The Blue Boar Restaurant at the luxury Conrad London St James hotel has launched “aSPiRING Chefs”, a fresh initiative and new seasonal menu, with dishes designed by junior chefs under the watchful gaze of Executive Chef, Michael Riordan.
This innovative approach to designing a menu allows the young chefs to develop and grow, whilst also supporting a great cause, with a £1 donation from every booking going to Hospitality Action. Simon Wittenberg went along for dinner to sample first-hand the culinary creations concocted by the young talents.
Taking its name from The Blue Boar Tavern which once occupied the same site many years ago, the smart, seemingly casual Blue Boar Restaurant, which is furnished with dark wooden tables and black leather banquettes on top of which sit elegant lamps, accommodates around 50 to 60 covers at a time. Also, being situated in the St James’s Park area rather than further up Victoria Street towards the London Eye, it mainly attracts business clientele, including lone travellers, and is, therefore, busier in the week than at the weekend.
As soon as I heard about the new spring menu, this was something that I definitely wanted to try. There are plenty of options to choose from, and the names of the chefs who conjured up their respective recipes, are all listed. Dietary requirements are also very well catered for, and the restaurant will do what they can to adapt the dishes to suit the requirements of guests.
Before we had the chance to reach for the basket of warm crusty bread, olive oil and salted butter, our Serbian host took us to the wine fridge at the rear of the restaurant to discover more about our preferences and to provide recommendations to suit. It came down to a crisp Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and the more fruity Spanish Viña Esmeralda white, but the latter won the hearts of our palates, and it duly proved to work perfectly with the gastronomic delights that we enjoyed throughout the evening.
For the starter, I went for Rui’s delightful and flavoursome cubes of vodka dill-cured Scottish salmon (£13) which were complemented with bread crisps, small morsels of fresh orange and thinly sliced pieces of radish. To finish it off, there was some sour cream with dill, as well as some crushed almonds, which was all married brilliantly with the fish. My guest opted for Ana’s equally impressive roasted white asparagus (£13.50) which was complemented with a light vinaigrette, a sprinkling of capers, some sliced beetroot, pea shoots, and a fried hen egg which covered the majority of the ingredients on the plate.
Come the mains, and I was dithering between the aubergine ravioli (£16.50) and the Atlantic cod with lemon dill butter (£22) put together by 24-year-old Luca. Having had something marine-based for the first course, I decided to go for the aforementioned pasta and my selection didn’t disappoint. The three circular al dente parcels were bathed in a red pepper sauce, and were topped with pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, a dollop of goat’s cheese and slices of different coloured pepper, and with a garnish consisting of a delicate parmesan crisp, it was utterly delicious.
Joined by sides of red cabbage with chestnuts and dates (£5), as well as some cauliflower cheese with cheddar sauce, grapes and walnuts (£5), my other half headed for the medium-cooked and tender Yorkshire lamb by Piotr (£26), which arrived with some sundried tomatoes, black olives, Niçoise vegetables, caramelised shallots and roasted sweetbreads (which originate from a lamb’s neck). It all disappeared from the plate with ease, and it had been a great meal so far.
After a small break, I headed straight for Maryanne’s coconut and exotic fruit layers (£8.50) for the final course which came with a delightful vanilla rum reduction and a Piña Colada sorbet. It was an interesting-tasting “pudding” and had a pleasing sponge-like consistency as you cut into it. The thin curled slice of white chocolate gave it a nice decorative touch. As a dairy-free alternative to what was on the menu, my guest finished her gastronomic feast with a refreshing raspberry sorbet with fresh fruit. This was followed by a small complementary glass of sweet Chianti dessert wine to set us on our way.
All of the dishes that we tried at the Blue Boar Restaurant were abundant with colour and an exceptional level of presentation. It was easy to see that these junior chefs are both naturally gifted and set for promising careers. The spring menu is available until the beginning of July, so it is definitely worth stopping by to treat your taste buds to their handiwork whilst the opportunity’s there.
Blue Boar Restaurant – Where and How?
The Blue Boar Restaurant is located at 45 Tothill Street, Westminster, London, SW1H 9LQ, United Kingdom. For more information, visit www.blueboarlondon.com, or to make a reservation, e-mail [email protected] or call 0203 301 1400.
The spring menu is available for lunch and dinner until 01 July 2018, with £1 from every booking during this time going to Hospitality Action.