I owe a lot to the Great British Menu on BBC2. I think it’s one of the shows that initially really got me into fine dining. I’ve always loved high quality food, of course, but getting to know the chefs behind some of the best restaurants in the country made me really want to try their dishes and expand my understanding and knowledge of the British restaurant scene. It was the inspiration for me visiting Tom Kerridge’s 2* Michelin pub The Hand & Flowers in Marlow last Christmas, what compelled me to initially visit Tom’s Kitchen (by Tom Aitkins) in Chelsea, and what initially brought the ‘Social’ Collection by Jason Atherton onto my radar (before the Michelin stars did).
It is also what has made me desperate to try the food of Marcus Wareing, legendary chef and owner of Two Michelin stars. Unfortunately Wareing’s highly acclaimed restaurant (named ‘Marcus’, obviously) situated within The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge is a little out of my price range, and so his food has remained out of reach. And it still is out of reach sadly, but I am now able to get a small taste (quite literally) of a menu curated (though not cooked) by the man himself (and others) from newly opened Tredwell’s, which is conveniently located less than a stones throw from my office!
Tredwell’s is named after Agatha Christie’s locally-set The Seven Dials Mystery. It gets points alone for referencing a bit of local culture (from me, at least) and it is naturally a great spot to go for a pre or post theatre meal.
When Tredwell’s first opened, it was onto something amazing. A menu that gave you the option to let your palate explore, with dishes broken up into eight different categories; Snacks, Pots & Jars, Bread & Buns, Bowls, Grills & Smokes, Salads & Vegetables and Desserts. Most dishes came in a small or large option, the price usually halving if you chose the former. The wide selection of smaller dishes meant you could try more of the menu which is truly fantastic, and this was the menu we chose from on our first visit. Sadly however, the menu has changed twice since, and the magic of being able to choose several different dishes to satisfy every craving has disappeared, as the menu has now changed to the standard starters, mains, sides and desserts that you can see in any other ordinary restaurant. Disappointed doesn’t even cover it.
As a result of these multiple changes, most of the dishes I have had the great pleasure of trying are no longer even available. These dishes include Baked Beets, Goats Cheese & Walnuts (beautiful), Crispy Prawns (fried and gorgeous), a Squash, Goats Cheese & Grape Salad (perfectly balanced), Smoked Pork Cheeks with Cauliflower (melt in the mouth!) and Onglet & Mushroom Ketchup (scrape-the-plate-clean, divine!) I can’t even begin to understand why the kitchen chose to discard these wonderful dishes. I am perplexed!
Luckily the Onglet dish hasn’t been completely lost from the menu, although it has been transformed from a smaller dish to a large (costing £15), and instead of Onglet you will now find a Hanger Steak sitting atop the beautiful mushroom ketchup which was both sweet, lightly spicy (thanks, we were told, to green peppercorns) and meaty at the same time. Although here’s hoping that since they changed the menu they have also chosen to change the presentation, as the ketchup did heavily resemble a poo that had been smeared across the plate (apologies for being so crass!), although luckily the taste didn’t match this!
The first time we tried the Chicken Liver Mousse with Bacon Jam & Toast it was £5 for a small and £8 for a large, but now the portion is only available in one size (small) and will cost you £6.50. You do the math, cos I can’t! The mousse is so light a fluffy it almost floats into the mouth. At least it would, if I wasn’t so keen to spoon it in in massive heaps before it gets the chance because it is utterly delightful. I’m currently suffering with a new brace and have been told to avoid crunchy bread, so as i’m unable to eat the toast, what choice do I have anyway?! The bacon jam is nicely salty but doesn’t manage to beat the flavour of the chicken liver. This is a perfect start to a meal (if you’re going to force me to do it that way!)
The Pulled Pork Belly, Ginger and Apple Sliders (£3 each, although last week were £2.50!) are a two or three bites sized delight. So much flavour has been packed into this “snack” sized dish (sorry, I forgot before starters you could also choose to order snacks), with juice oozing out from the middle as you take your first bite. This is a dish that could and should be upgraded to a bigger size, although I can understand the reluctance… London has enough awesome burgers already. At least sliders are more few and far between.
The polenta fries are beautifully and perfectly uniformed, lightly crisp and come with a lovely smokey tomato salsa (£4) however I must admit that the Chipotle Chicken Wings were a huge disappointment, lacking in flavour and innovation, but it would appear that these have now been replaced by Sticky Chilli Chicken Wings anyway (£5) so maybe there’s one improvement from this in the main devastating menu overhaul!
It was only two days between my first and second visit to this restaurant, and I even sent my Dad and Godfather here for lunch on the day between my visits; that is how much I enjoyed it. There have been a few reviews published that weren’t too impressed with this restaurant (The Evening Standard had very few positive things to say) but I planned to write a positive review as soon as I left the first time I dined; asides from the food being fantastic, the service is attentive, helpful, polite and friendly, the decor is well thought out (there’s a gorgeous clock made from cutlery which hangs proudly by the floor to ceiling window that I instantly loved!) relaxed and chic and the atmosphere is chilled and unpretentious…
But so many edits to the menu means they have essentially edited themselves out of what was planned to be a glowing 5 star review citing no faults what-so-ever (other than the wings, but I could have forgiven those!) It’s a huge shame. Tredwell’s has gone from being an exciting new restaurant with a fun and innovative menu concept to… well… just an ordinary run-of-the-mill restaurant with a few better than OK/special dishes. That’s a pretty drastic step back in the space of 3 months. Had no-one ever told them that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t need fixing? Because if it didn’t when I first dined, i’d say it certainly does now…