STREETS STILL UNSEEN WE'LL FIND SOMEHOW
NO TIME IS BETTER THAN NOW
In my day they used to call it boil-in-the-bag. Cod was my favourite as I recall. Now it’s sous-vide. Well not really as they’re two different techniques and both have been around for a while – I remember the Roux Brothers had a place in the City which was totally based on vacuum-packed meals prepped at Le Gavroche. The reason for all this preamble was to talk about a new restaurant that’s opened near DH on Hoxton Street called Bacchus which according to the publicity was offering up sous-vide dishes.
I haven’t walked along Hoxton Street for a while. There used to be a regular market, several dodgy boozers and er..that’s it. Walking up the street to the restaurant it appears about the same. Bacchus is in one of aforementioned dodgy boozers called funnily enough The Bacchus. And it’s no longer dodgy.
It’s obviously a labour of love for the young entrepreneur owner who’s putting his own dosh into the venture. The original walls have been kept and polished up, tables built, Scandinavian chairs sourced. It’s pleasing mixture between old and new and should bed in nicely as time goes on although they may want to rethink the lighting which was a bit on the bright side. To take care of the food a chef with El Bulli and Jean Georges on his CV has been recruited and given a small open kitchen with plenty of toys to play with.
I went for the tasting menu of five courses to which I added an extra starter and pudding from the pre-fixe.
To give an idea of the style of cooking, I had:
Warm Scallop “gelee” with green-apple air cauliflower puree and tender pine-nuts.
Rabbit Mousse in potato leaves with a fluid centre. Fresh Cherries marinated in cassis syrup, reduced milk.
Pork Jowl cooked in cinnamon scented oil, langoustine, leek and rosewater puree, nashi pear and soy paint.
Salmon cooked at 50 degrees for 13 minutes with English Strawberries, marinated fennel, black almonds and almond froth.
Lamb loin cooked at low temperature with vanilla onion soubise, figs brulee, bitter cocoa and garden herbs.
Green apple pannacotta, green apple sorbet, ginger bread grounds, lemongrass bubblebath and Thai basil oil.
Roasted pear financier, dolce latte ice cream, pear syrup, black pepper oil and lemon compote.
So does it deliver ? Mostly. With the exception of an overcooked langoustine and some hardened cocoa, the execution of of the dishes was good: the Salmon, Pork and the Lamb were cooked perfectly. I liked individual constituents like the cauliflower puree, marinated fennel, ice cream and lemon compote. It was also a relief to get away from those awful unsubtle reductions that restaurants feel they need to do when offering ‘fine-dining’. Here everything was light and clean-tasting.
Some things didn’t work as a combination for me though. In the Rabbit dish for instance, the individual parts were fine but I just didn’t gel as a whole. In the scallop dish there was a large sprinkling of cinnamon. I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be eaten with the dish or was there as decoration for a large expanse of empty plate Similarly, the large smudge of soy dotted with mangosteen didn’t bring anything to the Pork dish for me.
The combo where everything worked was that of the Salmon, Strawberries and Fennel and where it hadn’t completely hardened the cocoa added an interesting note to the Lamb. Also, the Puddings worked, although I’m not a huge fan of this part of a meal.
The other aspect I wasn’t completely happy with was the quality of the scallop and langoustine. They just didn’t have that sweetness that the best shellfish has although maybe these were the best at the price point of the Tasting Menu (£36).
The service, for a first night, and given they had a large party to serve was good: friendly and efficient. Especially helpful was the MD who came up on the spot with a wine pairing that went very well with my meal.
Overall then a very enjoyable evening with interesting food and wine which found me weaving my way southwards at about 1:30am slightly the worse for wear.
It’s early days yet and Bacchus is still a work in progress but I think they’re heading in an interesting direction and look forward to repeat visits to try some of the other dishes. It’s also worth pointing out that I can’t think of anywhere else in London doing similar food and that in itself makes the place laudable and well worth a punt.