There seems to be a new trend going around London: Four course tasting menus with snacks. It’s a thing apparently. The first place I had it was at Lyle’s (where I was very impressed the first time, then less so once they obtained their Michelin star) followed by Sager + Wilde Restaurant (of which I’m still very impressed). So when The Frog restaurant came on my radar, I really wanted to try it. It’s started by former Professional Masterchef contestant Adam Handling, and it’s always interesting to see if the food is as good in person as it is on television. (And given previous experiences, it’s definitely a mixed bag.) Since my husband had a work engagement in London, it was the perfect excuse to go and give it a try.
It’s in one of those hip and trendy areas (the Old Truman Brewery) and from my seat I could see my favorite Buffalo Wing van across the way. Sitting there, I definitely hoped that I wasn’t going to think I should have just had wings for dinner. I mean it’s always possible. We looked at both the a la carte menu and the tasting menu to decide what we wanted. I didn’t really like the look of the tasting menu until I found out my menu was completely different than my husband’s and mine was not the actual menu. There were a few things on the a la carte menu that looked amazing (I mean, mac and cheese? Oh yes), but we did decide on the tasting menu with wine pairings as there seemed to be a good selection of things.
They brought us a glass of pretty tasty Prosecco to go with the snacks, but unfortunately due to the massive heat wave in London (oh yes, it turns out we booked in on #thehottestdayoftheyear, and it made us thirstier than usual with the dearth of air conditioning around), we ended up ordering a second glass. The first snack of chorizo, cheese and onion was incredibly flavorful, and I felt like I could just eat a huge bowl full of the fried balls of goodness. Beetroot, beetroot and more beetroot was a palette of purple color and looked amazing when it arrived. It also tasted amazing, but we definitely felt like we couldn’t eat all the beetroot powder on the plate. Beer, beef and egg is still a bit of mystery to me – A tasty mystery though – as I’m still not sure where the beer fit in, but the cracker and beef was a delicious bite of food. The bread was very good, but the chicken butter didn’t taste of much more than butter, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
After the amazing selection of snacks, we were definitely hoping that the meal was going to continue to be amazing. Our next course of crab, apple and avocado was spectacular, and the wine they paired with it was amazing. My husband says it’s one of the best he’s had in a long time. On the other hand he also told me he’s never had crab and apple before until I reminded him that I did something similar at home (crab ice cream with apple) so he’s definitely had it. Oh well! I’m pretty sure this dish was much better than mine.
Next up was the hake, limestone potato and tarragon followed by the Iberico, potato, sour cream and garlic. The hake dish was quite a treat as the flavors were pretty fantastic (and I’m not usually a fish course fan), and I’m sure amount of butter really helped. And the fact the hake was full of flavor and perfectly cooked. The pork dish was really good as well, but probably one of my least favorite of the evening, as it just lacked a bit of the wow factor from the others. It didn’t stop me from eating it. Also the pairing here wasn’t the best for me either (but I still enjoyed it, just compared to everything else…)
Next we had the supplemental cheese course: Cheese doughnuts. I mean yes it was an additional £4, but how could someone pass up cheese? And doughnuts? And it was 100% worth it. Definitely go for it. Then we got our dessert course drink pairing: a kombucha bellini. I’m not gonna lie, I was kind of dreading it when I heard that was what we were having. I mean I lived in Santa Cruz; it’s pretty much the kombucha capital of the the world. I can’t tell you how many different kombucha drinks I saw in the stores there. I really thought I would hate it. But really, it was incredibly tasty. A bit sweet, but it’s alright for a dessert drink I think. Unfortunately, at this point the service did slow down quite a bit as the restaurant filled up so there was a very long break between the cheese doughnut and our pre-dessert. And we may have accidentally finished the bellini. Oops. Luckily, the service was so good that they got us another to go with it.
The pre-dessert was fantastic: Hazelnut, cherry and chocolate. The cherry was tart and really offset the sweet granola and rich chocolate. It was definitely a great mix on the palate and made us incredibly happy. We may have accidentally finished our cocktails again, so we ordered a few more of the cocktail list: A Negroni and an Espresso Martini. I thought the martini would go great with my dessert choice of the nitro tiramisu. The other dessert option we went for was the burnt honey, malted ice cream and lemon.
The desserts were actually a bit too sweet in all honesty. The tiramisu was less espresso-ey and creamy and more chocolately and salted caramely. The ice cream was also a bit sweet, with a bit of lemon to help contrast, but not enough to cut the sweetness too much. And our cocktails kind of showed up as digestifs, which was fine. My espresso martini was also on the sweet side, I’m more of a fan of the espresso with a shot of vodka type, but I still enjoyed it. The negroni was quite good though, so I can imagine coming here and trying many of the cocktails before your dinner booking. In fact, one couple came in with an 8:00 booking slightly after we arrived, so had plenty of time to give the drinks a go.
All in all we had a great meal here. The food was pretty fantastic, with fairly good service to start and a bit of a drop when they got busy. It’s definitely got that hipster/modern/industrial vibe with eclectic wooden tables and seating. But if the food is good (and you can make a booking!), I don’t really care. Hopefully we’ll be back, and hopefully it will still be good. I really don’t want to see another Lyle’s situation. Oh and if you want to see Adam at work (he did even bring us our first snack), here are a couple of photos for you to look at…
The Frog Restaurant
2 Ely’s Yard, Old Truman Brewery, Hanbury Street E1 6QR