Oct 18 2012

Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs

Bubbledogs is a champagne and hot dog restaurant which I have already reviewed but 2 months after they opened the hot dog restaurant, Bubbledogs also opened “Kitchen Table”, a totally different type of restaurant where the owner and a famous chef James Knappet (I have discussed him at lengths in my Bubbledogs review) cooks his tasting menu with 2 other chefs every evening. James Knappet is an amazing chef (see his picture below) and has worked in Marcus Waring, Per Se and Roganic and he runs Kitchen Table with his lovely wife Sandia, a sommelier, who has worked at Noma and Per Se. Kitchen Table is located behind the buzz that goes on in Bubbledogs, behind a black curtain at the back of the room, so if you did not know it was located there, you could easily miss it. Sandia and James advertised Bubbledogs a lot, but they did not advertised Kitchen Table that much because as Sandia puts it “it is not for everyone” as you are sitting “just like in a kitchen” (which the famous restaurant critic Fay Maschler did not like) and watching chef’s cook and it only has 1 menu per evening which constantly changes, and Sandia wanted Kitchen Table to become popular through word of mouth. Kitchen Table only has 19 seats (arranged in a horse shoe shape around the kitchen so everyone has a good view of the chefs), and they have 2 seatings, one at 6.00 where half the people arrive and one at 7.30, where the rest of the people arrive, which means even though they have 2 seatings, it is to help chefs cook for a smaller amount of people (cooking for 10 at the same time is better than for 20), and it does not mean that you will be kicked out after a certain time and you can stay and linger on as much as you like. I absolutely love the atmosphere at Kitchen Table, Sandia who serves you is the most lovely creature you, and it is so much fun watching the chefs cook in front of you and also interact with you, as you can ask them questions and just chat to them when they are not too busy (which I tend to do a lot, which means they know recognise me after 2 visits) and they are always so nice. It just adds another interesting dimension, like a show, to your dinner.


The first time I went to Kitchen Table I was blown away by the food. I went for the 7.30 seating with my friends Amit and David and David is one of the best restaurant bloggers in London (his blog is ranked number 7 by the Urban Spoon) and who knew James and Sandia. We had some champagne before the meal after we were seated on these high tall chairs (which are comfortable as you can lean back in them) and I found the menu very intriguing. The menu is 1 page and was written on this old type of paper, which felt so nice to touch and you could keep after your meal as a souvenir to remind you of the nice time you had at the restaurant and for each of the courses it just had one word description, so the first course was going to be “shrimp”, then “chicken” then “mackerel”, so instead of detailing every single smallest ingredient in the dish like so many other restaurants do, Kitchen Table had just written the main one. There were 11 dishes on the menu and the shrimp dish that was listed first when it arrived, was actually orange roe, in this yellow sauce and it was accompanied by prawn heads. I was so skeptical about eating a prawn head, as obviously that is the part you always throw away when eating a prawn, but they did look appetising and crispy, and when I started eating the heads dipping them in the sauce, I absolutely could not stop, they were so delicious. They gave me a pot of prawn heads to share with David and I had like 2/3 of it. I loved this dish so much, as it was using an ingredient that I would not usually eat and making it so tasty and also such a memorable dish. Next we got the actual body of the prawn on a plate, and the prawns were raw with some dill, dill oil and horseradish snow. It was great use of the whole prawn, serving it in 2 different ways and using the whole thing, and I loved the raw prawn and it felt extremely fresh, and the dill and horseradish went brilliantly with it. The next dish was supposed to be “chicken” and once again James Knappet served you something you would not think you will have when you just read “chicken”. He gave you a crispy chicken skin with rosemary mascarpone and bacon jam on the top of it, and this is one of my favourite dishes in London. The combination of flavours is absolutely sensational, I think I was close to begging them to give me more pieces of this. The third dish was “mackerel” and here they served you a piece of mackerel with pickled cucumbers and I love mackerel and I thought it was a nice dish. Next came a “scallop” which was served in a green broth, and also very nice, I remember thinking it was a great scallop dish and I am not the biggest fan of fried scallops. Next came my third favourite dish of the whole dinner (with the prawn heads and chicken skin), it was called “truffle” and the truffle was served with pasta and parmesan cheese and I have never ever loved truffle as much as I loved it in this dish. I am usually very skeptical when it comes to truffle, as I have not had that many nice dishes with it, but here it was sensational. It is one of my most memorable pasta dishes I have ever had. “Duck” followed and we were given duck breast with crispy skin as well as duck heart, a very pleasant meat dish. Next came “venison” with blackberries and blackberry juice, and this was probably my least favourite dish, as I do not like sweet berries mixed with meat, but the colours on the plate looked stunning. After the meat, there was a cheese course, and it was called “Burrata” and had some burrata, seasoned with some oil on top of it, and I love burrata and this was great quality, delicious burrata.  After our savoury meal, we had 3 deserts and the first one was called “fig” and it was a great desert, it had a fig and fig ice cream and the taste of it was amazing, the fig was not overpowering and I was very surprised that the whole thing excited me as much as it did, as fig is not my favourite thing to east usually. Next came another great desert, a pear tart, served with pear ice cream and pear slices, and once again the desert is gorgeous, and I was just totally shocked how a little cake can taste so nice that I absolutely can’t stop and have to finish the whole thing even though I know this is adding weight and kilos to me. The last dish was called “blackberry” and had this blackberry taste marshmallow on top of a cookie, covered in dark chocolate and blackberry meringue and blackberry jam inside of it. A very cute looking and tasty finish to a great meal. I absolutely love Kitchen Table, I love the atmosphere, the warmth of the place as well as the food, which is delicious, memorable, beautifully presented and totally surprising at times. I think this is one of the best restaurants in London.

