Published on November 9th, 2015 | by Ben Southwood0
Summary: Piquet is one of the nicest restaurants in London. Expect exquisite service and a delicate balance of French and British influences.
I’ll say it right up: Piquet is my new favourite place to be in London. In the last three weeks I’ve been three times, and I plan to go back again as soon as possible. Everything about Piquet is faultless, from the concept, to the rooms, to the service, to the menu design, to the cocktails, to the whimsical name (a semi-eponymous play on the head chef, Allan Pickett).
Piquet is very much a French restaurant, but it’s also a British restaurant. Allan Pickett is from Kent, but inspired by French cooking, and it shines through. Dishes on the menu are French regional recipes, but with strikingly British seasonal ingredients: damsons, sloes, plums, pork, pheasants, oysters. It could have come out gimmicky, but I think it’s actually the best of both worlds, and the menu is a beauty.
In my three visits I have travelled right across the menu, eating poached and roast pheasant, duck rillettes, lamb croquettes, confit pork belly, crab, snails on toast, oysters, beetroot salad, mushroom veloute, lambs liver with bacon, venison loin, cod cheek casserole, suckling pig, and perhaps best of all monkfish with ox tongue and lettuce. Every single one of these dishes was at least good; many of them were exquisite.
The prices range from normal restaurant prices to ‘goodness that’s a steal’. For lunch or early dinner you can eat three of Pickett’s creations for under £20. Otherwise you’re looking at £6 to £14 for starters and £16 to £25 for mains, and about £7 for desserts. And all of these are proper dishes, not snacks—in fact some of the starters verge on being adequate as mains.
But brilliant food and reasonable prices are not really why I love Piquet so much. Those things are the baseline for a place being good, but what makes Piquet so special is the experience from start to finish. You are met in an ante-chamber reception between the door and the bar, which is always manned—no standing around in the middle of the restaurant looking lost and feeling awkward.
The cocktail menu is a relentlessly interesting mix, all invented by mixologist Blaze Langier; I’ve tried seven so far and each was distinct: clean alcoholic flavours, light sweetness, heady wobbly mixes and high-up aromatic flavours. The bar is a lush memory of better times gone by—not quite 1920s but evocative, with small group jazz playing, heavy wood panelling, and high-end spirits. The restaurant has touches of the Medieval, Chinese, but feels resolutely French. You can see right in at Allan Pickett and his staff in the kitchen wherever you sit.
Your bread is always served with a spoon and fork. Your napkin is always folded if you leave the table. Waiters are always on hand exactly when you need them, and never bother you at any other time. There are places to hang your coats—I can’t count the places that think it’s OK to require you to drape them over the back of your chair or plop them next to you on the floor. Cheese, and some mains and desserts (including the peerless red wine poached pear tart tatin with cinnamon iced cream, one of the best desserts in town) are served from those portable fold-up serving tables.
Piquet is what going out to restaurants is all about, creating a special experience that takes you out of the world. Things just flow, dinner just happens, food just comes and drinks are just drunk. You don’t need to do anything, you just sit back and chat and enjoy yourself and before you know it you have a big grin on your face and hours have passed. Go to Piquet as soon as you can, you owe it to yourself.
Piquet, 92 Newman St, W1T 3EZShare This Post