Home House London – New Spring Menu

Jeremy Brown has worked extensively in the London restaurant scene from the Marco Pierre White group to Hotel Café Royal and the Ritz where he was in charge of a mind-boggling 55 chefs. Having been appointed executive chef at Home House back in 2012 he now returns for a second stint, the general idea of which is to riff on seasonal British fare. I had a perfect lunch here back in December (read here) when Brown wasn’t physcially on the premises but had designed the menu. That’s history, now, but happily for the club members, the arrival of Spring brings a new gastronomic experience with equally playful but classic dishes.

The elegant, practically regal, dining room remains unchanged except for the art on the wall; no longer bright and buoyant wildlife but more static abstractions, still bright, but a larger, younger kind of Howard Hodgkin. That said, the art is behind us and to our sides as we’re seated at what must be the most intimate of tables, our backs to the entire restaurant, looking over Marylebone’s serene Portman Square. It’s not quite Central Park but the tall, spindly trees, the grassy square itself, the chinks of office lighting in the distance, conjure it up. Certainly, the classical piano fluttering in the background, the glasses of Möet & Chandon bubbling in the foreground, and the almost full moon outside, all contribute to a private dining experience which feels special and as if it’s straight out of Sex And The City.

I don’t notice many similarities in the menu from December but the Scotch Egg is still there. At Christmas, it was a Haggis Scotch Egg with watercress and pigeon salad but for Spring, it’s a Black Pudding one with anchovy and tomato ketchup. We consider this for our starter but opt against it. Steak Tartare comes in many shapes and sizes but here it comes with a truffle mayonnaise, a small, very orange egg yolk and a slice of sourdough crispy bread. Rather than stuffing the meat full of tomatoes and herbs, this is a relatively light tartare which is hand-cut for extra texture and has little more than finely chopped chunks of onion and chives to accompany it. The mayonnaise is a testimony to the versatility of the truffle and the tartare, which is sublime, is as equally enjoyable spread onto the sourdough as it is unaccompanied. Although there’s no indication from the menu, the scallop is served sashimi style. It comes in a shell on a bed of decorative but dark seaweed and is surprisingly silky in texture. It’s sweetened with sugar and accompanied by blood orange and pea-sized dollops of avocado purée. The blood orange’s acidity is countered with a subtle vinaigrette and the fish melts effortlessly into the stomach.

We have a Tambora Alboriño from Galicia to accompany. Naturally, it works well with both meat and fish and is zesty, light and refreshing.  For mains, our ever-attentive sommelier, Alis, recommends two different wines; a St Francis Chardonnay from Sonoma County, California which is creamy and possesses various fruity flavours including apple, lemon and orange zest. It works perfectly with the Grilled Dover Sole which comes with both options; on and off the bone. The latter seems the only sensible choice not least because there are so many tastes and textures to concentrate on.

The sole has a thin crispy coat and drips in a flood of lip-smacking parsley brown butter sauce. Accompanied by brown shrimps, capers for a bit of saltiness and strips of cucumber for an extra bit of crunch and viscosity, it is nonetheless the delicate and unique Dover Sole flavour that still triumphs. Alis recommends the Cailleteau Bergeron Prestige from Bordeaux to accompany the Black Face lamb rump and pressed belly.

The wine has hints of vanilla and chocolate. The lamb comes medium to rare, is succulent and as excellent as you’d hope but it’s the oblong pressed lamb belly which surprises the most. Its crispy exterior (not dissimilar to pork belly) belies its smooth, velvety interior and the black olive jus adds richness and depth to both meats.

Alis serves with a cheeky but happy smile and a deep foundation of knowledge, all of which suggests he’d prefer to be nowhere but right there, serving his wine to us. He understands when to engage and when to leave alone. Slightly different in style, more austere, but with a sly sense of humour, nonetheless, is senior waiter, Kuwar who complements Alis perfectly. His desire and willingness to share a knowledge of food in general and his understanding of the menu, specifically, is paramount. The front-of-house holy trinity is completed by Hamid, the restaurant manager, who seems to run a tight but happy ship, is welcoming and practically seems like an old friend the moment you enter his premises. All men possess top skills in their chosen profession and contribute to making the dining experience as special as it is.

I have exactly the same for dessert as I had in December. Nick-named the ‘Posh Twix’, this is a House members’ favourite and I can only go along with the majority and agree wholeheartedly. Officially described as ‘Salt caramel and hazelnut chocolate finger’, this is a must for any self-respecting sweet tooth or chocaholic. There’s a liquid rush of caramel as you bite into the finger and a tight but crunchy, biscuity base to ground the heady sweetness. Best thing is not to talk whilst eating, just luxuriate in the dessert’s decadence. Alis recommends a Hungarian Tokaji Dorgó to go with our desserts; it has a honeyed, fruity flavour balanced with a hint of lemon acidity and works as well with the Posh Twix as the Tiramisu which, unusually in restaurants, is served straight from its (orange) tray. This is one of Jeremy Brown’s favourites; a classic and no messing. It’s more structured and less messy than some, more elegant therefore. It’s probably also less alcoholic but the amaretto is still the prime flavour here and it feels exactly the right temperature; cool but not cold. It’s another top-quality meal and I can’t wait until the Summer menu!

Contact Details

Website: www.homehouse.co.uk
Address: 20 Portman Square, London W1H 6LW

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