Sat Bains at Fortnum and Mason

8 Nov

Working on a box office isn’t the most thrilling type of work. You have to deal with people and I can’t say that is one of my favourite pastimes. But, during quiet periods where the phone is not ringing I am blessed with the opportunity of browsing the internet. While the rest of you in an office have to have the mouse arrow poised over an excel spreadsheet tab to quickly cover up a cheeky Facebook stalk whilst wasting precious time that you should be filling in said spreadsheet, when I am not on the phone I don’t have to do anything. It does mean that I am that one person you always see on Facebook chat and think ‘don’t they have a life?’ – the answer is clearly not.

It was with one of these rare moments where the world was not interested in trying to purchase a ticket for Hamlet where I came across the information that Sat Bains would have a pop up style restaurant in Fortnum and Mason as part of the London Restaurant Festival. The last time I checked Nottingham was not in London, so I am not entirely sure why Sat’s food was being celebrated for this particular festival, but then the last time I checked I was not planning to go to Nottingham any time soon so all’s well that ends well. I made sure I booked a table before a dreaded ticket booker decided to dial through… I hope the reservations team are less irritated than me by someone who quite reasonably wants to make a booking.

I was pleased that there was only a tasting menu on offer so that I wouldn’t feel that pang of regret with every bite had a cheapy lunch menu been available which lack of funds would inevitably have made me choose. Even more wonderful was the choice of non-alcoholic drinks as part of the usual Fortnum and Mason menu. We ordered a jug of a homemade soft drink which had refreshing sprigs of mint, sugar syrup and a pleasing bit of fizz. Coming in cheaper than the usual amount of water we tend to drink and being available to us on the scorcher of a day it was it was a most excellent win. On top of all that, F&M also offered a pretty good bread selection and were pretty enthusiastic about making sure we were never without. This was stuff dreams were made of.

First course was Belly Pork and Crackling, Granny Smith and Picalilli.

It was very delicious, especially because I love belly pork these days, though I do have one little gripe. Now, my adventures in pig have only just started so I could be wrong, but I would just assume that belly pork would come with crackling, so the fact it was mentioned on the menu I would also assume it would be a fundamental bit of the meal. Unfortunately it wasn’t much, just a little crunch under the teeth. Oh well. The piccalilli was deconstructed, a lovely tangy sauce with beautiful flakes of cauliflower. There was some crunchy puffed rice bits as well, and even though crunchy puffed rice bits tend of taste of cardboard I didn’t mind because I quite like food with a slight cardboard taste.

Organic Salmon, Oyster Soup, Passion Fruit and Miso followed. The salmon was raw, which is the tastiest way to have salmon in my opinion as cooked it is often the most boring fish in the world. The soup was smooth and just warm and very nicely fishy. I only recall one passion fruit pip which was hiding somewhere in the soup or behind the salmon so that it came as quite a shock on my last bite – not an unpleasant one, but a fairly pointless one I would say. You may have noticed in the photo that the bits of puffed rice had reappeared again, resting in a puddle of miso. Aesthetically it made the whole dish look a bit messy, like it had been dropped on by mistake. Taste wise, I do love a slight cardboard taste.

Around this point in the meal, Sat Bains burst out of the kitchen and rushed round the dining room meeting and greeting various diners. It appeared he only wanted to chat to the ones he knew as we were ignored despite our grinning and shining faces peering up at him. I found him a bit scary actually, probably because I had spent the night before reading his responses to bad reviews of his hotel and restaurant on Trip Adviser. Luckily I had no cause for complaint so far.

The next course was the one I was most looking forward to as every word sounded like a dream – Slow Cooked Mutton, Shallot Textures, Pickled Capers.

I do like a bit of texture in my meal. The main textures of the shallot did appear to be powder and wet, but they were nice all the same. The mutton was rich and delicious and the most tender I have ever had.

Our cheese course was presented to us as cheese on toast. Reading that on the menu I did expect something a bit special, like the time I went to L’Enclume and had a sticky toffee pudding that consisted of balls of creamy liquid each taking on a flavour that makes up the much-loved desert. When we first spotted some of Sat’s cheese on toast going out to other tables it did just appear to be a slab of brie slightly melted over a crust of toast. Mark said ‘It could be one of those things where you think it is going to be just some brie on toast but is actually amazing’. Unfortunately, Mark was wrong. It was just some brie on toast, which you know, is nice, but was a bit of a let down.

Throughout our meal our waiter raved on about how great the desert was. I wasn’t that convinced as it looked to be a cold desert and I find cold deserts mostly boring. However, like the cheese on toast should have been, the Autumn Berries, Yoghurt, Hazelnut and Crispy Meringue was a complete revelation. It was cold but the contrast of sweet and sour was a wonderful delight, as were the combination of textures (the shallot textures paled in comparison). I sadly don’t remember the flavour of the granita, but it was a bitter and sour herb, set against the creamy yoghurt and crunch of hazelnuts and meringue made for a very satisfying finish.

Yes, I very much enjoyed this taster of Sat Bains. It was fresh and very well-balanced throughout. I also enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of Fortnum & Mason paired with the (now two) Michelin starred food. This was enhanced by the sun streaming through the windows, feeding my body with vitamin D. As great as it is that I got to try Sat Bain’s food on my doorstep, as chance would have it I am actually going to Nottingham for a night next month, and this experience has only encouraged me to return the visit.


5 Responses to “Sat Bains at Fortnum and Mason”

  1. Tori @ eat-tori November 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Looks like a great meal- and I love the way you put things – you’re so right ‘salmon is often the most boring fish in the world’.

    • girlinpearls November 9, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

      Thanks! Salmon always appears on the cheap lunch menu as well so along with the pea risotto that usually appears that is two of my three options cancelled out. Oh to live the life of a pauper!
      Hope you are well!

  2. Sat Bains November 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    Ahhhhh! bless……………….
    The crisps with the belly pork were the crackling….
    look forward to seeing you in Notts…

    • girlinpearls November 14, 2011 at 10:21 am #

      Oh I see! I did like those bits.
      Looking forward to seeing you in Notts too!


  1. Restaurant Sat Bains « Naomi is hungry - January 21, 2012

    […] may remember a little while ago I went to Fortnum & Mason to sample the food of Sat Bains. He left a comment on my blog explaining that the bits of puffed rice I so enjoyed the cardboardy […]

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