Whenever a restaurant bears the name of Nigel Platts-Martin, you know you will be assured of quality and consistency. With a string of well-known critically acclaimed restaurants, Nigel, a former lawyer turned restaurateur, seems to have that foodie magic that guarantees success. His restaurants include The Square, The Ledbury, Chez Bruce, La Trompette and The Glasshouse, the latter three which he owns with Bruce Poole, chef of Chez Bruce. What is also notable about these three sister restaurants is how reasonably priced they are. Even though all three establishments bear a Michelin star, prices have been kept at are around the £40-£45 mark for three courses.
A recent visit to The Glasshouse (£34.50 for two courses, £39.50 for three courses) saw me start with the grilled mackerel and miso, oyster dressing, shiso leaf and crispy squid. An inspired sounding dish, it did little to live up to expectations. The mackerel was well cooked, but the skin tasted slightly burnt. The miso sauce, a combination of miso, uzu, sake and mirin, had a nice flavour, but was extremely rich, as was the oyster dressing made with oyster sauce, iceberg lettuce, oysters and mayonnaise. The combination of these two heavy tastes overwhelmed the fish, drowning out its natural sweetness. I love shiso, but rather than being used as a garnish, it was buried under the oyster dressing which left this beautiful herb soggy and bereft of the exotic aroma that it usually exudes. Japanese food is about the clarity of flavour and the cleanliness of the palate. Here I found a heavy and muddled dish that didn’t quite live up to its Japanese inspirations. There was good technique here if you analysed each of the components individually, but the dish as a whole was flawed.
But as a saving grace, the wonderful accompanying crispy squid – a mixture of squid, prawns and mushrooms wrapped in nori and a wonderfully crispy, pastry – was divine. I would have happily had ten of these and forgotten the rest.