London House, West Byfleet, Surrey KT14 6NF - restaurant review
With a MasterChef: The Professionals semi-finalist at the helm, there’s already a sense of expectation about London House in Old Woking. Matthew Williams paid a visit to discover if Ben Piette’s first restaurant venture lives up to the billing
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine June 2011
Originally at 134 High Street, Old Woking, Surrey GU22 9JN: 01483 750610
Re-opening at 31 Station Approach, West Byfleet, Surrey KT14 6NF (previously Trevi) on Wednesday September 9, 2015
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Food: 9 Service: 8 Venue: 8
What we ate:
Three courses for �29.50
Starters Soft and warm poached duck egg on cherry tomato and lemon thyme pastry with crispy pancetta Cornish crab cannelloni with bisque mayonnaise and baby spinach
Main courses Fillet of beef with mousseline, horseradish beignet, French fine beans and onion jam Roaster rack of lamb and rolled shoulder with braised vegetables and rosemary scented oil
Desserts Assiette of chocolate Selection of fine cheeses
Drinks Morgon Les Sybarites Fut de Chene Chateau de Pizay 2008, �25 Two double espressos, �3 each
REVIEW: Fans of the pressure cooker that is MasterChef: The Professionals will already be aware of the talents of Ben Piette, who reached last year’s semi-finals. And, for those who haven’t heard of him yet, you will have soon.
The 32-year-old former McLaren Technology Centre hospitality chef – he has cooked for Ron Dennis, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and co in his time – opened London House in Old Woking at the start of April, and as soon as I heard about it, I had to give it a try.
The father of two is originally from the small town of Frejus in the south of France, so you could forgive London House for having a little faux bistro pretension but, bar the chilled French background music, there are few immediately obvious references to his homeland. As Ben is keen to point out, when I speak to him after we’ve eaten, this is about the food, not him.
Arriving unannounced, less than a fortnight after opening, we were slightly thrown by the entrance, which is actually via a side route that takes you round the back, rather than straight in off the street.
Once inside, the interior is bright and the mirrors, unlike many restaurants these days, are above the line of sight when seated – meaning that their interior design properties are evident, but you don’t have to stare at yourself spilling spaghetti bolognaise all over the place. Calming, I’m sure you’ll agree.
The menu is kept ‘simple’: two/three/four courses with a few options for each. We opted for three courses, skipping the fish, and opened up with the poached duck egg and Cornish crab cannelloni. My duck egg on crispy pancetta built flavour upon flavour leaving an aftertaste that continued to please after the plate was clean, and there were no complaints about the cannelloni either.
The best ever? However, they paled in comparison to the best bit of beef I’ve ever tasted in my life. In fact, seeing as my fianc�e normally waives the beef dishes and said her lamb main was ‘perfect’, her jealous glances after just a taste were testament to the dish’s quality.
Apparently reared on one of the chef’s friend’s farms in Devon, the meat almost melted into the mousseline and the horseradish beignet, the flavours complementing each other perfectly. Glorious.
Finally, in the assiette of chocolate and selection of fine cheeses, we had a fitting shared sweet/savoury d�nouement with double espressos. Just before leaving, we got the chance to chat with Ben and there was no hiding his ambitions for London House: things have started ‘simple’ he says; expect fireworks from here, says I…
3 other restaurants with TV connections
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The Mulberry Inn Petworth Road, Chiddingfold GU8 4SS: 01428 644460 Owned by Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, the food at The Mulberry has received rave reviews from even the harshest of critics, Marco Pierre White.
Jamie’s Italian 19-23 High Street, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1LL: 0208 912 0110 Located just opposite the Rose Theatre, Jamie Oliver’s Italian offering holds the promise of great dining experiences, even though you can’t book.