"... filled with adventure and fun – and the most marvellous seafood."Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
My dear friend decided that he wanted to take me to dinner – to somewhere that I had not been before (which is not easy as I spend much time reviewing restaurants). So he did his research and came up with this quaint seafood restaurant in Kennington.
He warned me that I should not be concerned by its outer appearance – a blue sign looking more fast-food than haute cuisine. But when we rang the bell and were welcomed inside by the French female maitre d’ it was like stepping onto a boat. Yes, really.
It’s tiny (no more than 20 covers). The walls, floor and ceiling are all wood. There are nets and those glass balls on every surface as well as French fishing signs. There are port holes along one wall through which you can watch fish floating around serenely.
The waiting staff dress as cabin crew – smart white jackets with gold braid on the shoulders. They were friendly and discrete. My companion advised me that I had no need to look at the menu as we were to enjoy the eight course gourmet dinner with lobster (£54.50). So I focused instead on the excellent chilled Sancerre 'Fouassier' (£34.50).
We enjoyed some bread with salted butter and waited for our feast to commence. Now as I had been told that I wasn’t meant to be reviewing, I didn’t take notes. So these are my recollections.
The first course was a light crab salad – delightful as this is one of my favourite foods. It was light and tasty. Then came some truly magnificent chunks of butterfish (crispy skin on the outside, firm but tender white meat inside) in a sea of creamy spinach sauce. We were given lobster bibs and served with succulent lobster halves and all the tools needed to tackle them.
Other courses included a three cheese tartlet (decorated with thin lines of balsamic paste) and sea bass stuffed with plump mussels. Each served with a wonderful sauce and very few vegetables. I admit that I was replete after about four courses but soldiered on as the food was so marvellous. There was a lemon sorbet palate refresher during the proceedings, my Nordic friend accepted the splash of vodka over this which he was offered and I admit now that I should have done the same.
The last two courses were desserts. A light crepe wrapped around delicious crème brulee and then tart winter berries marinated in ginger and something distinctly alcoholic. It was, indeed, a feast.
There was an eclectic mix of other customers – a stunningly attractive and slim young woman in a backless dress with her partner who tucked into a sharing “fruits de mer” platter. A couple of men who looked entirely at home in their lobster bibs. A small group of foreign people who were attacking a huge dish of what looked like fish casserole with vigour.
Visiting the loos is an experience. Up a narrow wooden staircase where all you can hear are distant sea gulls. There’s an actual ship’s head at the top of the stairs and the loos feel like you are at sea. Thankfully, no swaying.
At the end of the meal, the chef came out to ask how we had found the food (he had no idea I was a reviewer). He is clearly very proud of the establishment which has been open for over 20 years. He then invited us to visit the night club next door – owned by a family member – which, in a loft space high above the lower ground brasserie featured a jazz-come-soul singer. We decided to check it out and I found myself in the intimate Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec. And despite the effort of climbing all those stairs, after a reviving gin and tonic we were laughing and dancing with the small group of people there. Astonishing.
Whether or not you like the quirky ship-themed décor, the food is the focus here. My companion said he had searched for “hidden gems” and he sure found one. It was a truly memorable mariner evening filled with adventure and fun – and the most marvellous seafood. I think the owner’s gonna need a bigger boat! And I can still hear those sea gull cries.
KimT reviewed The Lobster Pot on Tue 16 Dec 2014