Tuesday, 2 April 2013

REVIEW: Outlaw's at the Capital, Basil Street, Knightsbridge

If you’re into your food then you have probably already heard of Nathan Outlaw. He's appeared on Saturday Kitchen, Great British Menu and worked alongside chef, Rick Stein. Nathan has cooking beside numerous chefs in his early career but he is now most famous for his own restaurant, known simply as 'Restaurant Nathan Outlaw', located in Cornwall.


Nathan is known for having some of the best and freshest seafood in Cornwall. With him being such a huge success it was only time till he came to London, along with everyone else. He’s now taken over the restaurant at the Capital Hotel in prestigious Knightsbridge. I've been meaning to try it since it opened but only got round to it now. It has a very attractive selling point too, its set-menu. Very competitive, at only £25 for three courses Monday-Saturday lunch. We toiled over the menu in the bar prior. I had a whisky sour, which was lacking in, whisky.

The decor is OK, already a bit dated. I’m guessing it still retains a lot of the previous restaurants fixtures and never went through a full revamp for Nathans arrival. We were the second table when we arrived and the room felt a bit desolate and cold. Halfway through it filled up nicely and managed to claw back some of its atmosphere. It seems to attract the local Knightsbridge crowd well and by the time we left the room was completely full. The usual bread offering arrived at our table. It was very well made, i wish i could make bread at home taste this good. The cornish butter was also exellent.


While we continued to decide on what we would eat some delicate crunchy fish balls arrived. Coated in a golden crumb, with not a trace of oil and the fish was seasoned to perfection. I could have happily eaten with some vegetable and had it for my main course. I only wish I remember what the green mayonnaise was flavored with, it was equally as heavenly.


Crispy egg, young leeks, blue cheese and watercress was covered in the same golden crispy crumb as before. The egg was cooked almost perfectly, and the grilled leeks were soft and smoky. I loved the blue cheese which was not to overpowering and also went beautifully with the house wine. I'm told the wine is made by the owner of the Capital Hotel from their vineyards in the Loire. For a house wine it was excellent and prompted a bottle to arrive.

The ham hock with an apple and celeriac dressing was beautifully marbled and packed in lots of flavour. For a dense terrine like dish it was surprisingly light. The apple and celeriac sauce had a nice bite and mouthwatering acidity. A terrine is normally a good way to fill out a set-menu, at least here it has been given some love, and effort.

For mains I had the ling, which I must say I have not eaten before. Accompanying the fish was some Cornish salami, cabbage and salsify. I found the ling to be much similar to cod, but with a meatier texture and a little more flavour.  It was buttery and seasoned very well, with a nice crust that had formed on the top giving it a lovely crunch. The unexpected goujons were something I couldn’t quite warm too, very dense. Cornish salami, cabbage and salsify in a salsa style were lovely, and went incredibly well with the fish. I really enjoyed this dish and it was recommended to me by the waitress.

The braised ox cheek with shallots, carrots and roasted garlic mash was a solid, well-cooked dish. The cheek was soft and tender, but lacked in a little flavour. It’s normally quite a strong flavored piece of meat. The mash was smooth but the garlic was overpowering and the sauce was rather light – I normally prefer something thicker and heavier with ox cheek. Saying that, every dish was incredibly fresh and light, so although it wasn’t completely to my taste, it was fitting with the light menu.


Desserts were good but probably the lowest points of our meal. The chocolate sponge with lime curd and pistachio ice cream was a short wait of 10-15 minutes; this was because it is cooked fresh to order. The sponge was light, but a little dry overall. Lime curd was good and the pistachio ice cream needed more flavour running through it.


Saffron bun pudding was perhaps one of the strangest desserts I’ve had for some time. Did I like it? I’m not sure. The bun pudding was light and spongy, but oily with a strong flavour of saffron. It was quite overpowering. The pieces of rhubarb were wonderful, crunchy and sweet, slightly candied. The vanilla ice cream was nice, but I wasn’t mesmerized by it. I have yet to find amazing ice cream in London.
If you were looking for a taster of what Nathan Outlaws Cornish restaurant was like, I don’t think this would be it.  The restaurant at the Capital Hotel has received some bad critic from well know reviewers, but I don’t think it deserves it. It may not be a true reflection of his restaurant in Cornwall, but I think of it as a separate venture. I look forward to returning. Especially for some more of that Loire Sauvignon!
7/10
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