One-O-One (Knightsbridge), is the second restaurant-in-a-hotel I have visited in the past week. The first, Peninsula, was a bit of a diamond in the rough. One-O-One, although not quite the opposite, was rather disappointing in light of my high hopes and it ain’t cheap either – starters range from £14-£19, mains are £23-£29 or you can create your own tasting menu with 3-6 ‘petit plats’. With hindsight now I wish I had chosen the latter option, as at least with more variety in front of me the odds would have been stacked in my favour.
We kicked off with a forgettable morsel of brandade of cod and salmon with teeny weeny toast before moving on to starters – my choice being ‘red tuna tartar with crispy soft shell crab tempura, sushi rice and wasabi sorbet’. This was the best course of the meal and I’ll give you the good news first – the fish was soft and fresh and the wasabi sorbet and cubes of pickled ginger jelly were a joy, if mostly due to the excitement of tasting those flavours in an unusual form.
The soft shell crab however tasted mostly of batter and oil and I plead with you to tell me where I can find a decent version in London – every one I’ve tasted has been lacking in one essential flavour – crab. The sushi rice was fine, that is until I discovered a piece of cling film er, clinging to it. Not the greatest culinary crime ever committed but genuinely gross in the mouth nonetheless.
For the main course, my friend and I shared this magnificent seabass ‘baked in a crust of Brittany sea salt with shellfish, champagne and butter sauce and sea lettuce mash’. The spectacle of filleting the bass at the table livened things up a bit, although I actually had to sit on my hands to avoid reaching out and cracking the crust myself. I attempted this recipe at home recently with slightly more messy results as you can see (below). Purely by luck however, mine turned out flaky and moist while the One-O-One version was a bit on the mushy side – a shame because the accompanying sauce was rich and silky.
My main issue with this dish though was the razor clam shell arrangement at the far side of the plate. Why would they tease us with the idea of the clam, only to serve up two (barely 2mm thick) rubbery slices nestled amongst some mussels and winkles? The mash was also disappointing – barely on the right side of gluey in texture and somewhat lacking the promised flavour of sea lettuce.
Now at this point the batteries on my camera ran out so I’m afraid we have to make do with a woefully inadequate IPhone picture. Don’t worry though, because there isn’t much more to see. We skipped dessert and moved straight to coffee. Some petit fours arrived which were, quite frankly, a bit crap. Actually, I rather enjoyed the passion fruit jelly so perhaps they were all tainted by the truly terrible macarons – like chewing on pieces of two day old meringue, not the slightest hint of melt in the mouth about them.
Considering that one of my dining companions had recently enjoyed an excellent meal at One-O-One, I can only conclude that the quality of the cooking is erratic. On this occasion we got off lightly thanks to a Top Table offer of 50% discount and the removal of my starter from the bill, meaning the damage came in at only £45 a head (including two bottles of Riesling). If I were paying full whack however, I can imagine feeling a bit ripped off.
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