Date: 18/10/12
Price for 3 people with matching wine and a glass of champagne each and service charge: £342
Location: Charlotte Street

 

 

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The second time I went to Kitchen Table was 3 months later, and I had an equally memorable experience. I decided to take my boyfriend there, as we both love going to memorable restaurants, and we went there on a Thursday for dinner for the 18.00 seating (as the last time I went for the 7.30 seating which finished after 23.00 which is a bit too late for me). I called on the day to confirm my reservation and Sandia picked up and she told me she remembered me and that I had come with David the previous time, and it was so incredible they remembered me, I instantly felt great, and this shows their great hospitality and quality of service. When I arrived one of the waiters that remembered me as well, and was calling me by my first name, came and had a super nice chat about how I was, I loved it. The same three chefs were working in the kitchen, James, Aren (to whom James referred to as the flying Scotsman and he does have a very cool Scottish accent) and a third one who I think he was called Roury. 

 

We were presented with the same style cool menu on this very nice and thick paper with a drawing of a deer and I was reading about the 12 courses I would have, and there were 5 things on the menu “chicken”, “truffle”, “duck”, “venison” and “pear” that I had had the last time I went to Kitchen Table and I was wondering if they would be prepared the same way as last time. It turned out that even when you had the same ingredient written on the menu, only “chicken” and “pear” were exactly the same on my second visit as on the first. The first dish was called “Oyster”, and as I do not eat oysters and I saw chefs already platting them, I told them I am allergic to them, so they would give me another first course. My boyfriend had the oyster, which was from Colchester and which was served with fresh dill, dill oil and frozen horseradish, and he liked it. I was instead given this nice beetroot salad with frozen horseradish, and I did like it very much, the beetroots very firm and delicious, cut in small pieces and the horseradish went well with them. Next the menu said “chicken” and we got the same chicken dish that I had last time, crispy chicken skin with rosemary mascapone and bacon jam, and my boyfriend loved it and was as impressed with it as I was. It is one of those things I could just eat all the time. Next came “cod” which was pureed and smoked, served with pickled cucumber and crumbled roeon the top, the pureed cod had a strong but delicious flavour, and I much prefer cod served like this in an interesting way than just as a fillet which you would get in any other restaurant. After the cod dish they added an extra dish, which was not on the menu, and if it was it would have probably read “scallop” as it had fresh scallops with thinly cut and long radishes and served with cucumber sauce, the scallops were extremely fresh (James did explain where he had got them from, but I forgot), and they went brilliantly with the radishes and the sauce, loved this dish. Next we were served “crab” and James had taken white meat of the brown crab and served it with his own grown lemon skins (Sandia later explained how they grow lemon trees in Los Angeles where her family lives as her dad loves having fresh lemons to have with his vodka and they had just bought a new lemon tree), hazelnuts, breadcrumbs and turnips, and I know I am sounding so repetitive, but this was another dish that I thought was great, as it was not typical, and it was very delicious. In so many other restaurants you have these amazingly presented dishes when they are actually not that nice to eat, which is not the case with Kitchen Table. “Bass” followed which was sea bass with red onions and fennel, and this was probably one of my least favourite dishes, as it lacked that wow factor for me, even though the sea bass was nice and James had taken extra care to make the skin crispy. I was reading the menu and the next thing was supposed to be “truffle” so I got super excited as I thought I would have the same truffle dish as last time