Four Degree in Vauxhall: Fine Japanese cuisine with a French twist
With the heatwave still bearing down upon Britain, there are few more enjoyable pleasures in London than sipping on freshly made cocktails while watching the red-tinted descent of the sun with the gentle breeze of the Thames caressing your face.
Four Degree opens its terrace to the good weather this summer to spoil its visitors with a special fusion of Japanese and European cuisine in Vauxhall. When the sun goes down, however, the elegant interior is ready to receive customers, its two floors tastefully decorated with floral installations by Larry Walshe and light creations by Tom Dixon. The dim tone contributes to a more romantic and quiet atmosphere in contrast with the open space outside.
When choosing your dish, do not be misled by the main ingredient listed on the menu, rather try and guess the predominant flavour from the mixture of elements. Though we’d have normally excluded it from our cocktail selection because of its apparent sweetness, Co’kura revealed instead an interesting, bitter aftertaste. The Aluna coconut rum and coconut purée found their balance with the Roku Japanese gin and the homemade kumquat liqueur. This latest concoction was also part of the recipe for our second choice, Under the Sun. The combination of Bumbu rum, eucalyptus bitters and Yuzu juice made this drink a cooler option and – unsurprisingly – one of the favourites from the bar.
Head chef Ricardo Garcia, previously of Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House and Michelin-starred The Bingham, has curated a food selection that adds a soft French twist to the Japanese courses.
Sticking to the traditional, the Vegetable Tempura was not greasy but retained the tasty flavour of the mushroom, sweet potato, and peppers. The following Warm Mushroom Salad with Truffle was perfect: velvety and juicy, the main components were finely topped by a sprinkle of truffle – a recurrent ingredient throughout the menu.
The Wagyu sirloin’s delicious tenderness was appetisingly preserved in the grill. Cut into small slices, the steak was accompanied by ponzu sauce, garlic chips and yuzu daikon.
Moving to the sushi bar, the offering here is large and varied, featuring everything from sashimi and nigiri to rolls and all their varieties – with a creative take. The Four Degree Roll totally deserved the caption of signature dish. The eight generous pieces of tuna finished with aromatic truffle mayo and topped by tiny gold leaves were a heavenly delight to make any sushi critic a rethink.
Another pick not to miss is the Gunkan nigiri foie-gras with wasabi: with the seaweed loosely keeping together the rice base and the French delicacy, the bites melted in the mouth quite quickly.
The splendid presentation of the Sashimi Moriawase, unfortunately, didn’t live up to the expectations, although still a high-quality serving. We went for the medium portion, Hikari, which comprises of tuna, yellowtail, salmon, white fish and a pulpy botan ebi. With such succulent products on the plate, the fish was lacking a certain special treatment so much anticipated in our other selections for the night.
If the cocktails didn’t already persuade us of the restaurant’s knack for experimentation, the desserts finished the job. In the Banana Miso, the toffee sauce and the caramel crumble didn’t overwhelm with their sugary components. Enriched by pieces of the fruit, the dish was also graciously presented with an intricate decoration.
As the spoon made its way through the Chocolate Bar, it revealed the different consistencies of the three layers: from a soft mousse to a hard-baked macadamia shortbread. Accompanied by white chocolate ice-cream, this final course was an intense revelation.
The neat aesthetic of Four Degree, with its superb Riverside terrace, stylishly frames the fineness of the high-quality Japanese cuisine. Far from the frenzied city centre, the restaurant provides the ideal fresh stop for a luxurious food experience.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Maria Barrios
To book a table at Four Degree, 2C St George Wharf London SW8 2LE, call 020 3096 3198 or visit their website here.