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Spring at Somerset House in London

Rating: 90.
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Spring is chef Skye Gyngell's highly-anticipated new restaurant and first solo-venture, which opened its doors in November 2014. The restaurant is located in Somerset House, an art and cultural centre situated at the south end of the Strand. Skye Gyngell (b. 1963) started her career in Sidney, moving to Europe to work alongside Anne Willan at the iconic French cookery school La Varenne in Paris, and later on in London at The French House pub in Soho, at the Dorchester with Anton Mosimann, and as a private chef cooking for A-list clients such Madonna, Mario Testino and Charles Saatchi. In 2004 Skye Gyngell was appointed head chef at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, London, a restaurant that was awarded a Michelin star in 2011. Gyngell experienced the Michelin star as "a curse" and she left the restaurant in 2012.

Spring is open daily for lunch and for dinner Monday through Saturday and for lunch on Sundays. The restaurant offers an a la carte menu (starters £13 - £16, mains £16 - £36, desserts £7 - £12) and at lunch there is a set lunch menu (2 courses £25.50, 3 courses £29.50). I had lunch with my husband at Spring on Sunday 15 February 2015. We both ordered two courses from the a la carte menu and we shared one course from the set lunch menu and a dessert.

To start there was homemade Malfatti pasta, coated with a delicious slow-cooked Dattarini tomato sauce and sprinkled with freshly grated ricotta salata. "Malfatti" pasta denotes "badly made" or "irregularly shaped" pasta. The tomatoes are cooked with olive oil, garlic and verjus, and the sauce is finished with a touch of butter and some freshly ground black pepper, resulting in a mildly buttery sauce with a wonderful creamy texture. An elegant and well-seasoned dish, the ricotta salata adding a nice tangy edge.

Next up was a dish from the set lunch menu to share. Grilled, spicy chorizo was simply served with tender white Spanish beans, clams, creamy clam cooking juices and some grilled bread with tomato aioli. A delightfully hearty dish that was full of flavour, the hint of lemon in the clam sauce giving the dish a nice light finish.

Splendidly tender and succulent slow-cooked pork shoulder followed. The pork was served with its delicious cooking juices, seasoned with a drizzle of
olive oil, creamy Borlotti beans, cime di rapa (turnip tops) and some pungent, I  believe, salsa verde. A well-cooked dish with complementing flavours, the salse verde balancing the richness nicely.

Winner of the day was a gorgeous panna cotta, covered with a layer of blood orange jelly, and served with a few slices of dark-red fresh blood orange. and a drizzle of rosemary syrup. Perfectly wobbly and creamy panna cotta with a lovely hint of lemon and I loved the subtle notes of rosemary. Great balance between sweetness, tartness and creaminess.

Skye Gyngell is well-known for being a passionate champion of seasonal produce and the menu at Spring is a clear reflection of that approach. Freshness and quality are key at this restaurant. Attractive, sunshine-laced dishes, packed with big, vibrant flavours, are served in a beautifully bright and spacious room. Both the food and the room deliver simplicity and sophistication in equal measure. If you want great (Mediterranean) ingredients, skillfully cooked and served in an elegant and basic way, then you won't be disappointed at Spring.

Posted 14-03-2015


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