I don't venture to Knightsbridge often, but returning to One-O-One Restaurant at The Park Tower Knightsbridge was like seeing an old friend; after all, it was where John and I first met Udita's now-husband, Karim, and I have terrific memories of us chatting the night away over a delicious multi-course menu.
Last Friday was no different: John and I had been graciously invited to sample One-O-One Head Chef Pascal Proyart's 5-course tasting menu, created to celebrate the 60th anniversary of British favorite, the fish finger. And believe me - the menu was as far from the type of fish finger you'd commonly find in the frozen food aisle as you could get!
And, One-O-One was just as I had remembered it: the same gracious service in the same timeless, elegant setting. Inside, the roar of Ferraris and Porches and the customers stumbling out of Harvey Nichols and Harrods with bagfuls of designer goods dangling from their arms is completely forgotten as the restaurant's lovely setting promotes a tranquil, calm atmosphere. It's one of those restaurants that I'd go to for a celebration or an anniversary (fitting then, as we were celebrating the fish finger!).
I don't want to ruin the surprise for you in case you venture to One-O-One to try the menu for yourself (and you should!), but here were a few of the highlights:
We began with the fish finger amuse bouche du jour, a crispy shrimp cake, which did just the trick in warming up our palates for the main course(s).
The first course was my favorite, and one that I lingered over: yellowfin tuna tartar with oyster and caviar, plus seaweed potato mash and tartare sauce on the side. I'm a huge fan of tuna tartar, but was bowled over by the presentation - the glittering speckles of caviar resembled the sea floor, complete with green "plants" growing out of the "bed"!
The éclair of lobster boudin, topped with scallop with autumn truffle, creamed leek and sauce cardinal was another creative take on the fish finger and resembled a mini hot dog - reminding me of a seaside resort or a fun fair at the end of Brighton pier. The addition of truffle slivers made it fancy (although the fact that it was lobster already impressed), but the shape added a bit of irreverence - some tongue-in-cheek fun.
Another favorite of mine was the salmon bon bon with wasabi mushy peas and sweet chilli and mint sauce - missing from this photo was the soy sauce pipette, which added just the right amount of salty goodness to this crispy, Asian-inspired dish.
The plating of this particular dish was nothing short of creative: the little "tails" of salmon parcels stood from the plate, resembling whales or fish diving into the sea of mushy peas (which were delicious, by the way) and the garnish formed a perfect arc - how's that for detail?!
Unfortunately, at this point I began to feel very full and as a result, hardly touched the next course of battered royal king crab and cod and chips, though it was also one of the highlights of the meal.
By the time dessert arrived, we were full and clutching our stomachs (a word of advice: skip lunch and arrive very, very hungry!). But it was so beautiful, we couldn't resist tucking in anyway: éclair of pineapple with coconut & vanilla Chantilly and rum pina colada sorbet.
A spoonful of that pina colada sorbet was like dipping our toes into the ocean during a beach holiday: the combination of pineapple and coconut always screams "Vacation!" to me, and this dessert seemed like the only fitting final bow to an exemplary, fish-focused menu.
During dessert, a celebrity guest arrived (though I had no idea): Pelé, perhaps the best known football (AKA soccer) star of all time. He remained unnoticed to me, settling in with a group of friends at the opposite table, until John turned around to go to the bathroom and nearly fainted from excitement.
Of course, the staff were discreet and hosted their celebrity guest with the quiet professionalism they do best, but it didn't stop the couple next to us pretending to take photos of their meal, only to capture Pelé in the background. I did stifle a laugh however, when I overheard a staff member introducing the fish finger tasting menu to him which evoked the confused response, "What is this, 'fish finger'?"
Our bellies full and having had a wonderful evening, we strolled out into enjoy the last bit of warmth in evening air while John wistfully craned his neck to get one last glimpse of his football hero through One-O-One's windows.
Celebrity-sighting or not, One-O-One's celebratory fish finger menu is one for the memory books: innovative, beautifully presented, and downright delicious.
Special thanks to One-O-One Restaurant in Knightsbridge and Starwood PR for graciously hosting us! All opinions are my own. One-O-One Restaurant's Fish Finger Tasting Menu is available to book until 17 October 2015; to place your reservation and read more about the menu, click here. The menu is also available as a 2- or 3- course lunch and dinner menu.