We headed down to Marylebone to sample the latest offering from the team behind Pied à Terre and L’Autre Pied at new pop-up restaurant Pieds Nus. This worthy off-shoot, which is all about 'naked' cooking, runs until March 11, 2014.
The words ‘Michelin star’ invoke white linen table clothes, pencil-mustachioed waiters and, well, maybe a little stiffness too. No such thing at Pied Nus despite the Michelin star umbrella under which it sits. David Moore who owns Michelin star restaurants Pied a Terre and L’autre Pied has set up this quirky little pop-up with chef Ed Dutton at the helm.
The rustic and intimate interior will immediately relax anyone looking for five-star dining without the pomp and circumstance five-star dining often brings with it. Instead there’s beaten up school chairs, exposed wood and peeling paint. Much like the raw interior, it’s immediately noticeable that Pied Nus (translation: bare foot) is all about barely-there cooking.
As we awaited the first course we drank a cool glass of Cordillera Brut Pinot Noir and tucked into the bacon and onion brioche, houmous and rosemary grissini. One of the first dishes we sampled was an interesting slow cooked duck egg with potato and belper knolle (a swiss cheese). Once we split the egg and rolled the gooey yoke in the potato and cheese the result was thick and deliciously light, despite the cheese and carb combination. We then delved easily into a fresh pickled herring, turnip and frisse salad that was satisfyingly tangy. Equally clean and light were the pickled, raw and charred vegetables with celeriac oil.
What really stole the show were the fish and meat dishes that are slow-cooked sous vide (under a vacuum to you and I) which ensures supreme succulence. The scallop cerviche with fennel and cucumber was noteworthy, with each flavour being entirely distinguishable from the next. The yellow fin tuna was delicate and perfectly simplified; rolled in black pepper and served with black olive. However the 42-degree confit salmon was our winner. Handsomely presented with an inviting glaze and a white bean accompaniment which grounded the fish.
The meat courses were equally expert. The veal carpaccio was luscious and for somebody who would never order veal from a menu it had me wondering what I’ve been missing out on. Our favourite dish of the night was the recently added quail, quail eggs and hazelnuts that we were still talking about all of yesterday. The textures were phenomenal and the quail was perfectly salty. Ed informed us it had late been added in an experimental burst of energy, but we think it should be a permanent fixture.
We also managed to sample the cheese board; the brie was sensational, as was the sweet wine that a very informative and welcoming waiter insisted we try as an accompaniment. Then there were the three deserts. Our recommendation would be the dismantled New York cheesecake with enough of a kick, the creamiest of innards and a crunchy base to see us finishing the whole thing.We think the shot of sake may have finished us off in the end.
The joy of Pied Nus is in its simplicity. The food is barely tampered with. The simple notion of sharing makes the dining experience social and engaging and ideal for a romantic date, or dinner with family and friends looking to try something new. Really, though, the naked,and simple style of cooking belies the complex flavours and combinations that are cleverly pitched as casual and instinctive. There’s no doubt that Ed has labored intensely over the compilation of each offering. The branch closes in two weeks’ time. Ed and all of the staff’s hard work at Pied Nus has paid off – it’s just a shame it’s a pop-up.