There’s very few times I find a restaurant with a menu that not only seems to perfectly marry ingredients with oodles of creativity, but also one that surpasses many other dining experiences I’ve had. Charlotte’s Place managed to do exactly that.
When an email landed in my inbox inviting me to try the tasting menu in Ealing, out of laziness to travel that far west, I almost rejected the offer. I’m a central London girl and I’ve always been a little spoilt for choice nor would I expect my readers to travel. However, there was something about the menu that intrigued me and a few weeks later I carted a friend along and we ventured all the way out in the sticks (I jest) to Ealing Common.
Arriving in Ealing I was pleasantly surprised at the village-like feel and with the restaurant overlooking the common on an exceptionally unlikely hot day (29°, I recall) it was ideal to sit outside and watch the world go by.
To start, we were served a deconstructed potato amuse bouche with such a creamy centre it was astonishing as to how this was achieved.
Although I love tomatoes, a plate based around the fruit, is not one that I was excited to try. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There has never been a dish I’ve found so hard to describe, mainly because I can’t seem to find the words to give it justice. If you were blindfolded and disregarded the texture, you would think you were eating soup as with each mouthful, the flavours and textures blended as one rather than being separate entities. Such a clever dish that I still can’t seem to get my head around. The tomato sorbet was the true highlight, cold smooth and so sweet and melted with ease on the tongue, mixed with the milk curd and a little saltiness to finish.
How head chef Lee Cadden managed to get this dish to become one of the highlights of the meal I will never know but I’ve never tried anything quite like it.
If I was to be overtly critical of the tasting menu, the ink poached pollock was perhaps my least favourite. Not because it was bad, in fact the pollock was wonderfully cooked with an underlying spice, but in comparison to all the other dishes it didn’t compare.
Another dish that amazed me was the quail with fois gras. I’ve always been a little hesitant with fois gras, I wish I could shake the feeling of how it’s prepared before landing on my plate and since my first taste, I’ve never understood why it’s praised as such a highly regarded ingredient.
Beautifully fatty, succulent matched with the crisp pink quail and earthy lentils, I finally understood why.
On to our desserts and a sweet portion of fresh strawberries and lemon curd was a nice start. There is nothing more British than eating strawberries on a hot summer’s day.
As much as I loved the strawberry dessert, It was nothing compared to our next; white chocolate parfait with dark chocolate & orange sorbet. I like white chocolate, but it’s rarely something I order as the flavour can be overtly sweet. Believe me when I say that matched with the dark chocolate and orange sorbet, with an added crunch from the honeycomb, it was a pleasure to eat.
Charlotte’s Place is a wonderous place. There wasn’t a single element on the day of our tasting menu that I would have changed. When I read the price of the 5 course tasting menu is £29.95 on weekdays and £35 on weekends I gasped. A restaurant which serves better food than many Michelin restaurants I’ve visited charging so little, is something I would never have expected. What’s even more impressive is the tasting menu is consistently changing so there’s always a reason to return.
I write this post in hesitation as the last thing I want is to find difficulty reserving a table on my next visit, which when the word spreads is certainly going to make others fall in love with Lee’s creations, just as much as I did.
I was invited to review but all thoughts are honest and of my own.
– Charlotte’s Place, Ealing Common