Understanding my parents’ preference for good food without the fuss of modern gastronomy techniques, I brought them to Lamont’s Bishops for dinner. Known as one of the most established restaurants in fine dining and wine scene, I have heard many good things about this place. Such that the food is consistently good, the service courteous and setting impeccable. Needless to say, a walk through the lush gardens to the building entrance all felt very grand. Housed in a heritage building, its fittings were suited to a gentleman from the 70s. But for foodies like my family and I, it was all about the food.
Walking in, the waitress was very accommodating. XL was offered a spirit mix sample prior to ordering one for herself. The waitress’s favourite the Hendriks Gin and Tonic suited XL well and she immediately ordered one of that. My sister ordered an in-house sweet wine, the Rosé. But for me who dislike the taste of alcohol, nature’s gift i.e. water was all I needed.
For tonight, our pick was the degustation. The description of the dishes promised a fancy yet traditional fare. First up was a typical bread course. But unlike typical bread, this was a lobster roll. Did I not say it was fancy? :)! The flavours of the lobster were quite subtle and meat succulent, however I did not quite get the natural sweetness of a lobster. Potato wafers were the thinnest in the business and crisp. Kimchi though were not typical Korean. The one at Lamont’s felt more like a toned down coleslaw.
Rock lobster and prawn roll with potato wafers, kimchi
The next dish looked a little clumsy but luckily it was big in flavour . Generous sized meatballs covered in a mushroom cream topped with a crisp pancetta. This dish was every bit tasty but small eaters like my mom and sis found it a little too rich.
White rocks veal and leek polpetti with porcini cream, crisp pancetta
The next dish of game bird was rather special. Whilst it looked spectacular, it did not meet my expectations. The quail was decently cooked but still felt a little tough. That though was not my complain. The low point would be the black pudding. Something with so much body felt very under seasoned. I was expecting more flavour and spices to shine through the black pudding. Instead it felt a little raw. Mom did not even touch hers. Luckily, the little roasted juniper pear was a nice touch.
Grilled quail with juniper roasted pears with fried black pudding, sherry vinegar
The next dish was one from the sea and it was probably one of my most preferred courses of the night. My fish was well-cooked and I just love the combination of the crushed pea-broad bean that came with it. The colours had good contrast and the presentation was no less spectacular. It was very minimalistic this dish with nothing to disrupt its true flavours. Simple fish, greens and a well toned sauce. But dad found that his fish was not cooked well. His skin for example was slimy as the fish was only browned flesh side. Not a good impression I must say.
Snapper, crushed pea and broad bean with squid ink beurre blanc
The last main course to come was a carbohydrate dish. From the menu, I was expecting a spectacular end to the night. The pasta was called Caramelle pasta with duck confit ragu, orange and rocket salad. Whilst I could let you google up the word “Caramella pasta”, it simply is to me, a ravioli shaped as a candy.
For me, this was where the excitement ended. This dish was for me, one of the worst pasta dishes I have ever eaten. I found the approach very similar to the fish. A purist dish. In a dish like this, execution is key. Looking back, I lamented the elements of the dish. For example, the pasta was not rolled thin enough. I had doughy bits in mine. As for the duck confit ragu, hmmmm perhaps I did not see the word “confit”. I was expecting tender duck mince but obviously this one was going to be shredded. Its flavours were rather boring to end the night. This dish itself could be a palate cleanser. Because it was that boring. The only thing that tasted right was the rocket salad. So sorry for the harsh words but no one around the table was amused =/.
But that was ok. It was not the end yet. For the night, Lamont’s served us a dessert of chocolate and caramel tart. I was happy with what this dish had to offer. Texture, visually, flavour balance and technique. So many things so different yet able to work harmoniously together. Crust was short and the caramel had just the right amount of salt to trigger the happy feeling. Raspberry sorbet was sour but because of the sweetness of the caramel, it worked well for me. All in all, this was rather commendable.
Textures of Valrhona chocolate, caramel tart, raspberry sorbet and bark
The dinner tonight was pretty decent tonight when it comes to flavours. There were hits and misses but some definitely left more of an impression than the rest. While I liked the veal, fish and dessert, the damage left by the pasta was pretty bad. At this level and price of dining, it was ok to be average but not bad. Service here was decently nice with the way the waitress was always there to ensure our cups were full and the plates cleared. One big thing missing though was that professional touch when a dish arrives and every element on the dish is explained in a quick, logical manner. Here, there was none. It was plates on the table and off she goes. I only realised that when I got home. Dad and mom are not really used to things such as black pudding. Imagine their face when I had to explain what it was later on. LOL. Oh well, all is a good and it was a good night out with the family.