Posted on Thursday, 31st July 2014
The Five Fields restaurant is so named as it is located in an area which was once known in the 18th century as The Five Fields. Chef-owner Taylor Bonnyman opened The Five Fields in May of 2013. It’s a charming restaurant set in a townhouse, and it has been sumptuously decorated in soft, soothing colours to give diners both a sense of comfort and elegance. The menu is modern British and focuses on seasonal ingredients, drawing on herbs and vegetables grown at the restaurant’s own East Sussex gardens. Taylor previously cooked at the two Michelin-starred Corton in New York and now works alongside head chef Marguerite Keogh who was previously at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley.
There is a tasting menu which is priced at £75. Otherwise, three courses is a really reasonably priced £50 a head. There’s also flexibility to be had as the two of us decided to go with three starters and only one dessert rather than two of each. Our meal began with some petit looking canapés which consisted of a foie gras mousse on crispy gingerbread topped with a prune puree and a dash of orange powder. This was a tasty bite of creamy goodness meshed with gingery, orangey overtones. This was followed by a fresh crab tartlet topped with pickled golden beetroot and aromatic shiso. A refreshing amuse bouche of gazpacho with pickled watermelon and basil oil came next. We also nibbled on some warm and appetising breads including a selection of campaillou, black olive, soda bread and buttermilk.
Our first starter was a gloriously presented and generous portion of beautifully pan-fried Orkney scallops served with cauliflower three ways – roasted, poached in butter and as a couscous. Satisfying in every way, some pickled cucumbers added acidity with a smooth pistachio cream and ground pistachios providing a nutty warmth and crunchiness.
Veal sweatbreads were really good and came with some scrumptious charred sweetcorn, a hearty tomato puree and a homemade ranch-style dressing which worked really well with the sweatbreads. There was also some caramelised onions which although nice, was a touch overpowering against the sweatbreads, and an accompanying piece of pig’s trotter croquette was also a little disappointing as the crumbed coating wasn’t crispy. But otherwise this was an accomplished dish, and the use of almond crumbs brought everything together by giving the finished product depth, texture as well as flavour.
Foie gras with shimeji mushrooms and beetroot was as pretty as a picture, drawing gasps of awe from both of us when it arrived at our table. The centrepiece was a foie gras parfait coated in a shiny beetroot gel that proved to be delightfully smooth. It was served with a glorious concoction of garden freshness including baby beetroot, pickled shimeji, pickled baby carrots and baby beets. All the vegetables were wonderful, holding well onto their form and body. But the acidity coming through from the pickling was a touch sharp against the delicacy of the foie gras.
A main of pigeon, served two ways with the breast poached and roasted and a confit of leg, was meltingly tender and tasty. But it was the accompanying elements which made this plate special. Consisting of some crunchy, fresh asparagus, soft duck tongues and sweet cubes of beetroot croutons, there were also some thin slivers of crunchy peanut crisps and a delectable peanut puree that worked perfectly with the pigeon. The dish was slightly underseaoned, but otherwise every mouthful was a thing of joy in what was a perfectly balanced plate of food.
We found the short ribs to be slightly fatty but very tender and well cooked nevertheless. To cut through the richness of the meat there was some pickled morels alongside some shitake crisps, earthy roasted salsify, and a warming barley and parmesan risotto with a parmesan crumble.
The pre-dessert was a mango buttermilk sorbet served with an apple and celery granite and salted peanuts. The tanginess of the granite contrasted well with the creamy sorbet and was a refreshing way to conclude the savoury part of the evening.
A dessert of lemon olive cake with lemon chiboust, lemon meringue and coffee fluid gel was a thing of beauty. The cake was moist and moreish, and there was well-judged amount of acidity and sweetness between the various elements. The coffee gel gave the dessert a polished finish with its rich depth of flavour. The only disappointment was that the cake was not bigger.
£50 for three wonderfully cooked courses using high quality ingredients made for fabulous value. But what really tipped the scales in favour of The Five Fields was the delicate sensibility that resonated throughout each plate of food. If awards were to be dished out for food that you could eat with your eyes, then The Five Fields would win hands down. Every plate was not only beautiful to look at, but had been presented with great care and attention. And with such love in the cooking, what was there not to adore? The service by the attentive and charming staff was excellent and it could have so easily been stuffy given its fabulous Chelsea location. With its warm and relaxed sophistication, yummy food and spectacularly presented plates, The Five Fields made for a really lovely place in which to dine.
Food rating: 4.5/5
Service rating: 4/5
Prices: £50 for three courses, £75 for the tasting menu. Excludes drinks and service.