Three O Two in Waterloo
Who would say that inside a Waterloo four-star hotel there was a talented Spanish chef experimenting with advanced food techniques?
Even though the aesthetic of molecular gastronomy is not trendy anymore – an increasing number of chefs attempt to present dishes in a similar fashion to Noma’s, especially since its celebration as world’s best restaurant in 2010 – it’s more than appreciable what chef David Ovejo of Three O Two restaurant is trying to do.
Set in a modern hotel, the dining room of Three O Two is bright and stylish. So are the two special sets of tapas the dinner begins with: Crab and Duck Fritters, “Cabrales” Croquettes, Chorizo Croquettes and Cold Celery and Pineapple Soup come all in one plate and are exquisite. The crab croquette is a tempura prepared with a Guinness batter, the chorizo one is authentically smoky and the Cabrales cheese-filled one rich. Refreshing, the pineapple soup was unexpectedly not so sweet – thanks to the celery’s balancing effect.
The Venison Carpaccio is a much more delicate course, it comes with two oregano bruschettas. The meat has a good texture and it’s treated to taste sophisticated: savoury but still light. We have them with a glass of Basque white wine, San Martin Txacolí 2012 by Agerre – dry, complex and slightly sparkling – and Valencian red El Bonhomme 2012 which is a blend of Monstrell and Cabernet Sauvingon – soft and oaky.
Bigger tapas start to reach the table: with just enough space to accommodate them, it perfectly reflects the status of my stomach.
I’m not sure whether it’s because Stuffed Piquillo Peppers are not my thing but there isn’t anything good in the dish. Actually, contrary to the other courses, you can feel the heaviness of the fried oil on them. The Rum Celery Octopus is a too generous portion (weren’t we talking about tapas?) – the combination of celery and octopus is fitting but if you have too much of something then you won’t even be able to appreciate it (especially if you add potatoes and spicy tomato sauce to it).
The queen of these courses is the Partridge Salad: slow-cooked at a low temperature for a very long time, the partridge’s consistency recalls that of the tuna. It’s served at room temperature and that’s how it should be. The delicacy of this food implies a real knowledge of cooking – too bad for the horrible salad bush on its top.
The highlights of the meal are yet to come. First we have the Grilled Turbot with Shitake Mushrooms, Smoked Aubergine and Seaweed Meunière which is simply graceful. Thick, not dry, with a crispy skin: this is how fish should be cooked. The seaweed à la meunière (floured before cooking – it refers to the miller’s wife tradition) is the icing on the cake. The approach to the Crispy Slow Cooked Iberian Suckling Pig with Poached Potatoes in Rosemary and Garlic is completely different; the pork is juicy and lies on wonderful poached potatoes. These two dishes are the starting point for the chef to reach a higher level of cooking and presentation.
The wines suggested by the well informed and brilliant, young waiter are also very good: the glass of Flor de Gewürtztaminer 2012 by Laus and the El Picaro 2012 by Matsu (Toro style, tempranillo grape).
Desserts are both good. Gin Mare in Textures plays with three different textures of lemon (ice cream, mousse and foam), jellified gin and solid gel olive oil pearls. It’s very much an attempt to show off the applications of Ferran Adrià’s Texturas kit, but it works well. The White Chocolate Brownie with Praline is much more traditional and doesn’t feature any particular skills – the bordeaux flower however makes up a bit for the horror of the salads in the first dishes.
In conclusion Three O Two is a place to try; chef Ovejo needs to move on from the démodè aesthetic of molecular gastronomy and – more importantly – abandon the bistro-style use of plain salad to decorate his courses. However the technique and appreciation for flavours are very promising: a potential fine dining chef.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Laura Denti
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To book a table at Three O Two, 302 Waterloo Road London SE1 8RQ, call 020 7928 4062 or enquire here.