Chamberlain’s in the City
One of the most curious hallmarks of the modern era is the rate at which we enjoy, consume and ultimately discard. Trends that would have once lasted months now die out in days, items that once would have been considered essential investments are now replaced in a yearly cycle of “improvement” and progress. Change for change’s sake in many cases, infiltrates our lives with insidious ease.
If you need evidence, think of a meal served in a kitsch Kilner jar and the appropriate wave of nausea will tell you all that you need to know about passing trends. Restaurants, dishes, chefs: all seem to pass by in a heady blur as we constantly chase the latest thing. In such a chaotic, dizzying and admittedly intoxicating world, there’s comfort in the classics. The raked top of a shepherd’s pie the image and spirit of an English field in autumn, served in the plush and predictable joy of somewhere like The Ivy. Or a rich, indulgent creamy Lobster Bisque at Chamberlain’s. Voluptuous in a way that only these traditional soups can be, its fusion of technique and sensational produce is a welcome sight to jaded eyes. Every last drop disappears in eager spoonfuls, its richness cut through with the simple elegance of sancerre.
It’s a hard act to follow but the next course is even more bombastic. Chamberlain’s Dover Sole, poached in champagne and served on the bone, is a swan song of classic French cookery. Delicate, and light as gossamer, its silky flesh is enveloped in a sauce so rich with butter that every mouthful likely takes months from your life. We’re instructed to eat it immediately, and do so with the utmost pleasure: far better to burn out, surely, than to fade away.
Not that lavish decadence is all that they can offer. On the other side of the table, things are a little more sprightly. A selection of native and Irish oysters with homemade vinegar is elegant, simple and thoroughly delicious, proof that not everything here needs to be embellished with countless technique.
Tea smoked bacon and Hand-Dived Orkney Scallop are a classic combination and here work exactly as you’d hope them too, fatty, smoky meat gilding the seafood with consummate ease. The bacon could do with being a little crispier, that real crunch and cracked of perfectly cooked fat not quite there.
Wild Scottish Roast Fillet of Halibut, with black cabbage and a burgundy jus, is an interesting one. The fish flakes beautifully and the jus is reduced to a dark, sticky splatter whose intensity is bold but not overpoweringly so. It’s a great pairing of subtle and potent flavours which compromises neither, which sadly cannot be said for a side of mushy peas whose flavour is lost under a lashing of sweet mint sauce. It’s a rare misstep.
Tarte Tatin and a poached pear with tuile are both returns to form, enjoyable classic fare that might not be pushing the boat out but certainly satisfy. There’s a certain fearlessness to it all, a trust in the chef’s ability and in the truly superb produce that’s been sourced from Chamberlain and Thelwell at Billingsgate.
At times it can border on the ridiculous but that old school, over-the-top richness is a curiously rare thing these days. Rarer still is the promise of quality that comes with it, the hunch that if your life came down to you being served a great meal you’d almost certainly pick somewhere like Chamberlain’s.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Daniel Masters/Chamberlains
To book a table at Chamberlain’s, 23-25 Leadenhall Market London EC3V 1LR, call 020 7648 8690 or visit their website here.