There’s fine dining, and there’s fine dining. And if you understand a thing or two about food excellence; your know what I’m talking about. Chef Martin Carabott’s menu at Hide was ridiculously good. I highly doubt my humble words will showcase the pure excellence that we experienced during our Tasting Menu experience; with off-menu items; old-menu returns and experimental mastery that made me a happy little traveller.
We started things correctly, the way it should be with bread and Champagne – because, why ever not; bread done well is a course on its own, and here that highlight was deserving. The Bread Basket was extravagant; showcasing a Wild Famed Baguette with a light, gummy texture; in all the best ways. The Courgette Focaccia delivered a chunky interior and nettle exterior – so, so hearty and a recipe I wouldn’t mind stealing… imagine that for breakfast everyday. Be still my beating heart! The Smoked Tomato Puffed Brioche also impressed with pure tomato flavour, sweetness, and a delicate spice. But perhaps the most intriguing of the bread collection, the Corn Cracker. Surprising the senses with that textural crunch; holding a spiced and a nutty aroma, surprisingly pairing well with an elegant glass of Champagne.
Snacks from the kitchen are always a welcome treat; this is where I feel Chefs dip into that creativity superpower, consuming all influence, wacky ideas and daring ambition to dabble with something new. At Hide, we experienced the innovative cocktail of Tomato Essence with Lovage, slowly progressing the meal with a refreshing start, with raw lovage aroma and clean tomato notes; this was absolutely heavenly. A tidy palate cleanser, with no presentational fuss, just absolute artistry in molecular gastronomy and ingredient creativity.
Another snack that I will be ever grateful for are Chef Carabott’s Beef Wraps, or Beef Tacos, or Modern Cheeseburger, or whatever you want to call it; just pray to the gods of all that is good that this is your chosen snack for your visit – because, after reading this, let’s face it; you’re going to need to book a trip to London and a table at HIDE. Nasturtium leaves always make me happy; they’re so not an afterthought here; diving deep into the cheeseburger-vibes in flavour; cemented with the melting beef jelly. Dream.
Giving the Gem Hearts a miss in this review would be a shame, yes, another snack, and yes it was also excellent. Snacks are my favourite part of the meal, indefinitely; so this fun, rip and dip of dressed gem lettuce hearts, acidic and nutty to resonate with the beautifully garnished dairy-based dip topped with pine nuts and an allconsuming salt kick; working so wonderfully with the lettuce’s acid.
The fish course elevates the experience with a prawn tartare featuring British prawns, caviar for saltiness, and cream cheese enhancing crustacean sweetness. A touch of seaweed gave the dish a grounded flavour; with citrus pops to trigger all the flavours with the right spark. The mouthfeel is smooth and clean, and pairs elegantly with the rosé that accompanied our first fish introduction.
A prestigious Gerard Bertrand Clos du Temple AOP Laungedoc with rose floral notes and white-flesh stone fruit, offering a mineral complexity and lasting freshness that pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of the prawn, the salinity of the caviar and the acid of the citrus pops.
Grand as they come, the King Crab – this off menu item might have a different name altogether, but it’s as royal and regal as they come; so my pet name for this dish will suffice. A giant crab shell approaches your table, it’s presence taking centre stage; and sat atop the hollowed out out king; a dainty tartlet; buttery and flaky with an equally buttery and equally dainty yet generous bite of shredded crab.
The juxtaposition of the shell and the wee bite of deliciousness is rather grand. The rosé kept flowing and on came the scallops.
The Scallops with Shisho were a crudo bite of heaven. Thick, yet manageable sashimi discs, delicately placed around the circumference of the plate; where a green pool of magic lay as a bed for excellence. The kamut dressing, the touch of shiso and the sweet salinity and mineralogy of the scallops contrasted with the fresh and earthy notes in the picked watermelon radish acting as the perfect garnish. A delicate, fragrant, and confusing flower sat atop the scallops presented to us – but for the life of me, I can’t place it. I’ve even done my research and can’t place it. Chef, a little help here?
Moving to the pasta course, the Mushroom Triangoli stands out with pickled seps, a light fragrance, and a salty, rich 36-aged Parmigiano Reggiano sauce. Who could ever ask for more? Oh, wait… let’s add some (read: quite a lot of) fresh truffle shavings. That’s right, think of the perfect pasta pocket, filled with a delicious creamy interior, that pickled cute, little mushroom to cut through the thickness and richness of the aged… Parm… sauce and tower it with truffle earthiness and deepens. Thank. You. Chef! Served alongside my favourite, a clean yet oaky Chardonnay.
Moving on with a Pinot Blanc and the Scottish Halibut in the next fish course showcased a textured dish with zucchini’s acidity, herbal notes, and a clean, mineral oyster addition with a near-rooty kind of taste. The flowers on the dish add a prettiness that pairs so nicely with the citrus crust atop the fish. This dish is fragrant and full in piquant flavours; offering a perkiness to the meal – and right at the perfect time. Meat courses will be creeping in shortly.
The only ‘downside’ to a Tasting Menu, is the generous amounts of food that you will need to be prepared to eat. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it! But jokes aside; it is quite a challenge at times; and when Chefs pace the meal correctly, pair with light and complimentary wines or drinks and give dishes breathing room with acid, citrus, and other astringent notes; your palate gets a chance to breathe and prepare for the next course. This was so happily achieved here at HIDE.
The meat course, featuring duck, impresses with stupendous skin, tender meat, and a balanced blend of bitterness from greens, tartness from cherries, and richness from blood pudding. Accompaniments like fig, amaranth, and a delicate, fruity purée contribute to a symphony of flavours that were all married together with the Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Pérez, Bierzo Tinto, Ultreia St Jacques. A luscious red with tomato leaf, coffee bean and red fruit hints; giving a complex yet entirely unique compliment to the duck dish. The Duck and Black Pudding was a real contender in ‘favourite of the night’ – not sure I can pick a solo winner today though.
We ended on a sweet note with a mind boggling Praline Ice Cream served on a large rectangular ice cube, a candied pine cone sat by its side and it was delicious to say the least. Waiting for photography to be taken of this dish was painful, every little bit of icecream that melted on the plate and not in my mouth was torture; but I can guarantee, enough was scraped off to ensure I got the ‘full’ experience. A Casatella Siciliana (one of my all-time favourite desserts), did not miss the mark; in fact it shot it head on and smashed it out of the park!
What I loved most about this menu was the creativity and wackiness; even though the restaurant’s aim itself is in no way meant to be wacky; this ridiculous amount of talent can old be conjured up in the mind of a wacky kitchen wizard. A compliment which is high up there for me. Kudos Chef Martin; the meal was incredible, the experience perfect.
Kristina Cassar Dowling
HORECA Reviews are based on the experience of the diners on their particular visit. The nature of these reviews is based on the publication’s expertise in the industry, but also highlights the reviewer’s opinions and preferences. The aim of HORECA Reviews is to showcase culinary talent, to give the hospitality industry insight on their patron’s experience and areas for improvement as well as to celebrate the strive for excellence within the sector.