Every year three friends and I have Christmas lunch somewhere suitably British and festive; this year it was decided that Tredwell's, Marcus Wareing's new non-fine dining establishment, was the venue of choice. Others in the running included Chiltern Firehouse (oddly couldn't get a table with a week's notice!) and the new Ivy Market Grill. We'd done the actual Ivy last year, so the decision was made and off to Tredwell's we trotted.
From hazy memory, I think the building used to house some very dodgy bar/club that I had the misfortune to go to once, but happily now it is three floors of noisy, glossy, laid back restaurant that you can settle into and stay for hours and hours because its so much fun. Start with cocktails as it would be a crying shame not to; our's arrived speedily, adorned with pretty little touches. The Sider Cart (apple cider brandy, kummel, lemon and fig) slipped down particularly easily as we consulted the menu:
We basically wanted everything available. Marcus Wareing does not cook here, but that did nothing to abate our enthusiasm for the little nibbly bits of chorizo jam and 'charred bread' (deep deep smokey sweet molten chorizo); the tiny pulled pork slider or the courgette fritters with pine nut butter. The chorizo jam was a clear winner and was a giant portion for £5, unlike the other 'Snacks' which were rather meagre:
Appetites very much whetted, we turned our attention to the starters. From reading reviews when Tredwell's first opened it seems they had more of a 'small plates' focus to the menu - which received a mixed reception - but it now follows the starter / main format and we were just being characteristically greedy in munching on the jam et al. first. So, for starters I went for the slow cooked salmon with cauliflower and spirulina (pictured in the title shot) principally because on Masterchef: The Professionals, Marcus is always fine about the contestants sous viding and confiting their salmon but the critics always claim it takes on the texture of cotton wool if slow cooked. I wanted to see who was right, and I'm in Marcus's camp. Sure, it changes the texture of the fish, but its a texture I for one like. The spirulina, not so much. I used to work in health and nutrition and have tried spirulina many times in many different guises but I can't get past the taste of lawn mower clippings and pond water, and even with the beautiful salmon and little cauliflower florets it was just foul.
The prawns on white polenta, garlic and broth was the best starter of the bunch. The flavours were quite remarkable in terms of how the creamy polenta was balanced with the prawns and there was some very serious food envy on my part after I'd nicked a forkful. Some very accomplished cooking for £8.50:
Moving on, the other girls all chose duck confit for their main. I'd normally join them but having wolfed down a confit pork belly at extremely fancy Chez Bruce the previous evening, I thought it excessive and went for the lamb chops with minted beans instead. It was a good choice as the lamb had been cooked perfectly with sticky rendered fat and a blushing pink inner - and both the lamb and duck had been properly French trimmed too. For sides we couldn't resist the polenta chips with smokey tomato or the sweet potato fries, and we balanced this out with a plateful of grilled broccoli over almond butter and capers which was also really exceptional.
My lamb and the varying accoutrements:
Looking at these photos again, I am struck by how reasonable the prices were as both of these dishes were only £13 each and I would expect them to be closer to £20.
Puddings too, at just £5 apiece were too hard to decline. The salted caramel soft serve was a big hit and looked very cute in its little pot:
I had the pain perdu (like a little eggy brioche) with maple cream and crispy bacon, which was divine and exactly how you would want any pudding involving bacon to be:
We ended the meal with a series of custom made digestifs and patted ourselves on the back for making such an excellent choice with this year's lunch venue. The bill came to just under £80 a head (thanks to our impressive wine ordering skills) and we skipped off to K-Box to sing some Mariah fat, full up and feeling very festive.