New Chelsea restaurant The Hunter’s Moon is perfecting the fine art of contrast
We discover a sublime mix of old and new in this fine dining pub in South Kensington
Achieving the perfect contrast can be a difficult game to play. Lean too far to one extreme and all sense of balance is lost, but get stuck in the middle and you’ll be bland enough to be forgotten. It’s a fine balance to strike, but one The Hunter’s Moon in South Kensington seems to accomplish with consummate ease.
When I visited the Chelsea restaurant it was to find an array of dishes that were new and daring, but somehow also reassuringly familiar and comforting. The décor is bold and trendy, yet homely and relaxing; formal enough to feel like a night out but laidback enough that diners can bring their dogs or young children along. A restaurant that somehow combines the warmth of a favourite countryside pub with the elegance of a fancy London restaurant.
Entering the relaxed and welcoming pub-style entrance, complete with oak panels and comfy armchairs, I was soon led through to the smarter dining room area, beautifully styled with vintage tile floorings and pendant lighting. The pub seats 25 and the dining room 48, and both were nearly full on the Friday evening we visited. The layout and design work very well: the jovial atmosphere of the pub naturally spills over into the dining room, giving the restaurant a vibrant atmosphere.
This is helped by the staff, who are enthusiastic, friendly, knowledgeable and eager to make your visit enjoyable. Some of this may be due to the fact the restaurant had been open for less than a month at the time of our visit, but I have a sense there is a professionalism and work ethic instilled into the ethos that will stand the test of time. The restaurant is co-led by Hubert Beatson-Hird and Oliver Marlowe (a Chef Director responsible for the menu). The pair has big plans for the future, hoping to open a further two sites in the next few years.
No matter how good the setting, a restaurant will always stand or fall on the quality of its dishes – thankfully it was here that we were most impressed. The meals (which change daily) are bold and imaginative, boasting plenty of flavour and colour and taste and imagination. The starter of scallop ceviche with whipped avocado, pickled ginger and ponzu dressing is one that particularly catches the eye, bringing together a medley of flavours which combine together delightfully. The main courses were generously portioned and delightfully prepared. >>
The braised featherblade of beef with carrot puree, kale, triple cooked truffle and parmesan chips had been slow cooked for more than eight hours, and the meat was so tender it practically melted in the mouth. Likewise the roast pork loin and glazed cheek with creamed potato, caramelised apple and mustard. The presentation of the dishes was professional but not overly flashy or pretentious, which suited me just fine.
Any further dishes from this point on would have been strictly for indulgence rather than necessity, but the dessert menu proved impossible to ignore. The puddings are sweet, rich and ever so satisfying. The apple and pear baked Alaska with almond crumble and caramel may have sounded fruit-filled and healthy but it tasted a whole lot richer than that. Perhaps more unashamedly decadent, the hot chocolate mousse with nougatine and milk ice cream is an extravagance on the senses and one that any true chocolate lover will be unable to resist. The icing on the cake, if you’ll excuse the pun, was the extra touch of flair with which the desserts were presented with, much to the delight of my wife and her innate love for all things Great British Bake Off.
The Hunters Moon London website refers to itself as “effortlessly blending old with new.” It’s a contrast which nicely summarises all of the previous contrasts mentioned, and a very apt description for a fine restaurant. Long may it be true.