The American Ash crusted loin venison
Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick
9 Cursitor Street, London EC4A 1LL www.thechancery.co.uk
hile my little sis was visiting, we played a game called “perfect pair”. Salt and pepper, gin and tonic, big brother and eternal youth…you know, the usual. At the end of the week, we found a new perfect pair. Graham Long and Sylvain Gergeaux, the dazzling duo that run The Chancery. Long heads the kitchen and Gergeaux oversees the dining room and wine list. Both began their careers under the tutelage of Gordon Ramsay and have since continued in the world of Michelin stars. This is Long’s first role as head chef. A stunning debut, enhanced by Gergeaux’s charm and expertise. The dining room is very simple, in the style of a brasserie. White linen and globe pendant lights with colorful splashes of flowers. Formal, but relaxed. The menu is based on seasonal food from local purveyors. The à la carte menu offers 2 courses at £39.50 or 3 for £46.50. At £68, the tasting menu offers the best value. We chose this option with a flight of Secret wines for £95. If you are feeling extravagant, the Treasury wines up the price to £135. There are however plenty of beautiful wines to choose from, by the glass or bottle, with gems in every price class.
A slug of Krug Grande Cuvée and some crusty bread was a great start. Heirloom carrots, radicchio, crème fraîche, black quinoa and coriander was the first of 7 wonders. At first I thought, £68 and I get carrots??? Wrong. Carats! These were solid gold. Garnished with delicate poppy seed wafers and served with a wonderful, slightly blushed Pinot Grigio from Friuli. Raw marinated scallops with cucumber jelly, avocado cream, sesame filo and shiso dressing brought Long’s recent experience from Hong Kong to the table. Lovely, delicate flavors, fused together without overpowering the scallops. A glass of Portuguese Viognier was full and slightly syrupy. A good balance to the dish. Pan seared foie gras, blood orange, sherry jelly, sunflower seeds, brown bread and bitter leaves is the dish I will request on my death bed. Sheer joy. It was cooked perfectly, melting on the tongue like butter and the blood orange was inspired. A Pinot Gris didn’t quite have the body or the touch of sweetness I expect from an Alsatian wine. Fresh and smoked Cornish haddock, Jersey Royals, fresh peas, ventrèche bacon and watercress missed by a hair. Oversalted potatoes, a
small but noticeable mistake from an otherwise flawless kitchen. The full bodied Pinot Noir from Oregon with hints of black cherry, was a surprisingly perfect pairing. Ash crusted loin of venison, complimented by sweet beetroot, dates, walnuts and the savory, parmesanlike quality of dried goats cheese was a brilliant composition. The chocolate and spice of a 2009 Barolo was another super wine which we continued to enjoy with a great selection of British cheeses. Charred pineapple with pink grapefruit parfait and honey jelly was fabulously bitter. Rather than drowning it in sugar, Long embraces the bitter quality of the grapefruit and it is wonderful. As if cheese and one dessert were not enough, there followed a chocolate, caramel and peanut tart with yoghurt sorbet and malted peanuts. Gilding the lily I believe, but gild it was! I will never think of peanuts as a common bar snack again. Malted, they are divine. A sweet Chenin Blanc from the Loire was a lovely pudding wine but didn’t work with chocolate. Perfect pairings are hard to come by. Long and Gergeaux are damn close. Bread and butter!
June 2015 29