We were accommodated in the restaurant’s private room which has ample space for more than 20 diners and is reached by elevator.
Proceedings started with a Club favourite, Bellavista 'Alma' Cuvee Brut NV (Lombardy, Italy), which might best be described as a cost effective Italian response to champagne. It is attractively pale yellow in colour, with green reflections. Fine, elegant yet rounded and beautifully balanced, the grapes used are 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero and the bubbles are small and long-lasting.
Wine spokesman (for the first time) Vernon Johnson shared with us of experiencing his first sampling of wine, a Chateau Lafite, collected from a local drugstore without knowing its provenance or reputation but much enjoyed. He confessed not to be a fan of sparkling wines but this one had made a great start for the meal.
Our first starter course was Beef Tartare, made from Simmentaler Beef (from Switzerland) served with a Mustard Tartar Sauce, Potato Sorbet and Cannelloni of Bacon. It was a very different Beef Tartare to my expectation and one heartily endorsed by Food Spokesman Mark Guthrie, who gave us a brief overview of the history and many common variations of this iconic dish.
The second starter was a Monkﬁsh fillet served with a medley of Organic Tomato, Tarragon, Chive, Basil, Shallot and Parsley. It was an expertly prepared dish and the vegetables and herbs beautifully complemented the sweet taste and firm texture of the Monkfish - which some have called “a poor man’s lobster”.
Both starters were well paired with magnums of Claude Riffault Sancerre Les Boucauds 2018 (Loire, France), which for me was the wine of the lunch. Ageing of the Sauvignon Blanc lasts 7 to 8 months, when the wine was bottled before the arrival of summer. On the nose, the wine revealed aromas of white fleshed fruit and citrus and tastes including gooseberry, grapefruit, lime, and melon. Vernon thought the pairing was good and an enjoyable full-bodied wine.
Thomas Boedinger had chosen Renieri Brunello di Montalcino 2013 (Tuscany, Italy) to accompany this. Suckling had rated this 98 but a more realistic score of 92 came from Parker: “The 2013 Brunello reveals dark colour intensity with bold aromas of black cherry and plum that taste grounded and integrated within the thick texture of the wine. This is a centred and balanced effort that delivers the power and the firm structure of the vintage.” It was much appreciated, not least by Vernon.
Following the main, we enjoyed a Brie de Meaux stuffed with truffle and served with Figs, Guava, Apricot, Nut Bread and Apple Syrup. Mark was especially impressed with the spicy Nut Bread, whose cinnamon notes and nutty crunch were particularly nice with the rich cheese, truffle, and fruit flavours.
At some point during the cheese course, we migrated from the Brunello to Elvio Cogno Barolo Casina Nuova 2013 (Piemonte, Italy). An independent critic said “Bright red cherry, plum, sweet flowers, white pepper all give the Cascina Nuova its distinctive, bright profile. The tannins are naturally a bit raw at this early stage, but the Cascina Nuova is a superb entry-level wine with plenty of Ravera character”. Parker gave it 93 well deserved points. Vernon enjoyed this also but remarked it was a little dry for his taste.
Michelin starred Chef Henk Savelberg’s signature dessert dish followed, which he has named a Forest Mushroom. Its presentation was spectacular, looking much like the iconic (and poisonous) Amanita muscaria that had sprouted from the forest floor, but the taste experience was heavenly.
The dish features an extensive list of ingredients and techniques that confirm the craftsmanship displayed by the Chef, including: White Chocolate Glaze, Vanilla Mousse, Cherry, Yogurt Crispy, Yogurt Mousse, Pistachio Sponge Cake, Chocolate Crumble, Cherry Mousse, Cherry & Yuzu Gel, and Marshmallow. It was a feast for the eyes and the palate.
We have to thank our sole guest, Hans van Born from the Thai-Dutch Chamber of Commerce, for a round of grappa that followed. Finally it was time to thank our hosts for a most enjoyable meal. Alan Rankin rose to the occasion to pass on our appreciation in customary style. The restaurant will move soon to Soi Yen Akat and we wish Henk and his team a successful move to their new pastures.