dines at Angler, at South Place Hotel

At last the talented Tony Fleming has launched Angler, at the newly opened South Place Hotel.  As Executive Chef Tony is responsible for several spaces in the hotel, including three bars, all the private dining, and two restaurants.  Angler sits upstairs and has it's own outside terrace - so you'll know where to find me next summer...  It even has a summer kitchen, so that some foods can be prepared outside.  We sat towards the back of the restaurant, where one of the tables overlooks the kitchen. From there you can see all of the action, and the precision with which they plate at the pass.

The basic premiss of the restaurant, as it's name might denote, is the provision of spankingly fresh, seasonable and sustainable fish and shellfish.  There are meat dishes on the menu too, and as some seasonal variations come into play, such as game, they will feature alongside their piscine counterparts.

My cherrystone clam was offered as an alternative to the oyster that Hubby immediately downed!  At the time we visited, Angler had Colchester Natives, Mersea Rocks and Irish Rocks - unfortunately I'm unable to eat oysters, but the clam packed an equally ozone punch, with a fresh light texture and flavour.

Cherrystone clam, raw, with shallot vinegar

This tiny cheesy biscuit, offered just as a nibble, is packed full of flavour, like an incredibly intense cheese straw. I tried to photograph the many crisp layers, but they're so fine I couldn't capture them adequately.  It's made with Montgomery cheddar and I want the recipe... You can see just how short the pastry is from my photo.

A little cheese biscuit - delicious!

The shellfish bisque is fine, velvety, light, but packed full of flavour.  Whilst the depth of shellfish used in the bisque is evident, it doesn't feel as though they've ground down everything on the counter - a problem I often encounter.  We shared a cup between us, but I would happily have eaten a bowl of this.

Shellfish bisque
Chorizo paired with shellfish was incredible, very intense and meaty, yet not overwhelming the razor clams and mussels. I've become a bit of a razor clam addict since having them cooked by Mr Kitchin earlier in the year, and these were a little over for my taste, but then the best I've had (at Cinq) were practically raw. I think it may rather depend on your own particular tastes.

Razor clam, chorizo, mussel and breadcrumbs

Hubby had the shellfish cocktail, which you can see is packed full, the radish and watercress add a peppery kick to the proceedings, and Hubby declared the dressing lovely.

Shellfish cocktail, with prawns, brown shrimp and langoustine
My scallop and lobster ravioli was delicious - the pasta was wafer-thin, but packed full of shellfish. The buerre blanc was pretty stellar - this is the point of Angler, classical techniques applied to the best possible ingredients. The sauce was light, but rich, buttery, lightly spiked with chives, and perfectly complimented the packed ravioli. Breaking into it reveals large chunks of shellfish, wrapped in a light and delicate mousse.

Scallop and lobster ravioli, with samphire and beurre blanc
Hubby wanted to try the Angler pie, with market fish, and chunks of lobster.  The whole thing was topped with piped mashed-potato, golden on top, and eliciting admiring glances from customers and staff alike... Hubby was convinced that he'd never manage to finish it, but it disappeared without trace. The pie contains meaty chunks of monkfish and lobster.

Angler and lobster pie, with button mushrooms and mashed potato

I opted for the bass with sauce vierge - one of my favourite flavours. I wouldn't have chosen the bass ordinarily, as often it's ruined, but I'm glad I did. It was steamed over a bamboo steamer, and perfectly, perfectly cooked. The fish was dressed with salad, with the sauce vierge in a little copper pot to the side.  The fish sat on crushed potatoes which had been laced with crab, an amazing combination which I will definitely play with at home.

Steamed wild bass, with crushed potatoes, sauce vierge and a herb salad
Alongside it I had a heritage tomato salad, which included some amazing orange tomatoes - I must find out the variety.  The overall combination was light and bright, satisfying, but not too rich.

Hubby also ordered a side of triple cooked chips.  I have a strange rule - I'll never eat a chip first - I find that all you then crave is salt and fat - they ruin your palate.  However I will sometimes try one after I've eaten my meal, and these were still crisp, crunch and amazing!  I wonder whether I can apply that rule in future...

Late summer tomatoes, with red onions and olive oil

The pre-dessert was a concoction of passionfruit curd, wrapped in a light lime espuma. Though a nod to the El Bulli reversed poached egg, this was a much more accessible version - the 'yolk' hadn't been created through spherification, so didn't have the 'shell' you normally associate with that process. It came with crisp shards of coconut which had been spiced warmly - the whole combination was delicious, crisp, light, but with a little heat.

Passion fruit and coconut sable, with spiced coconut,
lime espuma and passion fruit curd yolk

Hubby was unable to contemplate a pudding following his mammoth pie, but I know what to expect from Mr Fleming's kitchen, and I wasn't about to forgo that pleasure.  I opted for the chocolate fondant, with a milk ice-cream on a bed of chocolate rubble. The fondant spilled over my plate in the expected manner, but the shell was so light, fine and crisp, I'm amazed they don't rupture when handled. Excellent depth of chocolate flavour too.

Chocolate fondant, with chocolate rubble, and milk ice-cream

It's no surprise that I enjoyed my meal, I was a regular diner at Axis when Tony was in residence... The difference with South Place is that, actually, it doesn't feel like a hotel at all. With so many dining and drinking spaces, the whole atmosphere is very buzzy, and feels like a private club - indeed, very like a gleaming modernistic Home House.  I had an excellent martini in one of the bars before making my way upstairs. There are places to hide - places to be seen - private rooms rather appropriately named after spies in Bond, U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers... Add to that an excellent kitchen with a solid brigade of well trained chefs, and it's going to be a winner.

I love Mr Fleming's new home, and look forward to returning very soon.

Pictures from 12th December 2012, the tuna tartar and sole meunière were delicious!

Foie, duck and artichoke terrine with brioche and aged Madeira jelly

Crab raviolo, with shellfish foam

Foie gras and chicken liver parfait

Yellow-fin tuna tartar, with chilli and lime

Daily mixed grill 
Dover sole meunière, with béarnaise sauce

The Angler
South Place Hotel
3 South Place
London EC2M 2AF
020 7215 1260

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