Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The restaurant with the best view of Trafalgar Square on the shortest day of the year

On midwinter's day, after an eventful and cultural morning in London, my dad and I met up with my brother Ben at the National Portrait Gallery Restaurant for lunch. The NPG restaurant is a favourite of ours, as it is ultra-convenient (located on the top floor of the NPG, right at Trafalgar Square), has stylish and delicious food, and is blessed with one of the best views in London, as you can see. Also, just off to the right, the Canadian flag flies proudly atop Canada House, the Canadian Embassy, making Ben and I feel right at home.

Ben had just flown in from Montreal, and had manfully made his way to central London from Heathrow that morning. He was determined not to let jetlag stand in the way of good cuisine. I can understand that impulse! We had a lot to catch up on:

We ordered from the a la carte menu, as the prix fixe was entirely Christmas-themed, and we didn't feel like pre-turkey turkey. Ben had a salad with caramelised apple, pear and shropshire blue cheese. Oh, and candied pecans and port syrup. Port syrup! Mm.

Dad and I both had the foie gras parfait on brioche (or rather, beside the brioche, as you see here. It could have used more brioche to the ratio of foie gras, I think). Us both having the same thing was unusual – my dad pursues a policy of determinedly not getting the same thing as us so we can all share and try something different. Clearly the foie gras was too tempting! The 'winter chutney' that accompanied it was also delicious.

My dad then moved on to a venison and chestnut-mushroom pie with potatoes, which was an 'open' pie (you can probably figure out why it was called that). Is that anything like a 'deconstructed' pie? It was fantastic – particularly that quilted pastry.

Ben had the slow-cooked prime beef (clearly slow-cooking is the business, as they say in England). The horseradish mashed potatoes look a little intestinal, no? But the ale and prune gravy was delicious. You can see the prunes in the dish too. The crispy strips on top were honey-roasted parsnips, which I didn't get around to trying, though I quite like parsnips.

And my main was roast guinea fowl, with celeriac gratin (absolutely delicious), braised red cabbage (mm!), caramelised onion (can't go wrong) and sloe gin and redcurrant jus. You can see some redcurrants perched jauntily on top of my dish. They were very tasty. Learn more about redcurrants here, if you wish.

For dessert, Ben had a selection of ice creams and sorbetto with pistachio biscotti. We figured out that one was chocolate and one raspberry, but the third was a mystery. We must train our ice cream palette!

My dad had this caramel tarte tatin with pear william ice cream (pear william is a French liqueur made from Bartlett pears).

And I had this amazing concoction: lavender-skewered fruit, with a chocolate fondue and a little dollop of ice cream (you can just see it at the end). It was a three-ice cream dessert course, between all of us!

After all that, I gratefully sunk into a pot of Earl Grey, whilst the boys had coffee. Three hours of happy eating, drinking and conversing had passed, and what a perfect way to spend three of the precious daylight hours of the shortest day of the year!


moyrad said...

I like the sound of shropshire blue cheese and port syrup in a salad. My mouth watered at the slow cooked beef and venison. Mmmm.

Which wine did you have with your dinner?

When i saw your the pictures, many savoury items evoked dessert to me- the foie gras looks like a slice of ice cream cake and the potatoes looked like a plated soft serve ice cream. Maybe I am craving ice cream.

I ate at the NPG with Laura and Andrew once and is was great - my dessert was a tasty cheese plate.
A trip to Les Amis de Fromage anyone??

Anonymous said...

Hello Laura, I enjoyed reading your comments about the NPG restaurant and looking at the delicious photos. I have eaten there but could only afford a salad. I am envious of your being in London!! With over 700 museums it is truly a traveller's delight. For more info on London and the UK please visit my website www.destinations-uk.com
I am enjoying your We Drink website and all the details of the France trip.

Meg said...

Gorgeous Laura! Everything was plated so beautifully - the currents especially. And that view!

I'm so curious about foie gras, having never tasted it. It seems to look totally different each time I see it. I agree with Michelle that this one looked like ice cream cake! Sometime we'll have to go out somewhere "foie gras-ish" here...

I love following your London food adventures, thanks for keeping us up to date!