Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Giaconda Dining Room


Came back here to one of my favourite haunts for lunch with two wonderful ladies. Good food and good companions, bliss.

Saffron Risotto

Rigatoni “Puttanesca”

Halibut with Straw Potatoes

Roasted Cod

Grilled Lemon Sole

Chocolate Mousse Cake and Caramel Sauce

Iced Nougat with Raspberries

Eton Mess


Whenever I’m happy, I’m nothing but a happy biscuit. There are only currently a couple of places that, beyond my control turns me all crumbly and euphoric. They are Hereford Road and The Giaconda Dining Room. I’ve been to the latter a few times before, I come back here because of its no nonsense cooking, its welcoming atmosphere, its strangely but wonderful utilitarian service and of course the reasonable prices. All in there’s absolutely nothing frivolous about the whole establishment, it gives you exactly what’s said on the tin- chill, relax and enjoy the food.

Today’s visit was for a reason, and a rather special one for that matter. The following has been copied and pasted from GDR’s site-

11th November 2008
While cycling home from work on Halloween night our chef, Paul Merrony, fell off his bike and broke his arm (in about 16 places). Stuff happens. Sadly therefore we will be closed until at least the 25th November when we will be getting back on the bike and reopening with our delicious and interesting new ‘One Armed Chef’ Menu. We will only be opening for Lunches until the end of the year. We’ll reopen on the 5th January with our regular “Two armed Chef” Menu, as before. Please accept our grovlling (sic) apologies for all inconvenience we have caused you.

Paul Merrony

Well there you have it, the chef Paul Merrony deserves a frigging medal for this sort of commitment alone. Within half a year of opening the GDR, he’s already turned himself into a legend, probably not intentionally but whether he likes it or not it’s been bestowed upon him and I daresay he’s probably one of the few blokes around who’s able to uphold it.

The ‘One Armed Chef’ Menu is one of those rare things that you boast to other foodies that you’ve been there and done that. It might sound gimmicky but it was hardly a novelty. The food produced and cooked was nothing short of serious and utterly delicious.

It was also worth pointing out that the fellow diners observed during lunch today were obviously regulars and it was gratifying to see they were enjoying themselves at the same time.

KC’s Blanquette of Coco Beans & Ham Hock- declared rich, thick, perfectly salty and ultimately filling. He loved it, this soup was very nearly a dish unto itself and just as well he ignored the breadbasket to make room for the mains and pudding.

My Marinade of Raw Salmon with Cucumber, Fennel & Grated Salt Cod was brilliant. This deceptively simple looking dish often throws me and probably a few others as well. Try making this at home and I can guarantee it’ll never taste as good as GDR’s.

Our shared mains of Paella “The Fields” – which includes Rabbit, Partridge, Chicken, Snails and Chorizo. OK, I’ve never been to Valencia, and to think that an Aussie in London has concocted this dish. At this stage alone I’m not going to be lectured on me not tasting the real thing; I don’t care, as far as I'm concerned this is the best paella I’ve tasted to date.

The rabbit was beautifully tender as well as amazingly, the snails. The not too intrusive gaminess of the partridge mated beautifully with the spicy chorizo.

KC’s Chocolate Truffle Cake with Coffee Sauce. He was really slowing down here now, as he was pretty much stuffed. The amusing thing was he kept saying he’s not having anymore, quarter of an hour later the plate was empty. He cited the cake was actually rather light with a moussey consistency, it was quite simply gorgeous.

My Colston Bassett Stilton and fig cake (heavy and stodgy). I stuffed the cheese in with more bread than you can imagine and ignored the crackers. As always the belt was loosened thereafter.

Foodies who frequent and advocate three star restaurants only need not apply here at the GDR. For they’ll only complain and rant incessantly about the lack of amuse-bouches, the ne
ar elbow to elbow dining, a maître d' to lick their proverbial and satisfy their every whim, the lack of sophistication on the plating up of dishes, the Eton Mess served in a dessert plate instead of a large wine goblet, the location and close proximity to the Centre Point Tower and so on. I think these peeps should stay away, even if they did enjoy the cooking it’ll be hard for them to admit to it in the first place.

Paul Merrony, welcome back (well doubly so, first from Sydney and secondly the broken arm fiasco) and long may the GDR flourish in London. Thank you so.

My past review.

9 Denmark Street


Anonymous said...

Wow! So admirable and it all looks divine! I really must check it out asap. Shame they're not open at weekends though...


bellaphon said...

I've spoken to Paul's other half who heads the front of house about their weekends policy, she uttered something about their young family and quality time. Fair do's I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Glad they are still able to serve up some great food, even with a 'One Armed Chef'. That paella sounds delicious.