Thursday, 20 November 2014

Dinner In The Company of Greatness

Marco Pierre White has always been regarded as a great chef. Marco was dubbed the first 'celebrity chef', the enfant terrible of the UK restaurant scene, and at the time he was the youngest chef to be awarded three Michelin stars at the age of 33. After many years of pursuing his ambitions before becoming disillusioned by how the chase for success was intruding on his personal life, Marco made the decision to retire from the kitchen and ultimately handed back his well earned stars. At the time he was quoted as saying "I was judged by people who had less knowledge than me,so what was it truly worth? I gave Michelin inspectors too much respect and I belittled myself. I had three options: I could be a prisoner of my world and continue to work six days a week, I could live a lie and charge high prices and not be behind the stove, or I could give my stars back and spend time with my children and re-invent myself".
These days Marco Pierre White is better known as a restauranteur and somewhat reluctant TV star. Perhaps more recognised as the face of Knorr stock cubes (a product that he has used in his cooking for many years), and also as the head chef on Hell's Kitchen. Marco has also appeared as a guest judge on Masterchef Australia and more recently hosting Marco Pierre White's Kitchen Wars.
Clearly a man who likes to keep busy, Marco has recently signed an agreement with Sanguine Hospitality which will see up to 50 new restaurants using his name across the UK and Ireland. One of the new restaurants was the recently opened Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, housed within Glasgow's Hotel Indigo. Shortly after the opening of the new restaurant, news broke that the great man himself would be making the trip to Glasgow when he would be on hand to offer diners a photo opportunity as well as a chance to say hello to "the godfather of modern cooking".
As soon as I heard that Marco was coming to Glasgow I made sure that myself and Nicola had a reservation. There was no way that I could let an opportunity to meet one of the world's highest regarded chefs pass me by.
On the night, we arrived at Hotel Indigo on Waterloo Street in Glasgow with plenty of time to grab a drink before dinner. Marco Pierre White was sitting in the bar area signing books, aprons and taking time to let diners have their photo taken alongside himself. We had time before our reservation so we took the chance to say hello and make an attempt at some small talk with Marco. Although my nerves were jangling I think I held it together better than the last time I met current and well regarded Michelin starred chef, Jason Atherton. I fact, I even managed to slip a Gerry's Kitchen business card to Marco and ask whether he would answer '5 Questions', so watch this space!
Before long it was time to take our seats in the restaurant and sample the specially created set menu that had been put together by the steakhouse's head chef, Liam Kerr.
First up was a little selection of canapés including cheese gougères and the cutest little jar of potted and shredded ham with crostini and an accompanying glass of champagne. The tiny morsels were packed with flavour and done a great job of whetting our appetites for the feast that was about to be served.
The five course menu kicked of in style with a cauliflower velouté topped with crispy shallots and shredded beef. Me and Nicola love cauliflower soup and this velouté was well seasoned, smooth and creamy. The soft shredded beef and crispy shallots added a big punch of well matched flavour and a great balance of texture. We were served a matching wine with the start, which we were not expecting, and enjoyed an easy to drink glass of South African Chenin Blanc.
Next up was a starter of Loch Fyne salmon, poached in olive oil with pickled cucumber, oyster and watercress condiment. The salmon was poached perfectly, the olive oil keeping the fillet soft and tender, whilst the pickled cucumber salad gave good contrast to the salty oyster and the accompanying citrus sauce.
The main event was 28 day dry aged fillet steak, braised oxtail, spinach purée, pommes Dauphine and horseradish. Two pieces of perfectly cooked, medium rare fillet steak was served on a rich bed of puréed spinach. The strong iron flavour of the spinach was well matched with a mound of shredded oxtail. Pomme Dauphine are made by mixing mashed potato with savoury choux pastry before deep frying. The choux pastry helps give the Dauphine a light airy texture which worked well with the rich meaty flavours on the plate. My only complaint about the main course is that I would have liked a few more pommes Dauphine on my plate - they were delicious! An accompanying homemade horseradish sauce was served inside a scooped out marrow bone with a rich red wine jus was served on the side. The balance of flavours on this well seasoned plate was fantastic, so much so that we didn't need to reach for the salt or pepper.
The main course also had a matched wine served which was a full bodied Argentinian Malbec.
At this point in the meal, there was brief break in service as we made our way back out to the bar area where Marco personalised signed aprons, taking time to make mine out to Gerry's Kitchen! He also signed our menus from the night and allowed more photos to be taken. If you look really closely, you can see that Marco almost smiles!
When we went back to our table, our dessert was served and waiting for us. The Tonka bean pannacotta, Sauternes jelly, honeycomb, pear brunoise and chicory Anglaise was an intriguing pudding to say the least. I'd never heard of Tonka beans before, let alone taste them but when I plunged my spoon into the layered dessert in front of me I was met with a flavour that was incredibly more-ish. This was an proper grown up dessert, very creamy and not too sweet but the crumbled honeycomb, and Sauternes jelly in the base of the glass did bring a playful element to the pudding.
The last course of the night was a simple cheese board served with coffee. There were a two cheeses on the platter, the first a creamy Brie de Meaux, the second cheese was Blue Monday, a blue cheese made by musician turned cheesemaker, Alex James. Now neither of us are fans of blue cheese but the former Blur man has definitely changed our mind as his Blue Monday was really tasty. The cheeses were accompanied with thin oatcakes, a selection of chopped nuts, seeds & dates, and a slice of quince paste. Despite the fact that we were both feeling pretty full after dinner, the cheese board was just the right size to round of the evening meal.
Dinner on the night cost £90 per head which might seem expensive but when you take into account the fact that the meal included champagne and canapés, a specially created five course menu with coffee, two glasses of matched wine, a photo opportunity with a cooking legend, and a personalised signed apron - I think that the night represented great value. The food was fantastic, the service was very attentive and we met a man who has been recognised as one of the world's greatest chefs - overall it's not a bad way to spend a Wednesday evening in Glasgow and definitely one of the best nights out that me and Nicola have had in ages!
This was the first that myself and Nicola had eaten at any of the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse's and we were hugely impressed by the food that chef Liam Kerr served on the night. So much so, that we are planning on heading back in this coming Friday to take them up on their Mo-Burger promotion, an offer running through November where a donation will be made from every Mo-Burger sold to the Movember UK campaign. I can't grow a great moustache but I'm sur that I can manage to eat a tasty burger for a great cause.
Keep an eye on the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Glasgow website for news on special offers or you can keep up to date on Facebook or Twitter.

 Written by Gerry HaughianWritten by Gerry Haughian

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