Meh. The beautiful decor, charming pianist, and attentive waitstaff which what the American in me wants to call "southern hospitality" couldn't make up for the fact the food was extremely disappointing.
I've just come back from a dinner at Cheneston's at the Milestone hotel and almost want to make myself a PBJ to compensate. It had everything going for it, from the doorman who opened the door and wished us a good evening, the the hilarious maitre'd who greeted us and ushered us in, to the incredible posh vibe from the sitting room to the main dining room. We opted for a tasting menu thanks to our GroupOn voucher for half off.
We started with an amuse bouche of tomato foam bursting with flavour that slammed into a wall of hard parmesan pieces (not hard like this is a good cheese but hard like we scraped this off the wall after exploding the rind with a WMD) and a bed of peanuts. Okay...peanuts threw me and the flavour didn't jive but I'm all about the experimentation.
Next up was a smoked salmon on sauteed fennel (at least I think that's what he said...it was a non-descript onion type veggie). The salmon was quite tasty albeit overally salted. Oh and there was a peanut crust. Strange.
We move on to braised pig cheeks with a diced apple jus and a "neeps and tatties" side (this was the description given by the waiter). The pig cheeks in contrast to the salmon was underseasoned but a liberal does of salt and pepper sorted that out. The accompanying sauce suited the tender meat so I will give props for that. The neeps and taters scoop was a bit random but I love potatoes so can't complain. Was a bit weirded out by the description which I associated with low-brow comfort food not haute cuisine. And less I forget the pig cheeks were served on a bed of crushed peanuts (seeing a pattern here?)
Some small pieces of chicken was the next item to grace our plates and I must say I was thoroughly underwhelmed by this dish. The chicken was dry and the best part was the poached prune. The sauteed peanuts actually worked with this dish.
Our first dessert (or rather a pre-dessert) was a pea and white chocolate ice cream with a hint of mint. Refreshing? Yes. Cleansed the palette? Yes. Had any flavour? No can't say it did although you did get a slight bit of pea-ness at the end. Hell I was just happy there wasn't any peanuts in this one!
The final dessert was a rhubarb and cream slice with crystallised rhubarb and (you won't believe this) sugar coated peanuts. I've got to give the chef credit for the sheer variety of ways peanuts were incorporated as a key ingredient in almost all the dishes. Must have had them coming out of their ears back in the kitchen.
Other things that were important. The wine list is extensive and there is an associated pairing menu for another 50 squids (full price is around 80-100 quid for the tasting menu). We opted for a bottle of Gewurztraminer from Alsace for 46 quid that was delicious and worked with almost all our dishes. The dress code is smart casual but you could walk in in anything and I'm confident the staff would make you feel at home. I would suggest getting there early and having the glass of champagne included in the tasting menu in the sitting room to enjoy the excellent music provided by the live pianist.
Overall, excluding the food this would have hit 4/5 stars. But given the focus was on the meal for us, I can't say it was worth more than 2 with the other star being because I appreciated the staff and decor.
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