As someone who grew up going to the farm for fresh produce in America, I can always tell when ingredients just ooze freshness. 1771 Restaurant was the perfect encapsulation of quality British cuisine using the freshest ingredients in a comfortable, minimalistic setting.
Located in Chelsea, 1771 Restaurant takes its name from the year the area was first established. It’s chef Mark Jarvis’s latest adventure, with a focus on fresh and seasonal ingredients paired with an expertly curated wine and cocktail list. Jarvis was born in Buckinghamshire and worked his way up the culinary ranks. This included working for Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and as head chef at Blueprint Café / The Bingham Hotel in London.
We chose to sit by the window, with three comfortable cushions around me as I sank in, immediately comfortable after a long week. The golden tones paired with the warm lighting and the flickering of candles brought upon a relaxed atmosphere, especially with the piano jazz playing softly in the background. The wick chairs added a casual neighbourhood flair to the sophisticated ambience.
We decided to have the tasting menu and two spritzes, the 1771 and the Perfect Lover. The tasting menu is based around seasonal and fresh ingredients which showcases the talent of Jarvis. The focaccia bread with butter immediately set the tone for the rest of the evening. It was fresh, warm and simply done right. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed bread and butter that much.
The next set of plates consisted of mini trout tacos with a striking mango chilli kombucha that cut through beautifully, celeriac with a creamy mushroom custard and spider crab with apple kombucha on a delicate cracker. The spider crab was plated beautifully atop sunflower seeds, almost as if it was depicting a pebble beach.
I was amazed that even though the dishes themselves were small and only meant as small bites, the details within the dishes were carefully selected and really came through. These three dishes set off a brilliant tone for the rest of the dinner, leaving us excited for what was to come.
Our favourite dish was a cauliflower mushroom, which was actually a mushroom cooked in three different ways with a cauliflower puree. The crunchiness of the tempura with the softness of the puree was a joyful explosion of flavours and textures.
The two main dishes consisted of halibut and koji aged beef, both paired with fresh vegetables. They were cooked expertly, crafted in a way that freshness and heaviness of protein worked in harmony rather than fighting each other. Cutting into the beef felt like cutting into creamy butter, and the colours of the halibut dish were a feast for the eyes too. At this point, I was getting very full, but I told myself to make room for the desserts that I had been looking forward to.
And good thing I did. To end, a tangy yoghurt sorbet, hazelnut ice cream, rich chocolate cake, a mini macaroon and a fresh warm madeleine all served as great finishers to a very enjoyable meal. I personally loved the sorbet, with the rhubarb and dill pairing well, culminating in a great palette cleanser.
Our experience at 1771 was enhanced by the wonderful and attentive staff. The cosy atmosphere acted as a backdrop to a seemingly understated but brilliant meal with different combinations of flavours and freshness. Every dish was plated with decadence and attention, contributing to the definition of fine dining, yet none of the food seemed pretentious or over-the-top.
When I return to the USA, I will be thinking of this meal again every time I go to the farm now, but surely won’t be able to cook anything as wonderful as Jarvis does.
To discover more, visit: 1771restaurant.com
All imagery courtesy of 1771 Restaurant.
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