Friday, 7 June 2013

REVIEW: The Five Fields, Blacklands Terrace, Chelsea

One of London’s most anticipated and exciting new openings is Five Fields restaurant, in Chelsea just off the King's Road. Chef-owner Taylor Bonnyman who worked at two Michelin-starred Corton, in New York has an army of bright, young chefs now working with him. Names such as Marguerite Keogh (of Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley) and pastry chef Chris Underwood (previously at Tom Aikens Restaurant).With Taylor having such an accomplished history, it was no surprise that the restaurant was full when we arrived.

We on the other hand nearly never got in - something to do with me booking a table the following week - whoops. Luckily they had a last minute cancellation, so you can understand my relief of not having to head to McDonalds in my smart ‘dining attire’. The idea is to dress very smart, casual it down with some comfy shoes and what do you know, hey presto, no matter how drunk you get you still look pretty good, and when you do fall over on the way out, your comfy shoes will take the tumble for you. Being an alcoholic takes lots of planning.

I'm not sure what I was expecting from Five Fields, lots of seasonal fruits and veg, with good quality ingredients in a slightly stuffy environment I guess. Well, I was partly right. The veg and herbs are all home grown, and you can definitely taste it - in fact I had the best beetroot in my entire life here. Everything was well sourced and the restaurant was indeed quite stuffy. Posh, as well as a lack of air conditioning. The decor was nice, but looked a little confused, maybe slightly 90’s. I could imagine Patsy and Edina dining here.


We started with a small selection of appetisers. For the life of me I can't quite remember what they all exactly were. The first was a delicious crunchy ball filled with salt beef and topped with sauce and pickle. The other was a delicate and light pastry, almost choux like and filled with cheese. The last, I'm not entirely sure but was an oily tomato mix topped off with the daintiest edible flower.



Some bread was offered, and a lot of it throughout our meal. It arrived hot every time and I fell in love with the black olive option, though a tad messy. Two butters accompanied, one topped with sea salt, the other not. Both were intensely creamy, and I even resulted to licking it straight off the knife - pure class.


My love of foie gras has expanded so much, to the point if it’s on the menu, I won't order anything else but. Preferably, if I had the choice, I'd like it slightly fried and served on top of a slab of fillet beef. When the dish of foie gras with shimeji mushrooms and rainbow carrots arrived at the table, I was blown away by the presentation; it was a piece of art, no questions. A small red dome, encasing the foie gras topped with a gold leaf, and a garden of veg which looked as though it was growing out from the plate. I didn't even want to touch it, it looked too good. I delved in and dissected it piece by piece, and it was good. The vegetables were all crunchy and incredibly fresh and the foie gras was light and mousey with a delicious casing - which I suspected was made from beetroot, but please don't quote me on that. All in all a delicious mouth-watering dish, but I think I was more blown away by the presentation, then the flavour.


The Orkney scallop with cauliflower and pistachio was perhaps one of the best dishes I've had this year. The cauliflower and pistachio was served as a sort of dry crumble mixture and also puree versions to add another dimension. The scallops were very large and cooked absolutely perfectly. I couldn't fault them. The crumble mixture had an array of spices which carried slight Asian/Indian tones. It was all about textures and flavour. If I had my way I could happily eat this dish daily. Sadly I haven't got the skill to re-create it, so I don't think that will be happening. 



First out for our mains was the Berkshire venison (muntjac deer species), sussex beetroot, blackberry and smoked ricotta. The venison was most likely cooked in a water bath and was incredibly soft and tender, retaining all its succulence and flavour. The beetroot puree was good, but very earthy and i felt it clashed ever so slightly against the blackberrys. Smoked ricotta was just amazing and complimented the meat wonderfully. A delicious dish, but a few of the flavours just didn't work in perfect harmony.


Next we ate the suckling pig, five ways with smoked potato and wet garlic. The smoke potato was intense, but delicious and the garlic followed through in every mouthful. As for the suckling pig, there was crackling, roasted, deep fried, plus I think boiled and another I couldn't quite figure out, but it was very crunchy. The deep fried element had some nice spices to it while every different texture had its key flavour and part to play. I enjoyed the dish, but I've enjoyed suckling pig else where a lot more. I also found this to be the one dish where presentation was not perfect.


Getting quite full at this point, and although £45 for three courses is not cheap, you do get your money’s worth and there is certainly a lot more than the three courses advertised if you were to include all the extras. After a nice, but simple pre-dessert, the garden pea and coconut pea cassonade with chocolate soil and coconut sorbet arrived and looked too good to be edible. It was also strange to see peas in my dessert. The dish was fresh, full of flavour and the peas surprisingly really worked, even the coconut complimented them. The sorbets far exceeded my expectations and were excellent. As much as I enjoyed this dessert, and with the pea element so intense, this felt more like a starter in taste.


Rhubarb and custard, which was rhubarb curd with saffron custard and salted milk crumble. Any remnants of the classic dish had been stripped away, such as pieces of rhubarb, and warm vanilla custard. The rhubarb curd had an incredible amount of flavour and a lovely soft texture. The saffron custard was nice but I think the curd overpowered much of that saffron flavour and the salted milk crumble was an added texture only. The dainty pink, gelatine covered rhubarb impersonation did somewhat remind me of a crab stick. The dish was tasty, well executed and very well balanced. but flavours were fighting to be noticed.


Just when we thought the ordeal of eating so much delicious food was over, we were presented with THE best, slightly wet milk and passion fruit marshmallows, bursting with flavour. A further pot of truffles, which can only be described as, near perfect followed. A white chocolate was first devoured, which tasted like a key lime pie and was very delectable. Dark chocolate, filled with my pet hate, Turkish delight (which I surprisingly enjoyed). And the final, milk chocolate with caramel and peanut butter.



Overall I really enjoyed my meal at Five Fields; it did have some downfalls. One being an expensive wine list, but what you did pay for was excellently chosen wines, which I praise the sommeliers for. For such a small venue which seats only 40 people it can feel quite cramped, and the confusing amount of staff only makes you dizzy. The Presentation, which I can't stress again, is excellent. Alone this made it into an experience for us, not just a meal. Book a table, because this place will be hard to get into, especially as they only open in the evenings. I give Five Fields a year, in which time any downfalls will have been ironed out and with such a young team behind it I can only see it going from strength to strength. And then, will come the Michelin star, I'm quietly confident of it. The meal for two of us, with wine came to a staggering, but well spent £200.

8/10

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