with pasta that I so loved but this time it was a risotto served with English truffle and some parmesan cheese. I think I slightly preferred the pasta to the risotto, but nevertheless I loved it, and this was one of my favourite dishes of this meal once again. “Duck”, the next dish was accompanied by squash, rhubarb sauce and duck heart. I had watched the chefs prepare this duck and they started quite a while ago, and were frying it a bit, then cooking it in an oven to get the skin crispy and in the end they succeeded in having this amazing crispy skin and very soft, in some instances pink meet, that was extremely tender. James had served duck and duck heart last time as well (note I was not that keen on the duck heart and only had a tiny bit) but the accompanying things were totally different both times. “Venison” (which was 8 months old and was shot by one of James’s friends over the weekend as he explained) which came next was served with similar things than last time, blackberry, blackberry puree and the most curious vegetable called salsify. I had never heard of it before and I had been watching chefs cook this for about 30 minutes or longer on the pan in front of me, so I was curious what it was, and lovely chef Aren showed me an uncooked salsify which is very firm and a dark root vegetable and it was amazing how they had taken this and made it into the most soft and delicious vegetable on the plate. The venison was also literally melting in your mouth, it was that soft and tender and we had also been watching the chefs cook it in front of us (you can see the uncooked venison, which Aren was super nice to show me before he started cooking it). The cheese dish that in the menu appeared as “Stichelton” was made with stichelton cheese and it was served on home made rye bread with caramelised walnuts and celery and apple marmalade, the most wonderful cheese on toast combination, everything was just tasty and perfect. The first desert was called “Mango” and had fresh mango, lime and coconut
and was citrusy and nice. The second desert was called “pear” and was similar to the pear dish we had last time as it also had pear tart and slices of pear, but this time it was accompanied by liquorice ice cream. I thought I would hate the ice cream as I hate liquorice but I actually loved it, you could only slightly taste the liquorice and it went so well with the pear tart it took me by surprise, so once again I totally finished the whole cake even though I should not have and I did not think it would taste that nice. The last thing we had was called “blood orange” and it was the same cake type of thing we had last time and had the same ingredients, marshmallow, cookie, dark chocolate, meringue and jam, but this time it was all infused with blood orange. 

 

I had another absolutely fabulous meal at Kitchen Table, and my boyfriend was also over the moon and said it was much better than Heston’s Dinner and Ledbury, where we had been recently. Also what I really liked about going to Kitchen Table this time was how pleasant the environment was. We made friends with the people sitting next to us, and one of them was a seasoned foodie that had been to around 8/10 of the restaurants in the top 100 best restaurants list and the other person was a 23 year old chef that was starting to work in the kitchen with James from next Tuesday. It was fascinating to speak to him and learn about his upbringing and how he had been working as a chef for 14 years and the best place where he had worked had been Per Se where he met James. Also Sandia explained how they did not serve bread in Kitchen Table as James couldn’t find a good enough supplier and also they did not want people to get full on bread. This is one of my favourite restaurants in London, I just love everything about it, but especially how tasty the food is, and how with the right preparation and cooking they can make me eat things with such pleasure than in other restaurants I would totally shy away from. 

 

Price for 2 people with alcohol and service charge: £233

Date: 17/01/13

Maija rated: 

5.00

Location: 

Kitchen Table
70 Charlotte Street W1T 4QG
London
United Kingdom
GB
Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 5