Review of 'L'Autre Pied'

I have been hearing about “L'Autre Pied” for quite some now so when an offer came up in GroupOn for their 7 course tasting menu (normally £62 each; another £38 if you want the wine pairing for each course) we jumped at the chance to have a try. The small restaurant is on a side street in Marylebone and could easily be missed in an area where there are a large number of restaurants (most not quite as nice as this). We were warmly welcomed by the staff when we arrived for the first service of the evening on a Friday.

We were shown to a small table against the wall beside what we would come to learn was a busy serving area. Introduced to our waiter we were given a copy of the tasting menu containing the order of service as well as the wine and drink menus though these were superfluous as my companion ordered a rosé recommended by our hosts and we simply ordered a bottle of sparkling water for the table. The small interior is quite cool and minimalist with modern art on the walls. A slight quirk was that for a restaurant that is as nice as Pied there were four drilled holes into the surface of our plain wood veneer covered table (and the neighbouring one) that scraped our arms when we had them on the top.

Encouraged to take our time with the courses they began to arrive. First up was “Vichyssoise” (a light chicken broth-based soup) which was delightfully served in the shells of eggs that were delivered to the table in an egg carton.

The soup was wonderfully light and frothy with a slight hint of chicken broth but none of the crab we were told was also “often” present. A good start.

Next up was a “salad of green asparagus/confit egg yolk” which was quite tasty, in particular the asparagus which was tasty and cooked to perfection (not squishy!). We were encouraged to break then mix the egg yolk with the salad greens resulting in a wonderfully rich dressing. A bit of a difference in cooking meant my companions egg yolk was slightly runnier than mine but in no way did this effect the flavour which was quite pleasant with a slightly sticky texture.

A “pan fried gurnard/courgette/home made ricotta/smoked paprika” was also quite nice with the two small portions of fish perfectly cooked with crispy skin. The courgette was stuffed with a light ricotta (sweet) cream cheese but a surprise was a flavourful small spicy pepper filled with more cream cheese. The plate was drizzled with a nice anise-y flavoured sauce that added a bit of a lift to the generally mild flavours on the plate.

Throughout these early courses we were offered bread from an assortment of three varieties: A seeded roll, a flavoured scone and slices of sour dough bread. All of these were perfectly cooked (and hot) with a small portion of butter provided for the table (one can never have too much butter with good bread).

Our main was “pig belly/cabbage/carrots/star anise” which was quite the star of the entire evening, in particular the amazingly cooked pork belly - Served very hot in small cubes with a melt-in-the-mouth thick layer of fat and perfectly flat, crunchy crackling on top. The small wedge of charred cabbage on the side was nice but, for me, could have either been charred more or served in a smaller portion. A couple baby carrots accompanied the stars of the plate along with another anise-based sauce.

Next up was the cheese course with four different varieties from Europe (with two from France). Served at the correct temperature, the four small wedges were more than enough for the two of us. Told to work our way from one end of the board to the other starting at the “mildest” we ended up disagreeing with their definition of “mild” with the second last being our favourite and, by our taste, the mildest of the lot. The strongest, a blue, was way too strong for us though with most of the cheeses we found that the more we ate of the particular variety the more we began to enjoy the flavour. To accompany the cheeses we were given an assortment of flat cracker-bread which was perfectly neutral in flavour and there more for texture and conveyance.

Our “pre-dessert” was a lemon-foam-type affair served in small oval cups which we found extremely strong. The soft meringue topping had a lemon sorbet beneath a lemon curd and sugar crumbs. We ended up making sure each scoop picked up some of the sugar otherwise we feared for the safety of our stomachs from the acidity of the lemon. Wonderfully smooth and quite tasty.

The final course was a bit of a disappointment. “Pistachio cake/white chocolate/almond custard/whey and liquorice Ice Cream” was a fairly crowded plate (in comparison to the other, far simpler, courses) with pieces of the cake, dollops of custard with sugar shards sticking up and scoops of what I would assume was the white chocolate (in cream form) surrounding a large quenelle of the liquorice ice cream. The flavours here, with the exception of the sugar shards, were extremely muted to the point were we could not detect the flavour of liquorice in the ice cream. The custard here was exceptional and, surprisingly, the star of this particular scene.

Our server was very helpful explaining every dish as it was delivered though I could not help note of what I took to be a slight note of condescension in his tone. He was very friendly and towards the later courses opened up a bit more to us with some pleasant banter. All of the waiting staff were professional and, of course, immaculately turned out. Throughout the meal I found the constant coming and going of staff from the kitchen to the staging area beside our table somewhat distracting from our somewhat leisurely meal but my companion, looking away from the area, barely noticed. I suspect most diners at other tables would not notice also.

All of our food was wonderfully prepared and beautifully presented though I can't help thinking it could have had more flavour or “wow” factor particularly after the promise of the starter. This is not by any means an overly expensive meal in London but it is getting up there so you would expect nothing less. Note that an optional 12.5 % service charge was added to our bill.

Certainly worth a visit for a quiet, pleasant meal slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of other areas of Marylebone, Oxford Street and Baker Street. Not cheap but good quality food with attentive staff. L'Autre Pied might not win awards for originality or shocking flavours but for what it does offer is top quality and presented beautifully.

Rating:

Review Date: 2017-07-21


Cuisine: French

Address: 5-7 Blandford Street, London W1U 3DB ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Bond Street TUBE Baker Street

Location: London (England) - Marylebone

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Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7486 9696

URL: http://www.lautrepied.co.uk/