I never made it to Salon Des Saveurs before it disappeared down the Suwanee. I had even gotten so far as phoning to make a reservation a good few months ago but the place was booked out solidly for a whole month! I was impressed until I learned, later, that this was due to some kind of internet deal. I suppose the writing was already on the walls when a relatively new, high end restaurant was prostituting itself in this way.
But the premises, which formerly housed the lovely Darwins, has now reopened as Whitefriar Grill. We tried it on Saturday evening and were most impressed by our experience. I had booked our table in advance and had kept our destination a secret from himself. He was a bit surprised to see the word ‘Grill’ in the name of the restaurant. I have to agree with him on this count as the word Grill conjures up images of nineteen seventies burger joints or Texas steak houses. I think they should drop the word Grill from the title and simply call it Whitefriar.
We were greeted and shown to our table by a friendly waitress. She brought us menus and described the specials of the evening. Then she offered us water – still, sparkling or tap. We chose tap. Before ordering our meal we succumbed to the tempting cocktail menu. I ordered a Camden Banger – rum, pineapple banana, chili and Mr W had an Espresso Martini. The cocktails were reasonably priced and very tasty but the lighting was much too dim for taking photos.
A very pleasant young man came to take our order. After much deliberation I decided to order the bone marrow, with oxtail jam and green salsa to start and the rabbit for mains. My loving partner ordered rabbit livers from the daily special menu and, unusually for him, a steak. We also ordered a bottle of white wine.
The starters arrived and were nicely presented. My ‘bone’ was cut in half longitudinally and was about ten centimetres long. The marrow was really nice and the flavour brought me back to my childhood with memories of sucking the marrow out of bones in stews. A long forgotten taste indeeed. The oxtail jam was flavoursome but it didn’t really spread, it was really just a lump of stewed oxtail placed in a small dish. The salsa was very tasty. I tried the rabbit’s liver and it was beautifully tender. If I was returning I would definitely order it. It was really good.
My main course of rabbit was probably the best rabbit dish I’ve ever tasted. The meat was succulent and soft and full of flavour. It almost fell from the bone and it melted in the mouth. It came with mash and sauce in a large bowl. It was a real winter warmer and an absolute winner in my book. Himself really enjoyed his steak although it was served with a large portion of rocket which just looked like a plate filler (which it was) and fantastic chips. I think rocket has had it’s day and should be used very sparingly in restaurants. It’s not that I dislike rocket, I love it, but it’s not easy to swallow. Also it is just too bloody ubiquitous. The helpful waiter suggested a glass of red wine to accompany the steak and himself had one.
Despite a good after dinner break we couldn’t manage desserts so we finished our evening with tea and coffee. We really enjoyed our experience at Whitefriar Grill. The service was exceptionally friendly and helpful. I mentioned earlier that the lights were quite low, these were brightened a little later in the evening because a few of the customers couldn’t see the keypad on the credit card machine and punched in the wrong numbers! Teething problems of this type are definitely excusable.