Thursday, 7 January 2016

Dinner at Piquet, Newman Street, London

Piquet is a recently opened restaurant (October) run by Chef Allan Pickett in his first venture (he was previously at Chez Nico, Aurora, Orrery and Plateau in Canary Wharf).  General Manager Alain Morice used to be sommelier at one of the Legatus' favourite City restaurants The Don, opposite Rothschilds in St Swithin's Lane.  When we arrived there I realised that it was literally next door to a previous office of mine although the whole area is currently blighted by Crossrail construction work.  I seem to remember that when I worked there what is now the restaurant was then the entrance to an underground car park.

Upstairs there was a bar but there wasn't a single person in it when w went in or when we came out three hours later.  This does not make the restaurant downstairs look very inviting.  Behind the bar is a rather peculiar painting of a Victorian man and a reclining lady in nineteenth century underwear and black stockings.  To say she is posed in a provocative way is an understatement (perhaps fortunately, you can only see her top half in the picture above).

Downstairs the restaurant was rather odd.  Overlit for my taste and the tables were made of some dreadful plastic (I'm sorry but I do like tablecloths in a proper restaurant).  The kitchen was one of those which you can look into which again, I don't like in case I take against the look of any of the chefs and think "I don't want them touching my food!"

So, not a very promising start (it wasn't my choice) but then we got to the food which was really the best I have had for a very long time.  They have a set menu for lunch and dinner if you order before 18.45 which is a very reasonable £19.50 for three courses.  The mineral water (still or sparkling) that is offered is a flat rate charge of £2.50 a head but it does keep coming.  I went for the a la carte menu and for my first course had pressed suckling pig, prunes, black pudding (fabulous) and cauliflower purée (also fabulous).  This is not big food (it would suit the willowy ladies who work at Elizabeth Arden which occupies, now as then, the ground floor of my old office building), although for a starter, it was more than adequate.  However, my companion's crab raviolo (note the singular) was very small indeed and she said it wasn't as good as the ravioli you get at Latium around the corner.

For a main course I had loin of venison, braised cabbage, quince purée & chestnuts.  It was accompanied by a small faggot (it's an English food, American people!) which was utterly splendid. Again my companion was lessy happy with her choice of seared sea trout but that serves her right for choosing girly, fishy food.  We had a Villa Saint - Jean Pays d'Oc, essentially their house wine, which was very nice indeed and a descoberta branco, Casa da Passarella, Dao, from Portugal which she enjoyed a lot (I only got  a half glass!)

Although after two bottles of wine and small food we were enjoying pretty much everything a lot.  Service was attentive but not overpowering although it was only just over half full so what it gets like if it is busy I'm not sure.

All in all I would certainly go again although probably not at lunch time when I gather it can be very quiet.   With a few tweaks (and I know they have done some already, like turning off the music and I gather the painting's days may be numbered) this could be a very good restaurant indeed.  7/10 (9/10 for the food).


  1. The decor does look rather strange. I'll have to go and look up precisely what's in a faggot now. I've known about them ever since the "Brain's faggots" adverts on tv in the early 1980s, but I've never wanted to eat one.

  2. From memory, faggots were just a kind of low market hamburger made from whatever meat was left over in a butchers after trimming/cutting and whatever?? Like a hamburger made with meat rather than mince, though I guess they may have minced it ... either way always a favourite of Steve the Wargamer, but I haven't had one in ages... that black pudding looked good!!