you just wanted to keep going back to over and over again. It was a great match for the dish and we were very happy with it. Now to sort out that visit to Chateau Montelena for our visit next year!
We did take a look at the dessert menu, but if I’m honest we were absolutely stuffed – it was only a lunch so we couldn’t stomach (literally) any more. However, I was determined to sweeten my palate a little so I went for a Rum Baba and a glass of Armagnac, which was an excellent way to end the meal. I have really got into Cognacs and Armagnacs over the last couple of years and really enjoy them as a digestif – much prefer them to a whisky, if I’m honest. This felt like a suitably resplendent way to end this glorious meal and set us up for our next appointment with Monsieur Cézannes in the Tate!
So, what are my reflections on Trivet? Overall I would say that it just felt effortlessly good. Compared to the show and theatre of The Fat Duck, this was quality food, cooked intelligently with a good sense of what it was trying to do. There was flair and style in abundance, but it was done in an under-the-radar, understated way that just made your heart sing. There’s a real self-confidence to this kind of food. The result is a dining experience that is enjoyable from a hedonistic perspective above all other things. The staff were fabulous and perfectly understood that balance between taking you on the journey with them, but without overcrowding you so that the result still felt like an intimate dining experience. I will definitely be looking forward to returning here in the future and would recommend that you visit if you haven’t yet!