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Friday 7 November 2014

Le Chalet - Pont St - 40 Maltby Street

Half Term + Food & Drink Blogger = Boozy Lunches! I'll keep the chat to a minimum as the photos tell most of the story.  Check out for more food & drink snaps from London and beyond!

#1 - Thursday 30th October - First up, lunch with Dad The List on the roof of Selfridges.  Des McDonald and his Q Grill restaurant ran On The Roof with Q here during the summer.  For the winter months, Des is back again with Le Chalet, an alpine ski-lodge eatery, mostly under cover, with the appropriate décor, cosy blankets on every chair, and a dedicated hot chocolate cocktail "choctail" bar.

Interior Shot provided by Le Chalet

Though I was tempted by the likes of the Hazelnut (Hazelnut, almond liqueur, dark chocolate, hot chocolate - £9.50), I stuck to the cold cocktails with a wonderful Honeycomb Old Fashioned (Maker's Mark, honeycomb, whisky barrel aged bitters).  

Most of the drinks would do for dessert, such as the Choc-work Orange (Orange, Dark Chocolate), Roasted Chestnut Julep (Maker's Mark, Sweet Chestnut Liqueur, Mozart dark chocolate) and Gingerbread Slipper (Brugal, gingerbread, lemon, egg white).

Honeycomb Old Fashioned

Le Chalet "Choctails"
For the first time in many a month, we ordered "starters" rather than "small plates":

- Cornish crab, pickled celeriac, Colman’s mustard - £12.50
- Sweet walnut and Stilton tart - £8.75

Whilst they weren't much to look at, both were full of flavour and the salad garnishes were more than just an afterthought.  Other wintery options include pumpkin "hummus", oxtail and winter root broth, and air dried beef with baked raclette.

Sweet Walnut & Stilton Tart // Cornish Crab, Pickled Celeriac, Mustard

The mains:

Smoked Highland Venison, Black Pepper "Neeps" - £24
Spit Roasted Pork, Black Pudding Fritter, Chorizo Cabbage, Apple Sauce - £29

Check out those Selfridges rooftop prices...  Ignoring that, there was a decent amount of beautifully cooked meat with the smokey venison particularly standing out. The black pudding fritter was also a great success, and the crackling was a treat.  

Smoked Highland Venison, Black Pepper "Neeps"
Spit Roasted Pork, Black Pudding Fritter, Chorizo Cabbage, Apple Sauce
Best of all though was the stunning Eggnog Snow Egg (£8) which was almost too good-looking to destroy.  Almost.  A light tap on the top with a fork brought it all crashing in, revealing a squishy marshmallow like vanilla egg custard delight that I clearly can't really describe.  Go and get one.

The Apple Streusel with "Lashings" of Custard (£7.50) was more of an apple pie and crumble hybrid, which is no bad thing, but it was always going to come second to the Eggnog Snow Egg.

Eggnog Snow Egg

Apple Streusel with "lashings of custard"
Le Chalet is a charming refuge from Selfridges and Oxford Street if you can afford the premium prices.  Perhaps just come up for a choctail and a dessert if nothing else!  Des McDonald is keeping himself busy this Christmas period, running Q on Ice at the Canary Wharf Ice Rink too.

Matt The Tip - Check out Forza Win(ter) and The Lodge in Balham for more festive food fun

ForzaWin(ter) 2014 from Forza Win on Vimeo.

Entrance to Le Chalet at Selfridges

#2 - Friday 31st October - The following day, I popped on a shirt (rare), and wandered around the backstreets of Sloane Square in the unseasonable sunshine in search of the Belgraves Hotel.  The lovely folk at Zomato sent me a £100 voucher (from a Twitter competition) to splash out at Pont Street, so I took along one of my siblings for a belated birthday meal.

Sophie Michell became the UK's youngest female Executive Chef when she joined the Belgraves Hotel, and she relaunched the restaurant in September 2013. Since then, Sophie has also opened The Gorgeous Kitchen in Heathrow Terminal 2.  And if she needs a reference, she can call upon the likes of Claudia Schiffer and Leonardo DiCaprio, for whom she has worked privately.

