If there was ever a pub i had to call my local, it would be the The Cadogan Arms on the King's Road. It's both within stumbling distance, and just about crawling distance. What more could i ask for? Well good food would be a start. Previous dining attempts at The Cadogan Arms have not been very successful. The service has always been relaxed and attentive but food, overpriced and very ordinary. London has such a diverse offering that for £16 a main course you can pretty much hit the Michelin Star dining scene. Thankfully The Cadogan Arms have come to their senses and employed new head chef, Sam Hawkes (previously of The Fellow King's Cross).
Our friendly waitress sat us down and brought over a small, well cooked white loaf and butter to whet our appetites. It was simple, well made but unexciting and perhaps better suited to mopping up a bowl of soup. I've never understood the thinking behind gnawing on plain bread unless the butter is phenomenal (which it wasn't) or the bread has a something more to give (which it didn't).
Our starter of tempura cauliflower, turmeric cured florets, kale and chili pesto sounded delicious, but it was such a let down. The vegetables were covered in an anaemic tempura batter, presumably because the oil it was cooked in was just not hot enough. It mean no crunch, undercooked cauliflower and an oily flavour. The oil was so apparent there was barely any sign of turmeric flavour either, or chili pesto for that matter.
Our other starter of queen scallops with chorizo, sea spinach and hazelnut powder unfortunately arrived lukewarm, something which seems to be becoming more of a regular occurrence in restaurants i am finding recently. The scallops were a little over cooked, chorizo was delicious - as was the sea spinach but hazelnut powder? Presumably drowned in the wetness of the dish. There is to many bolds flavours in this dish for hazelnut powder to survive, and for me something that belongs on a drier plate of food.
The 45 day aged Cumbrian beef roast with a giant Yorkshire pudding, creamed horseradish, duck fat potatoes, roasted root vegetables, greens and gravy was dare i say it cold - but bloody delicious. The meat was flavoursome and well cooked, the gravy was simply delicious and so was everything else. An unbelievable shame and very annoying, especially considering it took over an hour between starter and main course to arrive. Service was very dismal, and it didn't look like it was the restaurant floor staff, but the kitchen. Nothing was coming out of it, or at least very little.
Roast Iberico pork shoulder with an almond puree, pickled plums and heavenly pork jus was, yes you guessed it - cold. The pork was juicy and tender, the almond puree wasn't particularly potent but was a nice touch and the pickled plums and pork just brought the whole dish together. If i came back, this would be my dish to order again, but hot. The side of chips were particular good and notable, but sauce that accompanied it tasted more like a rusty nail - something wasn't quite right.
Desserts such as this pear and walnut frangipane tart with burnt honey and thyme ice cream was actually very well made, infact desserts were the highlight here at The Cadogan Arms. Light crumbly pastry on the outside, and a soft moist centre topped with delicious ice cream carrying a subtle linger of thyme - what's not to like.
The best dish of our whole meal was this apple tart tatin with a crunchy calvados caramel and vanilla ice cream. It was glistening on the plate as though it just made its way down from another world (as it certainly didn't reflect the rest of our meal) with some superb pastry which was flaky, buttery and light. Gooey and richly flavoured apples drenched in sweet caramel sauce. It really lightened my mood.
From previous experiences at The Cadogan Arms, it is certainly a step up from before (believe it or not). The main problem with it all is the slow service in the kitchen and cold food arriving at tables, which may of course be a one off, and very bad timing. But with prices as ambitious as this, attention to detail is key, to make the restaurant, a restaurant worth returning to - and not just a pub. If it's not sorted anytime soon, then word of mouth will no doubt quickly spread.