As an events professional I am always keen to investigate new venues and restaurants as possible destinations for events and special gatherings. So, every month I am going to share with you my top pick. This month I had the pleasure of discovering a real hidden gem of a restaurant!
I took the research for this one particularly personally as I wanted to treat my partner to a special birthday meal. I wasn't totally restricted on location, but was keen to find somewhere towards the west end of London to tie in with our earlier plans. I am a real fan of tapas/sharing style food, or a tasting menu as I find it gives you a really good opportunity to taste a variety of the key dishes from a restaurant. Looking for 'special tasting menus' I stumbled upon Flat Three in Holland Park. This is a restaurant which sells itself as 'imaginative, seasonal British food inspired by the flavours and culinary traditions of Korea and Japan'.
The brainchild of Juliana Kim Moustakas, the restaurant name comes from the address she and her chef friend first started creating their vision, and hosting some supper clubs from. They take great pride in the time taken to create the ferments which punctuate their special brand of flavour.
We found Flat Three on a small corner in Holland Park and followed the quirky 'Eat here' neon sign down to the basement not sure what to expect. Embracing the eastern feel though, was a calm, clean interior, punctuated by an open kitchen, and we were shown to one of the booths.
Having already given the menu a bit of a once over in advance, I suggested we went for the 5 course tasting option. Unusually for a menu like this, our waitress helpfully advised us that we didn't both need to eat the same dishes, in fact this menu offers at least two choices for each 'course'. So as we pondered our food options, we looked through the extensive Sake and wine list. I have to admit there were some pretty pricey wines on there, but likewise, they offered a very reasonable Romanian 2018 Calusari, Pinot Noir. With a forthcoming trip to Romania planned in spring, we were keen to see what the local red might be like and so opted for this, starting of course with some Sake from their extensive range! This warm carafe of Shusen Three Dots Junmai Ginjo, Kamoizumi hailing from Hiroshima, really set the right tone. We were also delighted to have this brought to us by none other than owner, Juliana, who explained a little about the Sake.
Just as I was considering whether we should order some of the Mochi flatbread with ponzu to accompany our dishes, we were supplied with a complimentary serving, which I have to say is something I could eat all day. In fact we ordered a further helping during our dinner....it is so addictive!
The food that followed was a true delight.
We both opted for the kabu (Japanese turnip) with the most surprisingly tasty broth of dashi. Who knew turnip could taste so good - nothing like Scots' mashed neeps!
My partner, Ian opted for the kabocha (pumpkin) with kombu mole next, whilst I indulged my love of beetroot with a dish infused with omija, and preserved blackcurrants. Again we were both blown away by the flavours given to these otherwise quite humble vegetables.
P.S. as my photos below really don't do justice to the vibrancy of these dishes, I have included some of John Scott Blackwell's images from the Flat Three website at the top and bottom of this blog post.
Next we both opted for the glazed aubergine, followed by pork belly with spring greens for Ian, and wild sea bass with mussels for me. We are both very much meat eaters, but were totally sold on how vegetable dominant our menu was - the care and attention given to the flavours and ferments applied to them by the chefs at Flat Three is very evident.
Our final visit in this wonderful culinary excursion was upon us - the sweet part. I find sometimes we can shy away from dishes when the names of the various ingredients aren't familiar to us, or seem unusual pairings. This had been the case throughout our tasting menu, but I was so glad that we had embraced these amazing new flavours, including in our final foray where I went for the black koji custard and Jerusalem artichoke whilst Ian opted for the almond cake, fermented milk and honey. Both were absolutely delicious, but the literal icing on the cake must have been the lovely 'Happy Birthday' touch which was acknowledged on Ian's almond cake.
This restaurant has something for every occasion - they run special events and also have a great 'Chef's table' for a special group event. To quote this wonderful restaurant's octagonal shape, I would definitely recommend you 'Eat here'!
Photographs below by John Scott Blackwell, courtesy of the Flat Three website:
Denise Yeats is an events director, communications consultant, endurance athlete and avid adventurer.