"a restaurant with bags of potential"Review Rating: Reviewed by James Whiting
A blustery miserable rain-soaked Wednesday evening was brightened up by Clapham's Trinity, a restaurant with bags of potential, and a well priced 6 course tasting menu. The small dining room was full, yet there was no feeling of being cramped once seated. The same sadly cannot be said of the sofas where our table of four struggled to fit whilst waiting. However, once the food arrived it was hard to begrudge the maitre'd squeezing in as many diners as possible to sample what the clearly talented kitchen had to offer.
Canapés of organic radishes with a smoked cod's roe dip were simultaneously rustic yet refined. The flawless red orbs seemed polished to a dazzling shine and gave a satisfying peppery crunch that worked in harmony with the salty richness of the roe. Even the radish leaves appeared manicured and were indeed good enough to eat. Warm bread arrived soon after the radishes along with a smear of churned butter spread on a pebble, seemingly the must have table decoration this year. The bread was piping hot, nicely flavoured, although perhaps a touch oily. The kitchen also sent out a bowel of burrata, a homemade mozzarella stuffed with trimmings and cream. This tasted great, and the maitre'd assured us that it was very "trendy" in London at the moment. What was not trendy was our table's messy attempts to cut it up with the teaspoons provided...
The first course screamed Spring, and again blended the quirky with the classic. A bowl containing nothing but a tiny brightly coloured streak of ingredients and a delicate wild garlic flower, was soon submerged beneath a vivid green wild garlic and new potato Vichyssoise poured from a dairy crest milk bottle. The soup was refreshingly cold, while light and clean on the palette and the garlic did not overpower. Another bottle was left by our waiter/milkman if seconds were desired. The flavours deserved another helping, although that perhaps was not the wisest of decisions with five more courses left to come.
Sadly the charred mackerel course had sold out - devastating news to a mackerel lover - however a replacement of tuna was offered. Another option was to go off-piste and trial Trinity's signature trotter on toast. The crackling had the desired snap, and the fried quail's egg was suitably runny. The plate provided a pleasing bit of food, however, the dish lacked something. Pig was there, but perhaps not as to the fore as a big trotter fan was expecting. It must be said this was a very minor gripe. The tuna was the superior choice. The thin slice was expertly seared and beautifully rare. There was a distinct oriental flavour to the dish, and the bed of a single charred pak choi leaf was both clever in presentation and flavour, finally an avocado mousse brought everything together nicely.
The next bowl to arrive on the table seemed to contain a small rock pool. An enormous perfectly caramelised scallop sat next to some sea vegetables, a solitary mussel and clam, and a blob of mussel emulsion. All the flavours blended superbly and the pile of edible "sand" added a great texture to the dish.
The main course was a piece of beef that was the consistency of butter, a great piece of technical cooking. However, the supporting cast couldn't match up to the meat. Unfortunately the carrots were a bit closer to raw than al dente, the red wine sauce was very strong and the green smear across the plate had little flavour.
Curiously the palette cleanser was one of the stars of the menu. The frozen natural yogurt was clean on the tongue and the purée added the much needed sharpness. Finally the honeycomb gave the crunch and a sprinkling of bee pollen was an interesting first for the entire table.
The finale was a chocolate delice with coconut sorbet. This was smooth and incredibly rich, however, the sorbet did cut through the dark chocolate. This was a good end to the tasting menu, but not a world beater.
It is clear to see why Trinity are on the rise, and the tenacious kitchen sent out some great food. The chef also adapted well to an improvised vegetarian menu, with the gnocchi the star of the show. The quirky touches such as the milk bottle were good to see. Building on this identity would only improve what was a top notch restaurant and a brilliant way to escape the miserable early May weather.
James Whiting reviewed Trinity Restaurant on Tue 22 May 2012