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Wednesday, 12 November 2014
Words & Photography by Felicity Spector and Luiz Hara
The setting is stunning: the view, a vista of London framed by the Thames and the dome of St Paul's. High up on the sixth floor of London's Tate Modern, this year's Young British Foodie Award winners have staged a restaurant takeover, with a set three course menu every Friday and Saturday night throughout November.
We were invited to a lunchtime preview, along with YBF winning chef Tomos Parry, who devised three of the dishes himself and consulted with the Tate's chefs on the rest of the menu. The idea was to incorporate as many YBF champion products as possible, from Argan oil to Mexican cheese - and one of the desserts comes courtesy of Baking category winner Noisette Bakehouse.
We started with some dangerously delicious E5 Bakehouse Hackney Wild sourdough, trying hard to avoid filling up on the huge chunks of moist, tangy bread before the rest of the meal arrived. I wish I'd saved some for my excellent starter - grilled leeks thyme browned butter with goats curd: it would have been ideal to mop up the soft mounds of cheese.
Other starters included a salad of smoked duck from the Artisan Smokehouse, decorated with some crispy fried quails eggs, and a large platter of charcuterie.
I ordered the vegetarian main: a vast bowl of creamy risotto, with plenty of beautifully cooked wild mushrooms and some slightly unneccessary slices of rye toast with more melted cheese. Hearty and substantial: it really didn't need the extra bread.
I could see others enjoying a plate of cod adventurously paired with chorizo and a mango and black mustard seed confit, and another of Tomos's dishes - confit and grilled Welsh lamb belly with quinoa, yoghurt and barbecued chunks of cucumber. All part of his bid to showcase the best of his native Welsh produce.
By this point I was pretty full, but the desserts were on their way: I shared a plate of baked cheesecake made with blueberries and Gringa Dairy's queso fresco - the first time it's been used in a dessert - and the Noisette Bakehouse frangipane tart with plums and shortbread crumb. I had been expecting a toasted cornmeal cake with peach curd, but the slice of tart - with some whipped cream - was moister than it looked, and the slices of poached plum on the side were an autumnal treat.
Tate head chef Tony Martin came out for a quick chat - telling me he'd been really inspired by the new ingredients and planned to use several of them again on his regular menu, especially the Argan oil and some of the cheeses. A fitting endorsement of the quality of the young producers discovered by the YBF team.
At £47.50 for three courses, with a 'Stellacello' cocktail on arrival, this certainly isn't cheap: reflecting the prices on the regular Tate Modern menu, and the admittedly unrivalled setting.
For another £14 you can get matching wines or beers curated by award winning sommelier Hamish Anderson. Bookings are by telephone or email, see details below - and if you can't make it, then you can always try Tomos Parry's new project - Mayfair grill Kitty Fisher's, which opens next month.
The YBFs Tate Modern Restaurant Take-Over launched on Friday 7th November and will run every Friday and Saturday night until 7th December. A three course set menu including an arrival cocktail, bread and coffee is priced at £47.50. For more information and to make a booking call 020 7887 8888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org