London: Hibiscus


Hibiscus is run by chef-patron Claude Bosi and his wife Claire. Lyon-born, Michelin-starred chef Claude started his training at the famous brasserie Léon de Lyon before going to work for a number of famous French chefs including Michel Rostang, Alain Passard and Alain Ducasse.  In 1997, he moved to the UK and in 2000, Claude and Claire Bosi opened their own restaurant Hibiscus in the sleepy yet culinary well-endowed town of Ludlow in Shropshire. The restaurant was met with immediate acclaim, gaining its first Michelin star in 2001, and a second one followed in 2004. In 2007, the restaurant re-located to the affluent streets of London’s Mayfair, where it has now regained its brace of 2 Michelin stars.
The cuisine at Hibiscus marries tradition with invention perfectly. Chef Claude Bosi’s energy and ingenuity in experimenting with intense flavor combinations can be seen through his creation of exiting dishes that present an excellent balance between bold and subtlety. I admire his bold usage of oriental flavors to balance French flavours, and bringing harmony and synthesis to the plate despite having both East and West flavours.
Hibiscus is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday till Saturday. The restaurant offers a seasonal tasting menu for dinner (3 courses 87.50, 6 courses £95, 8 courses £105) and there is a 3 course lunch menu for £34.95. We opted for the 6 course tasting menu.
20140316-013833.jpg We started off with some nibbles before the main event commenced. What took me most by surprised was the unassuming Candied cashew and peanuts with vinegar and sea salt. Firstly, they were roasted to perfection and that crunchy texture is quite enough to make it so addictive. But Chef Bosi definitely would not stop just there, he added sugar, vinegar and salt, so what you get is a perfect balance between sweet and savory, and all livened up with a little bit of zing from the vinegar. I guarantee you it’s the perfect snack for any type of taste bud. So casual on the outside, yet so refined in the inside.
20140316-013814.jpg Choux pastry with cheddar cheese and onion. Of courses, these gougères are always so light and addictive as well. Pop the whole thing in your mouth, and you will be greeted with a nice burst of cheesy goodness.
20140316-013638.jpg The Chicory and date tartlet, and the Sweet potato and yuzu crisp were equally delicious as well. Extremely thin pastry and crispy was accompanied by creamy fillings that were just refreshing to the palate.
20140316-013824.jpg Brown and white sourdough served with lightly salted Shropshire butter. 
Miso ice cream with yuzu and sesame. While this may sound a little odd on paper, the flavor combinations actually worked out for me. The slight savoury and umami flavor of the miso was balanced out by the brightness of the yuzu, such that the miso flavor does not hit your palate too strongly, but subtlety enough that you are able to distinguish what you are having. The sesame seeds provided the must needed textural contrast.
20140316-013745.jpg Mushroom royale, coconut foam and curry powder was presented in a fragile egg shell and placed in a Hibiscus egg carton. How cute! I was quite surprised how neither the coconut nor the curry flavor overpowered one another. The touch of curry powder was a clever move to provide just a touch of spice and some body to the dish.
Veloute of leek and potato, with parmesan cheese and black truffle. The soup was silky and smooth, similar to the one I had at Berners Tavern. Again, neither the parmesan cream at the bottom nor the black truffle overpowered one another. The parmesan crisps was a nice crunchy element for the entire dish.
I wasn’t too particularly impressed by the Crab salad with Tokyo turnip leaf and syrup, olive oil cream honestly, given the fact that we have had such mind blowing amazing dishes. Well I do appreciate something light and refreshing in the middle of all these strong and heavy flavours.
20140316-013541.jpg The Mackerel tartare and cucumber, compressed rhubarb juices and hibiscus flower was presented in such a beautiful cylindrical shape. The mackerel had such a vibrant colour to it and the hibiscus flower popping out of the cylinder made the entire dish feel so alive. The slight fishy and oily taste of the mackerel was offset by the sweet and refreshing cucumber and tart rhubarb juices, and every bite was just a joy.
Turbot with Jerusalem artichoke puree and caramelized artichoke. The fish was cooked perfectly; it had a firm exterior, but an interior that was still so slightly rare. The caramelized artichoke helped lightened the dish with its sweetness.
Duck with smoked eel and potato. Again, the execution is indeed commendable here with the perfectly medium rare duck. But there isn’t much for me to comment here. Its perfectly cooked, it’s delicious, but nothing too memorable.
20140316-013613.jpg Apples and celeriac jelly, chestnut foam. I loved how both the sweet chestnuts and apples were balanced out by the rather bland celeriac. The chestnut “foam” should really be called mousse instead as it was more towards the creamy side, rather than being light and airy.
Chocolate tart with Indonesian basil ice cream and star anise chili. I have to particularly commend this dish. Firstly, I was expecting this chocolate tart to be just filled with a regular chocolate ganache or a filling of some sort; but I was definitely not expecting it to contain a molten chocolate lava! Just look at all that decadent, rich and gooey Valrhona chocolate flow out of that amazingly thin and crispy tart! Secondly, here is where I would have to commend on Chef Bosi’s brave use of basil. I was afraid that the strong flavours of basil would not go along with the richness of dark chocolate, but I was actually mistaken. The savoury notes of the basil actually helped brought out the sweetness of the chocolate, and so did the slightly spicy star anise chili. The texture of the ice cream was extremely smooth and fine as well.
 Now on to the petite fours.
Rhubarb Yorkshire with vanilla sugar. This, I thought was quite interesting, although I was not a big fan of it. The rhubarb itself was slightly too bland for my liking. It was a touch sour though, and when dipped into the sugar, it was supposed to give the perfect balance between sweet and sour. But I find coating my entire mouth with sugar, just to salvage a bland piece of rhubard, was not exactly too pleasing for my taste buds…
20140316-013520.jpg And last but not least, we ended the meal with warm and delicious Madelines: Orange, Pistachio, Raisin.
Service at Hibiscus was excellent. The waiters were knowledgeable, yet not too obtrusive, polite, yet not too uptight or strict. I also loved how despite it being a fine dining 2 Michelin-starred restaurant, the atmosphere was pretty casual and you could hear loud chattering and laughter from guests all around you. Yet, the décor, with its large chandeliers, grey upholstered chairs, light wooden paneling and dim lightings, still reminds you that you are in one of the finest restaurants in London. Indeed it is, and I definitely recommend that you put down your name way in advance unless you are fine with dining at 1030pm.
29 Maddox Street
London W1S 2PA
Tel: 020 7629 2999
This entry was posted in Dessert, Dinner, French, London, Travel to eat! :) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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