Last Thursday evening was my second trip to Antidote in Newburgh Street. On my first visit there were three of us, and we ordered every dish on the à la carte menu plus copious amounts of vino. This time there were nine of us and we ordered pretty much everything the kitchen could provide. We decided on the five course tasting menu plus a couple of extra dishes which we couldn’t resist from the à la carte. Before this feast began, we whetted our palates with an aperitif. I remembered the bottle well from my first visit. It was the Nouveau Nez, a natural and organic sparkling Chenin Blanc from La Grange Tiphaine in Montlouis-sur-Loire. It had a fine mousse, gentle citrus zing and it was perfect for a pre-dinner tipple.
Bread and butter were placed on the table. The butter was homemade cultured butter which had a lovely texture and gentle acidity. The bread was phenomenal. It was the sourdough from Hedone, a restaurant in Chiswick, who’s chef Mikael Jonsson created the recipe. He initially made every loaf himself but has had to expand this out due to demand. I never usually eat much bread at dinner, especially with so many courses arriving imminently, however I couldn’t help myself. It was just that good.
As our order was a logistical nightmare, our additional dishes were presented first. First was the Smoked Eel, Chorizo, Heirloom Radish & Blood Orange. This was a light and fresh dish, however I didn’t see the necessity of the Chorizo.
The next dish was the New Season Beetroots, Ticklemore and Rhubarb. This dish confused us somewhat as it was presented on a bed of black crumbs which were not on the description, and were proving to be an impossible taste test challenge even for a table of well-trained palates. We had to ask for help, and we were informed that they were brioche crumbs coloured with squid ink. This was another light dish, with many pleasing, contrasting textures.
Finally, we made it to the beginning of the tasting menu. Well, almost. A new bottle of wine was opened first…
It was the 2014 Mise du Printemps from Josmeyer, a biodynamic, Alsatian Pinot Blanc. Josmeyer have great pictorial wine labels with this wine in particular being part of their ‘art series’ whereby the picture on the label is an illustration of the wine in the eyes of an artist. There was peach, apricot and a floral, blossom like nose, an energising acidity and a honeyed finish. I really enjoyed this wine.
Dish one was Raw Scottish Langoustines with Wild Garlic. This was a great dish. I had never encountered raw langoustines prior to this, and they simply melted in your mouth. The garlic was present yet not overpowering. My favourite part was the conviviality, and how no one was afraid to crunch through shells and suck any remaining life out of them. The wine was a great match for this light fish dish, and all the elements complimented each other well.
Another bottle was started – The 2012 Tir à Blanc from le Casot de Mailloles, an estate in the town of Banyuls in Roussillon, France. Casot is the local name for the stone shelters in vineyards which allowed workers to shelter from inclement weather conditions. The wine is biodynamic, unfiltered and a blend of Grenache Blanc and Macabeu. It was wild. So many herbal, and floral notes and a strong yeast aroma, with a very fresh, and high acidity on the palate, perfect for food pairing.
Dish two of the tasting menu is making me salivate remembering it right now. It was Foie Gras with Walnut and Roast Calçot onion. The Foie Gras was cooked to perfection, the dish looked beautiful, I wanted to savour every single bite and I was completely captured by this dish I don’t even remember trying the wine with it. The dish was so perfectly rounded and balanced, it was a pleasure to the senses. This was by far my favourite dish and one I knew would be almost impossible to beat. I would go back to Antidote again just for this dish.
Dish three was Line Caught Cod, Winter Tomatoes and Shiso. This dish was pleasant, and quite light. Shiso is an Asian herb belonging to the mint family, and its flavour was so subtle in this dish I couldn’t feel its presence. The winter tomatoes added a nice umami flavour to the dish.
Next to drink was the 2012 Montesecondo TÏN. A 100% Sangiovese fermented and aged in clay amphorae. It is biodynamic, unfiltered and uses indigenous yeast fermentation. It had dusty tannins and a lot of cherry on the palate. It was a considerable amount bigger than the wines so far, making it a great match for the dishes ahead.
Dish four on the menu was Squab Pigeon, Black Garlic and Boudin Noir, however they had run out of Pigeon so replaced it with the Roe Deer, also available on the à la carte menu. As much as I would have liked to try the Pigeon, I am almost glad they ran out of it as the Roe Deer was sensational. Cooked rare, melt in the mouth, fantastic seasoning, this dish was one that I would also return to try again.
The cheeseboard was well thought out. It had a balanced variety of cheeses, and my particular highlight was the Tomme Crayeuse, from Mons Cheesemongers which has a flavour profile of cereal, sprouts and a cucumber freshness.
Dessert was Grapefruit, Cherry Cream and Almond, which was a very welcome light and zingy dish to end on after so many flavours throughout the meal. We paired this with the 2014 Causse Marines Grains de Folie, a sweet wine from Southern France consisting of Muscadelle, Ondenc, Loin de l’oeuil, Mauzac Blanc and Sémillon. This was a great wine with a nose of dried apricots and a floral palate.
Six hours later, we ended on the Laurent Cazottes Poire Williams. Check out their website http://www.distillerie-cazottes.com/Eaudevie.html for extremely in depth tasting notes and a little about the distillery itself.
You can find Antidote in Newburgh Street near Oxford Circus; http://www.antidotewinebar.com/contact-us