Sunday, 7 June 2015

GRAIN STORE UNLEASHED

Grain Store Unleashed is one of the latest ventures by Chef Bruno Loubet and The Zetter Group, based on a concept where vegetables are the stars of the show, with an even more adventurous and experimental approach.
I tried the Grain Store near King's Cross a while back, which I remember was rather charming, so I was interested to see what this place was like.


Only the tasting menu is available during dinner service, of which you have the options to go for the 4 course (£28.50), 6 course (£34.50), or 8 course menu (£39). Diners may choose to either go for the regular tasting menu or the vegetarian version, with the exception that everyone on the same table has to go for the same amount of courses. We went for the 6 course tasting menu, and started off with some warm corn brioche bread served with avocado butter.


The first course was the vegetal oyster & caviar, the vegetarian alternative using the edible root of salsify with a taste that is said to resemble that of oysters. Served in an actual oyster shell with some lovely pearls of caviar, it was really refreshing with a slight taste of the sea - the pleasant feel of the sea breeze brushing against your skin rather than the choking mouthfuls of salty seawater when a wave crashes above you. With it came served "Bottom of the sea" which consisted of a dehydrated cracker with a slight hint of saltiness, topped with creamy droplets of puree and edible flower(s).



Next was the vegetable chorizo stuffed courgette flowers with parsley sauce. I do love courgette flowers, although I don't think I was quite convinced by the texture of the vegetable chorizo marinated in spices (paprika?). Maybe I'm just too much of a chorizo lover.


The fish dish was soya and sesame glazed mackerel - a few Asian flavours going on here which I liked, although I feel that the sesame seeds could have done with a bit more toasting to add a deeper flavour to it. This was accompanied by slices of pickled heritage raddish, beetroot and samphire.


The fourth course consisted of a single Charlotte potato with a spring cabbage roasted with bay leaf, caraway seeds and crème fraîche butter. Not quite your average substantial chicken dish, but rather served with a runny poached egg (everyone loves a bit of 'eggporn'), and a light crisp bit of chicken skin.


The meatiest dish was mini osso buco, an Italian/Milanese style of cooking (braised in wine and vegetables), typically veal, but in this case substituted with lamb. Delicious, tender meat, and resembling a bone was a tapenade crisp. Served with summer vegetables and herbs, of which those sweet tomatoes were surprisingly one of the stand out ingredients for us.



We could each choose one dessert from the menu, and since there were three of us, we just ordered one of each so that we could have a taste of everything. The first was the parsnip and white chocolate cream with matcha tea, and some pink grapefruit and passion fruit gel which gave an added a slight tangy flavour to it. The caramelised puffed did add a bit of texture to it, but I would have preferred something with a bit more crunch to it. The chocolate pie was not quite what I was expecting, using a filo pastry base instead of the usual butter pie crust. It was not exactly crispy, and not very flavourful. The chocolate sauce inside was quite nice, but the miso ice cream turned out to be more of a puddle of melted cream. 
I would probably say that the lemon and strawberries petit pot with rosemary crumble was the best amongst them - nice texture with a pleasant amount of sweetness and topped with crunchy crumble.





A few stand-out dishes, and a few which didn't quite hit the spot for us. 
Service, although pretty good at the beginning, became a bit haphazard as the evening went on. Not sure if this is common on a Thursday night, but there you go - hopefully it was a one-off occasion.
I still do believe it to be quite an interesting concept, and provides a nice alternative in the restaurant scene in London.
If you're vegetarian, vegetable lover, or just looking to try a lighter, reduced-meat menu, then this may be the place for you.

The Cheekster, signing out x



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