Hibiscus was recommended to me by an Australian food critic from a big publication who I randomly had lunch with last year. I had never heard of this place but given this critic’s experience I decided to at least have a look at the website. The menu looked pleasing so I booked in and was very happy with my experience.
Being the first restaurant I tried in London I didn’t have any expectations about the food or the service there but it set a really good standard for the others to follow.
I dined at Hibiscus on a Saturday for an early lunch and the restaurant became suitably busy as the afternoon carried on with couples and groups of friends and family around me. The staff were good to not make me feel like a loner and provided appropriate conversation about the food and their knowledge of Australia which was quite cute.
There was a set menu available for Saturday lunch which was only £45 for 3 courses or £53.50 for 3 courses, a glass of wine, coffee/tea and petit fours – amazing value!
After a starter of salt and vinegar pork scratchings and an amuse bouche of hibiscus and pineapple mocktail, I had my entrée of guinea fowl and foie gras ravioli with soya bean, lemon and tarragon. The ravioli was dense, rich and comforting while the soya beans and lemon made it into a Summery dish which was perfectly suited to the warm day outside.
The crispy plantation pork belly cooked in hay, peas a la Francaise, smoked bacon and pink grapefruit main looked like it might defeat me after a surprisingly heavy entrée but it fell apart at the touch of my fork and was not as fatty as most pork bellies I’ve tried in the past. It also wasn’t the tastiest pork belly I’ve ever had (I think that honour goes to Etch) but it was certainly easy to eat.
The dessert was the best course and I know it may not look as impressive as some of the others I’ve posted but in terms of flavour it was the best dessert of my whole trip. Yep. Better than 8 plates worth of sweet stuff at Pierre Gagnaire, better than the flying pig pannacotta at Le Meurice. I really took my time eating this last course because I didn’t want it to end and it was just so perfectly balanced I was enjoying getting lost in all the flavours. Olive oil parfait with olive oil mayonnaise, Charlotte strawberry and basil, I could eat you every day.
Now you may be cringing thinking about an olive oil dessert but it’s not like you’re drinking straight oil. I know a lot of chefs love to complete their dishes with a drizzle of olive oil (especially Matt Moran) and the parfait gave you just that little bit of an aftertaste so that it really was like nothing you’d ever taste before. The strong part of the dish was actually the strawberries and basil, so overall it was just clean flavours hitting your palate and cleansing my mouth of any residual pork belly fat and, in turn, cleansing my guilty conscience for consuming so many calories!
The meal didn’t stop there and with my pot of tea a generous portion of petit fours was served. Madeleines, fresh out of the oven and flavoured with cardamon, were served alongside a jar of beautiful chocolates which were themselves unusually flavoured. White chocolate and lemon, milk chocolate and thyme and a luxe 70% cocoa dark chocolate.
I left Hibiscus feeling very full and content and extremely happy with my meal and the service. While it has slipped significantly on the list of the best restaurants in the world it is very deserving of a recommendation and I would go back without hesitation, particularly for the very well priced Saturday lunch menu.
My only negative comment would be that it was not the easiest place to find. I had a map downloaded to my phone so I managed to find it with only a small amount of difficulty but had I not had that I would have been forced to jump in a cab. This, however, is not their fault at all but I thought it was worth mentioning so you can prepare yourself before you go!
While I think of it, if you’re going to London be sure to download the Michelin London Voyage app. It’s about $7 but will provide you with heaps of maps, directions, reviews and pictures of restaurants, bars, hotels and tourist attractions and will give you the closest tube station so you should have no problem finding anything. It saved me so much money in the long run because I wasn’t taking taxis everywhere all the time. You also don’t need to connect to the internet to utilise its functions which is great because I only had occasional access.
Hibiscus29 Maddox Street London www.hibiscusrestaurant.co.uk
Lunch and Dinner: Monday – Saturday