As you may know (check out my blog post from 2015) I have been a fan of the lovely Adam Handling since the evening before the first airing of Masterchef, the Professionals (in which he featured) when I tweeted my view that he looked like a winner (he didn’t win, but still emerged the star of the show). The FWD would almost certainly dispute that I am a fan, and would probably suggest I am more of a rather embarrassing, aging groupie, with an inappropriate crush on a late 20 something year old chef… and this is probably fair.
We first ate Adam’s food at the Caxton and it was amazing even then, and we tried again when he opened the Frog last year but events intervened and we couldn’t make it.
However, last week we rocked up to the rather cool The Frog in Spitalfields. It feels like a pop-up but isn’t. It’s not what you’d necessarily expect – after the slightly stuffy formality of the Caxton – with it’s graffiti-style logo and scribbled billet doux to Adam (and his food) on the walls. It’s kind of fine-dining meets festival grunge. But I like it, it has a great vibe and a huge open kitchen.
You feel that you are essentially sharing the same space as the chefs so it all feels quite intimate, as though you are a part of the action. And, frankly, I am way over the hovering waiters and hushed reverence of so many fine dining places. Must admit, as soon as I spotted Adam the FWD began rolling her eyes in that “Oh God you’re going to have a drink and embarrass yourself flirting with him aren’t you?” kind of a way. Me?
Firstly the food though. There is a tasting menu and a la carte “British Tapas”. We went with the tapas. I love Adam’s food, it is interesting, innovative and creative. My only reservation is his ongoing fascination with beetroot. I have tried and tried, but no, cannot get on with beetroot, just doesn’t taste pleasant to me, bit like eating soil, even if it is served “3 ways”.
We started with Burnt (Adam is fond of “burnt” stuff, we had burnt cabbage last time I seem to recall – which is now a bit of a thing in lots of places) Toast, tomato and basil, Smoked Cod with caviar and the Pork with Lovage. These “eat with your hands” snacks were so good, great flavours, quirky combinations, great textures, and who knew I loved lovage with pig? If I’m sticking my neck out the Burnt Toast was probably the favourite.
These were followed (from the Garden) by Burrata, cucumber and black olive caramel and Celeriac, truffle and yolk – gorgeously “sous vided” I’d hazard (I know that’s not a word, cheers!)
Squid, potato skin and black garlic, Salmon and Pickles and Tuna Tartar with jalapeno and avocado – this was exceptional, beautifully balanced if I may just be a slightly pretentious foodie type for a moment (from the Sea)
and Mac and Cheese (the Frog way) with fresh truffle grated on top (sooo good) and Piggy with radicchio and pear (from the Land).
I think Adam’s food is fantastic, (yes, I am perhaps a little biased but nonetheless it is so) there was not a dish no one loved and flavours and textures are refreshing and distinctive. I know there are plans to roll out some more Frogs, Covent Garden next I understand. Can this food be replicated in several outlets? I don’t know. But I still think we’re looking at some Michelin stars for this lad before long, and if not, well I think they are often overrated…..
I ended on Passionfruit, rum and coconut, with dry ice (which was for my “inner kid” it seems) and an espresso Martini (second in a week no less…get me the first at La Rock in Nottingham – more of that another time).
Loved the feel of this place, loved the food, got a selfie (several actually) with the main man and a quick squeeze (cue one mortified FWD and long suffering FWH). Service was great (some have commented otherwise but we had lovely servers – and some were the chefs themselves which adds to the sense that you are in a shared space) and the atmosphere relaxed. The Frog is not cheap, with cocktails, and wine, we went well over the £230 mark. But, hey, it’s not like I do it every week and the food is sublime. We had a fabulous evening.
Until next time….