A Taste of McClements is a little bit off the beaten track, but I'm never one to resist a tasting menu. There are no difficult decisions to be made, no finding that you've chosen the wrong thing and really need to eat you partner's meal instead of (or as well as) your own. Everything's simple with a tasting menu, just pay up and tuck in. And at John McClements' eponymously named restaurant there is no A La Carte menu anyway, just 18 tiny courses of absolutely everything.
We set off on our journey across South London.
2 hours and 3 trains later, we arrived to find a tiny 20 seat restaurant tucked away near Kew Gardens station. Tiny, intimate and candlelit, with two friendly waiters, we were immediately at ease and looking forward to getting started.
We began with an amuse bouche of foie gras "snow" with crisped fingers of brioche. The "snow" was frozen and shaved foie which melted on the tongue. It might have looked like the sort of snow you get by the side of the road, but it certainly tasted good!
Course 1 was a mouthful of smooth chicken mousse served with a Roquefort sauce. We thought it was all over, but once finished our waiter knocked open our dishes to reveal a tasty tarragon-infused chicken soup hiding underneath.
The second course consisted of three tasting plates - a crab soup served with crab croquette, a lobster thermidor and a langoustine ravioli. The ravioli was the real stand-out dish, with deeply savoury (as Greg the Egg would say) flavours leaving us wanting more.
Course three, and we were served with the next two dishes, a smooth Jerusalem artichoke veloute and a quail egg ravioli. Both hit the spot, with just the right hint of truffle in the veloute and the quail egg cooked to gooey perfection.
The scallop royal, a strange scallopy mousse (right in the photo), was more of a disappointment. It just seemed wrong to mash up a scallop so unceremoniously. However, the sauteed scallop (on the left), served with squid ink, parsnip puree and a parmesan crisp, made up for it. The scallop was perfectly cooked, thick and meaty, and set off perfectly by the creamy parsnip, the deep sea tang of the squid ink and the salty parmesan crisp.
The duck landaise went down very nicely, although I am never one to complain about two lots of foie in a meal.
Tuna cubes were again a little disappointing, I thought that they didn't have much flavour, but they certainly looked pretty.
The Dover sole and the Dublin bay prawn with champagne sauce were both spot on.
The Pyrenees lamb was also delicious, perfectly pink and tasty and served up with some yummy dauphinoise potatoes.
Finally, we were up to the ninth course and still not flagging. It was just as well too, as the desserts were not to be missed. We started with Calvados souffle, snaffling it up before it sagged, then a chocolate praline "Louis xv" with scented violet ice cream, finishing off with a refreshing confit rhubarb.
It had been a marathon, but we were at the end and surprisingly not stuffed to the gills due to the well-judged portions. Even better, the full menu only set us back £70 a head including 7 glasses of wine. If you go alco-free it's only £35 for the food.
Overall, a hassle to get to, and some misses alongside the hits, but well worth the journey. We will be going back to A Taste of McClements. Or perhaps moving to Kew...
A Taste of McClements 8 Station Approach Kew TW9 3QB Tel: 020 8940 6617