Arrived at the restaurant half an hour before the booking. Although our table wasn't ready they welcomed us into the bar and invited us to order drinks. Although at this point we were felt trepidation at the menu to come, the atmosphere was so relaxed this unease melted away quickly. The aperitifs were brought over and we knew the experience had started. Presented to us were Nitroglycerine cola, custard cream shots and one, simply and curiously entitled 'tap water.' 'What on earth is to come' we asked ourselves.
As we drained our drinks we were escorted to the dining room with a veritable army of waiting staff standing by to ensure our comfort at every moment of the experience. The sommelier came over to offer his suggestions as we had opted for the surprise £160 tasting menu.
First up - Reduction of Triangle of Cheese Sandwich, with Cheese. An amazing twist on a tried and tested classic, Hester has reduced the traditional cheese sandwich. Astonishingly all the flavours of the larger model were retained in this exquisite reworking of cheese.
To follow- Flowers in a Pot
Flowers in a Pot is another amazing twist, this time on flowers, in a pot. Brought to the table in its organic state, the bitter leaves compliment the soil beautifully, the earthy flavours staying in the mouth even after the last morsel.
Next up the infamous Non-Snail Porridge
A signature dish which Hester has included on the tasting menu forever. Porridge never tasted more like porridge.
Then followed Sound of the Sink.
This was an amazing twist on an amazing twist, although rendered slightly disappointing by what appeared to be the return of the miniature cheese sandwich. When we enquired about this, Hester came out of the kitchen and flatly denied it.
Next came Boiled Egg Bonbon: masterful in its simplicity.
When cut open it revealed an egg, perfectly boiled, symmetrically aligned and enrobed in sausagemeat. How he consistently comes up with this synergy of imagination and ingredients is to be wondered at.
Next on the list...the cheese course (£7 supplement)
Hester has designed the entire cheese course to resemble something you might buy from a supermarket: genius.
Next was A Memory of Iced Tea
What a twist on a twist on a twist! This one, a palette cleanser, goes right back to basics, using just the raw ingredients foraged earlier that morning.
Rhubarb Three Ways...
This complex, tiered dessert needs to be ordered in advance by the whole table. It is complex and tiered.
An enjoyable evening, this is definitely one to watch.