This restaurant seems to be quite hard to book. So much so that I felt I needed to take some holiday in order to make it on a weekday. With such high expectations it would be easy for me to experience a lonely plummet to the end of a bottomless pit should the lunch not go as planned. Thankfully that was not the case.
An amuse bouche of what I refer to as prawn crackers with cream cheese on top. Ok. Maybe that sounds a little disgusting but I forgot the elaborate name given to this dish by our waiter. A little to whet the appetite. I admit to being a little spoilt in terms of my fine dining experience as I usually expect to have 2-3 amuse bouches (greedy person that I am).
Imagine my disappointment when the next dish to arrive was just bread. Bah. Just bread you say. But very special bread for me! Sunflower seed bread. With a soft bouncy texture and when combined with gently whipped butter appealed to my tactile sense of touch. It was so good that I had to ask for more even though I knew well the dangers of too much bread. Bloating! The best bread I’ve had in the last year or so and as you know, I am a bit of picky eater. So this is not something I say lightly!
I usually don’t like eating vegetables on their own. Must remind me of traumatic experiences when I was small and I was commanded to finish my greens. However, this dish was different. Not just because it contained one of my favourite things, fried chicken skin, but because the smooth goat’s butter with hazelnut contrasted with the crispiness of the Jerusalem artichokes provided an enjoyable experience of touch just as with the bread.
My companion went with salmon. Which was accompanied by thin noodles of celeriac. Yes. Celeriac. I thought it was chinese noodles at first. With such a neutral flavour it contrasted well with the strong taste of the cubed salmon. Definitely a dish that pleased the eyes as well as the salmon cubes had been artfully stacked. If I made it, I would have just slapped down the whole salmon fillet on the plate. But that’s just me, as I sometimes refer to myself as a cultural barbarian or alternatively plead too high a level of sophistication when words fail me.
Pork belly with cauliflower puree, parsnips, buckwheat and juniper. The cauliflower puree was not what I was expecting. It was the wrong colour to start. I thought cauliflower was white! Not brown! Although it all went together extremely well. The pork was crunchy and tasteful and well complemented by the vegetables. Again, there were so many things going on in this dish. Flavour, texture and colour all rolled into one.
Cod with kale and lobster cream, kohlrabi, mustard and dill. I was very surprised with this dish. I think this is the best example of cod done just right that I have experienced. I am used to this much abused and maligned fish being subject to pummeling, at least in the circles I move in, as a somehow more plebeian seafood as compared to, for example, tuna. Maybe because it is usually overcooked and brings back dreaded memories of school lunches. When combined with the lobster cream and kale (my attempts to cook with kale have been unmitigated disasters) the delicate flavours of the cod were well complemented.
Apple cake and cinnamon ice cream. Not that special right? Well, think again. The apple cake was moist yet managed to maintain structural integrity giving it a delightful firmness to bite into. The apple cake manged to taste of apple rather than being an overly sweet pastry as sometimes is the case. The ice cream on the other hand was so soft that I have no idea why it was not a puddle on the plate. This was the lightest and most delicate example of this type of food that I have ever tried. Just this dessert would be a reason for me to come back.
Smoked chocolate cream. Hmmm. When I read this on the menu, I thought that surely the cream would melt into a puddle. The peanut flavour of the ice cream necessitated a heavier consistency which went well with the caramel. In any other restaurant, this dessert would be the star but among such competition, if I had to pick again, I would definitely go for the apple cake and cinnamon ice cream.
A little toffee and marshmallows to finish off. Squishy and hard, a sweet end to a well textured lunch.
Fera was a very enjoyable experience. The food itself I could tell was very technically difficult to execute well, akin to getting a mouse to play the violin while balancing on top of a circus ball, but when successfully accomplished the result was outstanding. I was particularly impressed with the attention paid to the texture of food through my little journey here. Thank you Fera, for opening my eyes to that much ignored (at least for me) appreciation of sustenance, feeling your food.
A quiet eating 7.5/10.
Lunch (3 courses) was GBP30 excluding drinks and service.
Addendum – I revisited on 2 separate occasions and found that service seemed a bit lacking. It wasn’t running off a cliff bad but when you are left waiting for your main course for your first course for 30 minutes, it is a bit of a concern. I thought that maybe they were trying to catch the chicken in the kitchen. Blame my first blush effect but on subsequent visits Fera was still good but no longer had that first crush effect. Their prices have also increased!
49 Brook St