Walk on the Wild Side at Embassy Gardens by Ballymore

Posted on Wednesday, 23rd July 2014

The Embassy Gardens by Ballymore

The Embassy Gardens by Ballymore

The Embassy Gardens by Ballymore is hosting a five-day pop-up event at its stunning venue in Nine Elms on the South Bank called ‘Walk On The Wild Side’. The event is being run by The Radical Dining Society, an outfit that organises culinary adventures for foodie thrill seekers. Walk On The Wild Side runs from July 22 to 26 and features a seven course-tasting menu of foraged food and Harvey Nichols Own Label Champagne and wines. The menu is based around a theme of wild flowers and gardens and draws its inspiration from the linear park that will wrap around The Embassy Gardens by Ballymore, stretching from Vauxhall to Battersea Park.

In charge of proceedings is Chef Toby Cartwright who began his career at Coworth Park under 2 Michelin star chef John Campbell. As diners feast away, DJ Tony from Raffles nightclub will entertain guests by spinning some cool Ibiza tracks. And all this is set against the backdrop of The Embassy Gardens, a rooftop location that offers lovely views of the Thames and the emerging Nine Elms district.

I attended the launch evening last night and was blown away by the exception menu which began with venison crudo with wood sorrel, horseradish, douglas fir and rye. This dish was sensational, with the rich meatiness of the venison being accentuated by the flavour of the sweet horseradish cream and supreme freshness of the douglas fir.

Embassy Gardens by Ballymore - Venison crudo

Venison crudo

The next course was a chilled pea and mallow veloute with brown crab and chilli. I didn’t warm to this dish initially, but it grew on me slowly with its unusual combination of brown crab cream, smooth pea flavour and lively kick from the chilli. It was a conceptually interesting dish but perhaps not my favourite from the evening.

Embassy Gardens by Ballymore - Pea veloute

Pea veloute

Cured salmon with wild fennel, sea buckthorn and wild rice crispies was absolutely divine as the salmon simply melted in the mouth. The fennel was incredibly fragrant and helped to elevate this special dish. The use of sea buckthorn was well judged and not too sharp, and the crispies were a nice touch as they provided a popping texture to the dish.

Embassy Gardens by Ballymore - Cured salmon

Cured salmon

Nettle risotto was also amazing and rich with flavour. It was topped with some buttery crispy crumbs that not only added intensity to the risotto but texture as well.

Embassy Gardens by Ballymore - Nettle risotto

Nettle risotto

The main course was wood pigeon with dandelion, field pea and bilberries. Perhaps not the most tender of cuts, the pigeon was nevertheless wonderfully gamey and intensely flavoursome. The jus was excellent and the tasty field peas and fragrant dandelion really worked to bring the dish together.

Embassy Gardens by Ballymore - Wood pigeon

Wood pigeon

The pre-dessert was an interesting whipped hazelnut milk and fermented wild elderflower. There was a sharp acidity to the elderflower jelly that proved refreshing countered by the nutty essence in the milk. It was an interesting dish that I appreciated for its technical aspects and found somewhat intriguing on the palate.

The final dessert of burnt cream with chocolate and watermint was heavenly. The burnt cream gave off a smoky flavour which was mesmerising. Watermint provided freshness and the crunchy chocolate topping added a crunchy texture. All the flavours worked magically together for what was another excellent dish.

This was a surprising experience for a pop-up restaurant for it was about as good as any one star Michelin restaurant I have eaten at. Chef Toby Cartwright has worked with Ben Spalding and there are traces of his influence in Cartwright’s brand of conceptual fine-dining, from the use of foraged products to the interesting food pairings. But Cartwright is a talented chef in his own right and a true star in the making. No doubt he will earn some Michelin stars one day. But for now you can taste his amazing food at this funky pop-up venue set to some chilled out tunes with The Thames as a backdrop.

Summary information:

Food rating: 4.5/5
Service rating: 3.5/5

Price: £75 a head including a bottle of wine between two

Website: http://www.radical-dining-society.com/events

Note: I dined as a guest of Embassy Gardens by Ballymore.

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