Carousel is a completely unique concept in London… a stylish dining room in Marylebone that provides a temporary home for exciting visiting chefs from all over the world.
A few weeks ago I attended a special supperclub by Singaporean restaurant Cheek by Jowl, a small eatery run by husband and wife team, Rishi Naleendra and Manuela Toniolo. We were treated to a tasting menu by the restaurant’s chef, Sri Lankan born Rishi, who’s culinary creations are a unique mix of seasonal ingredients, international influences and modern techniques. After just 18 months Cheek by Jowl was awarded a Michelin star, and their reputation continues to grow. Carousel was the perfect platform for them to showcase their food to the discerning London foodies.
After a drink on the terrace we all sat down at the communal wooden tables, ravenous and excited about the meal ahead. The evening’s menu was full of my favourite ingredients, plus a few surprise elements:
Oyster, Smoked Tomato
Smoked Mackerel, Green Pea, Cucumber, Burnt Lemon
Old Dairy Cow, Puffed Grain, Fermented Chilli, Smoked Maple
Courgette Flower, Sri Lankan Mung Beans, Quinoa, Sunflower Seed
Lamb Saddle, Caramelised Yoghurt, Black Bean, Maitake Mushroom
Strawberry, Black Olive, Rhubarb
The initial snacks were refreshing and inventive, creamy oysters with a contrasting spicy tomato granita and a beautiful fillet of smoked mackerel with sweet pea emulsion and a dusting of dramatic burnt lemon powder.
Next, Rishi used dairy cow meat as a tartare, an unusual use for this breed of cow. Despite it’s breed the meat was lean and velvety, matched beautifully with chilli and maple, and with a textural crunch from the puffed grain. Vinegary chicory leaves provided the ideal vessel for transporting the meat from plate to mouth!
My favourite course came next, a delicate courgette flower stuffed with spiced mung bean filling. It was an addictively tasty vegetarian dish and a wonderful use of this subtle summer ingredient.
I personally either love or hate lamb, it is a meat that is difficult to cook perfectly, but the Cheek by Jowl team excelled. The meat was smooth and flavoursome with a caramelised edge, complimented by a yoghurt sauce and woody rustic mushrooms. Silence fell over the entire table as we all inhaled the food, pausing only to gulp the immaculately paired red wine.
It was getting late by the time dessert arrived at the table, I was feeling full but content, with just enough space for a sweet treat. A startling black dish arrived, a shiny black olive jelly sheet concealed strawberry ice-cream and olive pannacotta. The flavours were quite savoury with a much needed sweetness from the strawberry. It was intriguing and alluring, although I’m not sure I would want to eat it again!
Our experience at Carousel was wonderful, not only do I want to book a return visit to this brilliant hosting venue, I also want to book flights to Singapore to try the Cheek by Jowl food in its natural habitat!
More information on the future guest chefs at Carousel here.