Tuesday 29th April - A night out with the Monkey Shoulder Scotch team is never dull. There were horses, scalectrix races and hay bales at Malt Jockey last March, and cannons, bouncy castles and (literally) tonnes of popcorn at Popcorn Flip in November, so I hastily rearranged my dinner reservation when the monkeys came a calling last week.
Several of us gathered in the Goodge Street branch of London Cocktail Club where Brand Ambassador Grant Neave, previously Head Bartender at Monteith's Edinburgh, took the opportunity to showcase his new Monkey Shoulder Scotch serves for 2014. The cocktails included the Illicit Still, Shoulder Shrub and the Blackbird (created with thanks to Ali Burgess at Happiness Forgets).
The drinks will tour the country during the BBQ Bootcamp Monkey Shoulder Trailer Tour which kicks off 9th-11th May in Liverpool, before making its way down to London on 14th & 15th June and reaching its final stop in Edinburgh on 12th & 13th July.
But that wasn't the only reason we were there...
Inside London Cocktail Club, Monkey Shoulder have sneakily built themselves a "phone booth", complete with a London street lamp, a bespoke barrel icebox, and plenty of graffiti (which can be added to). Soon, a phone book full of fake adverts will double as a menu, and will light up as you open it. But best of all, there is a phone attached to the wall which actually serves Monkey Shoulder cocktails out of the receiver. Ridiculous.
The booth is free to book (!) so I would get on the phone (sorry) to London Cocktail Club asap.
|Phone that serves Monkey Shoulder cocktails at London Cocktail Club|
Monkey Shoulder is a malt whisky blended from three of Speyside's finest single malts. The name is rooted in malt whisky history and inspired by the malt men who still turn the malting barley by hand. The skill of the malt man is demonstrated when he turns the malting barley using a shiel (wooden shovel). Years ago, some malt men used to develop a temporary strain known as Monkey Shoulder. Thankfully, practices have changed and the condition no longer exists.
45 ml Monkey, 20 ml cocchi torino, 12.5 ml yellow chartreuse, dash peychaud bitters
Stir and strain into chilled coupe, discarded orange twist
45 ml Monkey, 50 ml raspberry/sherry vinegar/agave shrub, 20ml rose vermouth
Shake and double strain into old fashioned glass with block ice, garnish w/ seasonal berries
45 ml Monkey, 20 ml wee van rose liqueur, 12.5ml amontillido sherry
Stir and strain into chilled coupe, lemon twist garnish
|Monkey Shoulder 2014 serves : Illict Still - Shoulder Shrub - Blackbird|
After several of Grant's fine drinks and a lot of messing around with the phone booth (resisting the urge to skip out the unnecessary glassware middleman when using the receiver), Tim, Natalie and I made our way over to The New Angel Notting Hill for a late night feast. We made use of my new favourite app, Uber Taxi, to speed our way across a tube-struck London for a couple of quid. Sign up with The List promo code, LTEJ8, to receive £10 credit.
Tucked away in the backstreets of Notting Hill, The New Angel is the latest restaurant from Michelin starred chef (and former I'm a Celebrity... contestant!) John Burton-Race.
"Set in a converted Victorian pub in Chepstow Place, Notting Hill, The New Angel offers John's unique style of contemporary European food with a French influence and an eclectic wine list in an elegant dining room."
Arwa completed our quartet, and we wasted no time in unanimously opting for the 7 course tasting menu. The next 3 hours flew by, with the amusing Desiré keeping us well informed as the dishes kept arriving.
We started with Amuse Bouche - Mushroom velouté attractively presented with a moreish parmesan tuile:
|Amuse Bouche - Mushroom Velouté w/ Parmesan Tuile|
Next up was "Asparagus". Wye Valley Asparagus is so on trend, it has its own twitter feed. Here it arrived with leek purée, hollandaise sauce and truffle shavings, similar to a dish at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen last week. The strong flavours worked well together, though an entire pot of hollandaise was slight overkill!
|Wye Valley Asparagus w/ leek purée, hollandaise sauce and truffle|
A pretty plate of fish tartar (salmon, tuna and swordfish) followed, with wasabi emulsion, sesame and soy dressing. The flavours were much subtler here which allowed the fish to do most of the work.
|Salmon, tuna & swordfish tartar w/ wasabi emulsion, sesame & soy dressing|
Next up, roasted breast of quail, pancetta, quail's egg, baby leaf salad and walnuts dressing. Plenty going on here, though the baby leaf salad could perhaps have been something slightly more interesting. The gooey quail's egg was greatly appreciated.
|Roasted breast of quail, pancetta, baby leaf salad & walnut dressing|
My favourite course of the night was the Day boat turbot with cockles, tomato, chilli, coriander and tagliatelle. Familiar flavours cooked without fuss - I would happily have eaten an extra large plate of this.
|Day boat turbot, cockles, tomato, chilli and coriander|
The last of the savoury dishes (and Tim's favourite) was a fillet of Scottish beef, with garlic snails, broccoli purée, spinach, and bone marrow & red wine jus. It was the richest dish in a well paced / judged tasting menu, and the portion was rather generous as was the case all night.
|Fillet of Scottish beef, garlic snails, bone marrow & red wine jus|
"Pre-dessert" was course #6 (not counting the Amuse Bouche). 3 mysterious lollipops arrived and we attempted to guess at the flavours. It was a fun interlude after 5 pretty serious courses, and also served as a palate cleanser of sorts.
|Mystery "pre-dessert" lollipops|
The final course on the menu was "Strawberry" - Gariguette strawberry sable with lemon curd and basil. As a pesto lover, I couldn't think of a better way to round off the meal. I might have to try and recreate this one.
|Gariguette strawberry sable with lemon curd & basil|
Although we didn't stick around for coffee (midnight was approaching), Desiré was kind enough to bring us some Petits Fours - Raspberry Macaroon, Dark Chocolate Truffle & Walnut Ganache were a colourful end to a delightful meal.
It's obviously not cheap at £75, but Michelin starred chefs and Notting Hill fine dining come at a price! I haven't had too much experience at this end of the restaurant scale, so I won't overanalyse. The New Angel will no doubt be compared to the 2 Michelin Starred Ledbury nearby, recently voted 10th best restaurant in the world, which has a £110 8 course tasting menu. We all left happy after a night of confident cooking and excellent service.
The New Angel officially opens on 7th May. To make your reservation, call 0207 221 7620.
Other exciting recent London restaurant openings: James Lowe's Lyle's, Simon Rogan's Fera at Claridge's, Stevie Parle's Rotorino, Ollie Dabbous' Barnyard, Florence Knight's Polpetto, Nuno Mendes' Chiltern Firehouse, and Jason Atherton's City Social.