Meal at The Man Behind The Curtain

Meal at The Man Behind The Curtain

at The Man Behind The Curtain on 14 April 2017
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One of the most eagerly awaited visits for me.  I always remember Marcus Wareing’s look of disbelief on the Great British Menu (GBM) when he saw Michael O’Hare’s dishes for the first time; I could see his engines of anger beginning to fire up owing to how utterly alien they looked…until he tasted the beauty of what it turned out to be, replacing his emotions in to virtual elation.  Not only did Michael O’Hare go on to champion the GBM fish course (which I was delighted to see on his menu on my visit) but he also picked up a Michelin star the same year.  As a summary for my visit here, there is no doubt in my mind that his signature dishes are some of the finest I have ever tasted but I thought the opening snacks were less successful.  It was still a fantastic meal, strange as it was to enter a clothes shop as the entrance to get to the elevator to the third floor of this very different looking restaurant – but it’s good to be not boring and usual(!).  I believe they are moving down to the basement in mid-late 2017 where entering the restaurant will be through its own door, which will obvioulsy be a good move and less confusing for new comers.  Overall, a superb meal.

Opting for the full tasting menu, it started with several snacks, first up being a foie gras mini-doughnut which had beautifully runny foie gras and the play of sweet from white chocolate coating at start was a little strange but as they mixed it balanced well.  Then, an utterly luscious piece of octopus which was so smooth with gorgeous, soft lemon butter with capers and paprika emulsion.  Next up, a mini bun with XO sauce and mint which was a little too squidgy, for me with bits sticking on anything that touched it – not my favourite.

Opting for the full tasting menu, it started with several snacks, first up being a foie gras mini-doughnut which had beautifully runny foie gras and the play of sweet from white chocolate coating at start was a little strange but as they mixed it balanced well.  Then, an utterly luscious piece of octopus which was so smooth with gorgeous, soft lemon butter with capers and paprika emulsion.  Next up, a mini bun with XO sauce and mint which was a little too squidgy, for me with bits sticking on anything that touched it – not my favourite.

Then a whole Denia Prawn from Spain, which was bright red, very soft and a nice way to present in that the barbequed head was advised to be pulled away enabling you to squeeze the head to coat the raw body with its own ‘brain sauce’.  This is a deep water prawn which comes from 10,000 feet below the surface as deep water prawn.  In spite of the originality of the ingredient and the presentation, unfortunately the deep sea flavour combined with the sludgy quality of the body, meant I’m afraid this was just not my thing as I believe there are only certain fish that are good to have raw and this was a little step too far for me.

Anyway, on to the wagyu which was gloriously tender with clever presentation but I ended up getting more olive oil than wagyu flavour.  The hake with dumpling and garlic and Aki (Jamaican fruit) sauce with chilli on top was cooked beautifully and was delightfully salty and creamy sauce with just enough heat from the chilli and wholeness from the dumpling – this was lovely.

Next was a crab lasagne with a lovely combination of heat, fat, freshness, crunch and richness of egg and acidic touch of bilbury gel on top – everything worked well together and for me with this dish which was very enjoyable.  Then, it was time for the eagerly awaited signature cod, which really was outstanding – if it wasn’t I would say so, but this was a total victory.  The cod melted in the mouth like butter, the crunch from potato was near wonderful and light, the squid sauce was decadent and rich but fresh and not too salty at the same time which was all outstanding.  The only thing I could fault on this dish was at the end a fair amount of the potato shavings had fallen in to the squid sauce losing their crunchful purpose but when the flavours are as good as this, you tend to forgive things like this.

Then another really strong dish came in the shape of pork loin and shoulder with burnt breadcrums that was somehow sweet, with a clever, edible shell from garlic sherry sauce, anchovies and anchovie emulsion.  The design, execution and flavour of this dish was an absolute winner with sweets, salts, richness and tender meat all coming together in such pleasant harmony.  The main plus point on this dish I thought was the fact that the garlic, anchovies and rich sauce were powerful but crucially didn’t allow the main singer of the band to be drowned out so I thought this was sheer quality.

And if I thought it couldn’t get better then frankly the milk chocolate, (spray painted silver) honey, violet, potato puffs and potato mousse was one of the nicest desserts I have ever had.  You just wouldn’t expect any of these combinations to work and yet they absolutely did, through a stunning play of cream, puff, sweet, bitter and textures.  The potato mouse was just awesome and the gooey violet cream was original and fresh, backed up by a perfect crunch within the chocolate – this was simply brilliant and goes in to one of the best all time dishes folder….

Petit fours came in an original way as well with a perfect cup cake with praline and edible paper along side a unique ‘head’ cup.  The remaining sweet nibbles had a lovely pop in middle of the liquid with a light cream and the salted caramel with milk chocolate and caraway on top had an interesting aniseed and fennel fragrance.

This was a superb meal no question.  The real explosions came at the signature dish time, but it was all highly original, fun and served with attentive and warm hospitality.  Because the design of the restaurant is so different and unique, it actually works for any equation whether it is a fun lunch, a romantic occasion, or for plain food nuts like myself – it’s all well done and I give it a hearty thumbs up for all.

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9 / 10

Man Behind The Curtain – located at the third floor

Entrance as at Apr 17

Way to the restaurant as at Apr 17

Man Behind The Curtain (1)

Man Behind The Curtain (2)

Menu choices as at Apr 17

Foie gras doughnut

Octopus, capers and lemon

Mini bun & XO sauce

Denia red prawn

Denia red prawn with own juices

Hake with dumpling, garlic and aki

Wagyu & olive oil

Crab lasagne

Signature cod (1)

Signature cod (1)

Pork

Milk chocolate, honey and violet

Violet cream

Cup cake with edible wrapping

Petit fours

The lunch tasting menu bill for 1

The Man Behind The Curtain entrance & departure point