Tom Kerridge is the brains behind Marlowes the Hand and Flowers – the worlds first and as far as I’m aware, only 2 Michelin starred pub http://www.thehandandflowers.co.uk/. As I’ve never been fortunate enough to eat at the Hand and Flowers when I saw he was a guest chef at Sentosas Capella hotel http://www.capellahotels.com/singapore/about-en.html?gclid=CMe989P1p7ACFUcb6woduxhLVw I knew I would have to take the opportunity to sample his cooking.
We turned up at the Knolls restaurant at Capella with high expectations for the meal ahead, a 4 course lunch with 2 courses cooked by Chef Tom and 2 by the team at Capella priced at $98.
The Knolls is a light, bright, modern and airy restaurant and for a Wednesday lunch they were certainly doing brisk business, from important looking business meetings to glamorous ladies that lunch, oh and us! The first course was described simply on the menu as “moules marinieres with brown bread” and was one of Toms dishes.
I’m not the biggest fan of mussels to be honest but when you have the opportunity to have a 2 Michelin star chef cooking for you, you don’t start changing the menu and I’m glad I didn’t. What was placed in front of us bore about as much recognition to traditional moules marinieres as I do to Claudia Schiffer.
As the waiter lifted the lid from our porcelain dish we were met with the sight of a mussel and stout foam in which a good dozen or so mussels were nestled along with a crunchy and zingy vegetable brunoise. Each mouthful was simply delicious, none of the chewy, gritty mussels I have such an aversion to but plump, succulent mussels that just melted in the mouth and I was sorry when I finished the dish.
Next up was a dish showcasing the Chefs at Capellas talents, a seared scallop served on a smear of cod brandade with a drizzle of light parsley oil, white asparagus foam and bleak roe, a Scandinavian delicacy that bought a mineral flavour to the earthy parsley and asparagus which was much appreciated.
The main course was Chicken with a pistachio crust, lovage poached turnips, soft polenta with truffle and a crystal clear chicken broth. The polenta was rich and creamy and the black truffle (which was in the polenta and liberally grated over the top of the dish) was of course a highlight. The turnips had been infused with the lovage and helped them to hold their won amongst the other stronger flavours of the dish.
The chicken breast was beautifully prepared and as well as pistachios it seemed to have pieces of crispy chicken skin and breadcrumbs forming the “crumble” on top. The overall dish was incredibly light and fresh and really in tune with Toms modern British food philosophy, something I, as a Brit am always delighted by.
Dessert was supposed to be a mango Pavlova but we were lucky enough to be sent their dessert from the evening menu, one of Toms signature dishes of liquorice meringues, tonka bean pannacotta, poached strawberries, honeycomb and strawberry ice cream.
The tonka bean pannacotta was perfect, not too sweet as say a vanilla version might have been but full of tonkas slight herbaceous qualities which worked in harmony with the juicy, sweet poached strawberries and ice cream – again, I was sorry when I’d finished this dish and could have happily polished off a few more even though I was full to bursting by this point, 4 courses lunches are certainly not a regular occurrence for me, although my waistline might suggest otherwise!
With water and a bottle of Spanish white wine (chosen to be a light compliment to the meal as opposed to overpowering it with something more full bodied) Lunch came to just over $280 which again is not what I would usually spend on lunch for two but in light of what we ate, and where we ate it, seemed a bargain.
The Hand and Flowers has jumped to the top of places to visit next time I’m back in the UK and after chatting with the staff at Capella, I will be heading back there to try out one of there bi annual Spanish nights as soon as I get a chance. It’s great to see Chefs like this flying the flag for Britain and showing the world what Great British cooking is all about.