The site that houses Medlar used to be an Indian restaurant that prided itself with Gordon Ramsay coming down every now and then. However, things have radically changed, with David O’Connor and Joe Mercer Nairne setting up their first restaurant in this gastronomically deserted part of Chelsea. Medlar is certainly not a curry place anymore, and that is evident from the moment you walk in. The colours are vivid and warm and the decoration is simple, yet stylish and modern.
To make sure you really do feel well, David O’Connor who is one of the most respected maîtres in London runs his brigade with great charm and professionalism. Despite the restaurant still being fairly young, this is a brigade that knows how to take care of its guests. But, on top of just doing a good job, every single person in this restaurant seems motivated and friendly. If you know that David headed the Square’s and Ledbury’s service brigades before opening his own restaurant, you might understand it all.
From this kitchen you shouldn’t expect any pretentious or gimmicky creations. No, after spending some time at Rockpool, the Savoy Grill under Marcus Wareing and more recently Chez Bruce, Joe Mercer Nairne serves truly delicious and straightforward dishes. They are easy to understand and love, bold in flavours and precise in execution. For any gourmand this is just the right place to be.
A good way to kick things off properly is the raviolo of crab with samphire and brown shrimps. Now, this might not be the most glamorously looking plate of food that has been put in front of you in a restaurant of such a standard, but it might well be among the tastier ones. The raviolo is generously filled with crab-meat that is full of flavour and boldly seasoned. To go with it, the bisque is both complex and concentrated making the dish a delicious starter.
Another signature dish is the wood pigeon with foie gras and buttered kale. Roasted medium-rare, the bird pairs excellently with the richness of the foie gras, and the earthy notes of the kale. As the name suggests, this one is not for those on a diet, but for all others out there, it’s a treat! In season, one ought not to miss the grouse, which is served classically with game chips, bread sauce and an offal toast. For people, like us, who like bold food, this is one of the great British dishes.
The desserts are similarly straightforward. Be it a walnut tart with coconut shavings, or a lemon sorbet; all of them share the same level of hedonistic pleasure one imagines to get from them and the technical skills that make this kitchen stand out.
Medlar has become one of those restaurants, we (amongst other people) love to go back to time and time again. It’s a place that keeps on pushing and constantly tries to make things better. That along with the pure pleasure of eating here make it a special place.