La Dame de Pic proves French cuisine really can travel
Many have tried but few of the world’s best chefs have made a success of opening in London. Can the most decorated female chef on the planet, Anne-Sophie Pic, do any better?
- By Ben Winstanley -
When big hotels employ big chefs to run their restaurants, food lovers collectively hold their breath. Ever heard the phrase ‘too many execs spoil the broth’? No? That’s because few of the world’s culinary elite would dream of getting tangled up in the poisoned chalice of a hotel opening.
Then madame Anne-Sophie Pic floored London’s restaurant community by announcing that she would be opening La Dame de Pic in the new Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square.
The Pic name may be unfamiliar, but it’s a biggie. Granddaughter of legendary French chef André Pic and daughter of former three-Michelin-starred chef Jacques Pic, Anne-Sophie is the most decorated female chef in the world, with a stunning six Michelin stars to her name.
Tucked away in a corner of the old Port of London Authority building, her restaurant has a more relaxed dining room than you might expect from such a revered chef. On the plate, however, there is no shortage of star power. Skip the a la carte and pile into the six-course tasting menu – the exact opposite instruction I normally advise – it’s worth the excess.
My entry into Pic’s culinary style comes in the form of a clever crab dish composed of the sweet white meat, steamed in sobacha tea, laid atop a clementine jelly-shrouded savoury dill panacotta. It breaks your heart to eat something so pretty until it hits the taste buds. Later, a Scottish langoustine, supped up by a basting in shellfish butter, is served with carrots and a pine tree bouillon in a left-field combination that brings out the sweet and earthy profiles of the crustacean.
It’s different, it’s unusual, but dammit, it all works
Pic’s globally influenced style of cuisine is shepherding her native country away from traditional French fine dining, and her complex plates show the extent of her culinary travels while keeping you guessing as to whether it may have European or Asian origins at its core.
Berlingots, a Provençal boiled sweet, is here appropriated by Pic to describe fine pasta parcels filled with smoked Pélardon cheese and the more exotic tonka bean and Madagascan voatsiperifery pepper. Dessert, too, plays with Japanese sencha green tea, grapefruit, and hibiscus meringue scented with the rose-like essential oil, geranium roast, to create a highly perfumed bouquet of flavours.
It’s different, it’s unusual, but dammit, it all works. You’ve got to hand it to Pic: French cuisine famously doesn’t travel well but, it goes to show, there ain’t nothing like a dame.
See more at ladamedepiclondon.co.uk