We kicked off with some superb complimentary Blue Cheese Brioche whilst we perused the menu. Delicious bread is always a good sign.

Blue Cheese Brioche
We took our time before settling on our starters:

- Scallop Carpaccio, Mandarin, Fennel, Olive Oil, Yuzu, Basil 
- Fried Squid, Smoked Paprika, Chilli, Saffron Aioli

The fried squid was highly enjoyable, but it was a distant second to the outstanding scallop carpaccio that would surely convert any fennel haters.  The waiter only turned his back for a second and it was all gone.

Scallop Carpaccio, Mandarin, Fennel, Olive Oil, Yuzu, Basil 

Fried Squid, Smoked Paprika, Chilli, Saffron Aioli
In anticipation of an evening of eating and drinking around London Fields, I thought I'd keep things light with some pasta (stuffed with ricotta cheese).

Gnudi is one of my all time favourite foodie words (along with Chiboust!) and this was a fine example of the genre, though rather different to the superb Pea Gnudi plate at Rotorino.  Jo gave the thumbs up to her cutely presented plate of lemon sole & cockles.

- Gnudi, Ricotta, Tomato Sauce, Rosemary, Pecorino
- Lemon Sole, Dorset Cockles, Sea Astor, Bottarga Butter

Lemon Sole, Dorset Cockles, Sea Astor, Bottarga Butter
Last but not least, the puddings:

- Doughnut Balls, Salted Caramel, Vanilla Milkshake
- Cinnamon Rice Pudding, Creme Fraiche, Apple Compote

Cinnamon Rice Pudding, Creme Fraiche, Apple Compote

I had already set my heart on the doughnut balls stuffed with warm caramel sauce a week before our lunch, and they didn't disappoint. You may not want to share them, but don't expect to get anything else done that day.  A coffee was needed to give my body time to assess the damage, but we eventually managed to roll ourselves out of the front door and back out on to the sunny streets.  

It was a lovely meal in pleasant surroundings - thanks to Zomato for making me aware of it!


#3 - Saturday 1st November - After a couple of hours of Bermondsey exploration en famille, we sought refuge in 40 Maltby Street due to countless recommendations from locals and critics.

It is presented as a wine bar (and shop), but this place quickly fills up with people wanting to munch their way through 40 Maltby Street's chalkboard menu.  There are no bookings, so get there early. We were fine at midday, but it was packed an hour later.

Opening times: 

Wednesday 5.30pm – 10pm
Thursday 5.30pm – 10pm
Friday 12.30pm – 2pm & 5.30pm – 10pm
Saturday 11am – 10pm

The kitchen closes at 9.30pm for dinner and at 3.30pm for Saturday lunch

J.C.Garnier La Roche Bezigon 2012 - £5.80 / 125ml
The menu is one long list of items that would vaguely fit into starter and main categories.  I would suggest sharing a few of the smaller items before keeping a large plate all to yourself.  We started with:

- Crumbed Lamb Breast and Green Tomato Ketchup - £5.50
- Carrot, Clementine, Sunflower Seeds & Mint - £5
- Warm Salt Hake, Leeks, Walnuts - £7

Crumbed Lamb Breast, Green Tomato Ketchup

Carrot, Clementine, Sunflower Seeds, Mint

Warm Salt Hake, Leeks, Walnuts
And our "mains":

- Onion & Oatmeal Tart with Watercress - £7
- Venison Ragout and a Brussel Top - £11
- Fish Stew with Saffron and Fennel - £14

Venison Ragout, Brussel Top

Fish Stew, Saffron, Fennel
What can I say? Everything deserved its place on the table. The Warm Salt Hake was a revelation, and the Venison Ragout was the best thing that I ate all week (and I consumed rather a lot).  

Fantastic, affordable food in a relaxed setting, on a par with Peckham Bazaar, Rotorino, Honey & Co and The Dairy.

In the words of Jay Rayner:

"Regulars at 40 Maltby Street want to keep it a secret – but the food at this quirky kitchen is just too good for that" The Guardian

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