SPOTLIGHT: November, 2007
with Burlington Bertie & Shophound Alexia.
Over the past decade the provincial dining scene has been significantly enhanced by the number of top chefs moving out of London to open quality restaurants and gastro-pubs in rural settings and market towns where they can work their culinary expertise on locally sourced meat, game, fish, local cheeses, fruit and vegetables in more relaxed and less expensive surroundings.
Hibiscus, A Shropshire Lad in London
Ludlow, the beautiful Shropshire town on the Welsh borders beloved of the between-wars poet A. E. Housman (1859 - 1936), is one beneficiary. It boasts more restaurants with entries in the current Michelin gastronomic guide than anywhere outside London; quite an achievement for a small town with a population of just 10,000. Housman, who was something of a gourmet himself, would have approved!
29 Maddox Street, Mayfair, W1S. 020 7629 2999
Opening times: Mon-Fri. 12-2.30pm. 6.30-10pm.
Average Price: 3 course set lunch: £25.
3 course la carte dinner c. £50.
Wine by the glass from £4.50. By the bottle from £16.50.
London Transport: Nearest Tube. Bond Street, Oxford Circus
Sadly for Housman's Shropshire lads, who have recently luxuriated in the delights of such gourmet dining, they have just lost one of their culinary gems. Chef Claude Bosi and his partner Claire have closed Hibiscus, their renowned Michelin starred establishment in Ludlow and transferred it lock, stock and barrel, together with their talented kitchen staff to Mayfair. They have opened a 45 seat dining room and an 18 seat private dining room at 29 Maddox Street, conveniently situated between Bond Street and Regent Street.
Ludlow's loss is London's gain in this reversal of the migratory trend. Bosi is maintaining his award-winning classical culinary style fused with modern twists. He continues to source his materials locally, maintaining a rural foothold with his gastro pub The Bell Inn at Yarpole, which is well worth the detour from nearby Ludlow if you are wandering off the beaten track in Shropshire and Herefordshire with a copy of Housman's poems in your backpack. And, Oh Joy of Joys! Claude has not been seduced into overpricing his menu.
With nearby establishments quoting double or treble Hibiscus prices, Chef Bosi and his wife Claire are set to become very popular indeed with daytime shoppers visiting Sothebys, the Fine Art Society and the Fashion emporia of Bond Street, the Regent Street and Piccadilly stores, and the bespoke tailors of Savile Row. And they are assured of success with evening diners who balk at the exhorbitant menu prices offered elsewhere in Mayfair. Having reluctantly paid £70 each for a three course lunch menu plus £10 each for a glass of wine at a nearby establishment, (our bill totaled nearly £200,) we were very happy with our Hibiscus bill for two totaling £50 plus £9.00 for two glasses of wine.
Hibiscus offers a full three course a la carte evening menu for £49.50 and a shorter set price three course lunch menu for £25, with 16 wines offered by the glass and an extensive European and New World wine list of reasonably priced full and half bottles.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating! Here is a sample of what Ludlow Lads have lost and Mayfair Madams have gained!
Savoury ice cream of foie gras with a warm emulsion of brioche and balsamic caramel; Ravioli of langoustines, onion and cinnamon, Granny Smith salad; Hereford suckling pig in two services; Sea bass stuffed with wild mushrooms, creamed chestnut, and cardamom oil; Hibiscus tart au chocolat with Indonesian basil ice cream; Cinnamon millefeuille with dried fig ice cream and crushed figs.
We shall return!
Sotheby's London's historic fine art auction house, Bond Street.
Fine Art Society British 19th & 20th century and contemporary fine art and artifacts specialists, Bond Street.
The Bell Inn Yarpole Dining description and review.
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