|Excellence Is In The Details|
Friendship tested over a surf and turf lunch at Putney’s Fish & Grill
There must be very few chefs that own five successful award winning restaurants that aren’t household names. Those that aren’t are generally found where chefs should be, in the kitchen.
Which is where the acclaimed chef Malcolm John spends his time moving between his kitchens in Chiswick (Le Vacherin Malcolm John), Croydon (Le Cassoulet , Brasserie Le Vacherin and Fish and Grill) and his latest venture Fish and Grill in Putney.
Fish & Grill, has already won the hearts and minds of the locals with a combination of passionate cooking and relaxed, affordable fine dining. We visited Fish & Grill for a mid-week lunch to be greeted by the charismatic Marco who runs front of house.
Seated comfortably in a corner ‘booth’ we agreed that the attention to detail that set Fish & Grill apart. The water poured from a silver jug, crisp white linen napkins, a beautiful fresh flower as a centre piece, the attentive yet unobtrusive service, they all add something to the experience.
After hearing the specials, my companion didn’t hesitate to go off menu and order the grilled plaice in butter sauce with capers and samphire as her main with a starter of yellow fin tuna tartar, ginger, lime and white radish. I stuck to the set menu and began with deep fried sprats with aioli followed by aged rump steak, tempura oyster, heirloom beetroot and horseradish.
Both of us were delighted with our choices.
The enjoyment of my deep fried sprats was completed with the knowledge that it didn’t matter how much mess I managed to make by eating them with my fingers I was in good and tolerant company. Although the friendship was tested when I ‘forgot’ that the parmesan like shavings on my main course of exquisitely cooked rump steak were actually horseradish and therefore the aforementioned companion who is allergic to cheese could have tried some of the dish. Instead she had to be content with stealing a few fries and insisting that I eat half the portion of broccoli (sprouting variety prepared with almonds and thyme).
All things forgiven we rounded off our meal with a coffee apiece (there was absolutely no room in our stomachs for dessert however big we tried to make our eyes). With a glass of house wine each and tap water the lunch cost £60.65 excluding service.
Born in St Vincent, Malcolm John came to England aged four and settled in Coventry with his family. After leaving catering college at the age of 18, Malcolm moved straight to London where he trained with the Savoy Group at the Berkeley Hotel Knightsbridge for six years. Malcolm temporarily moved to Italy to work at the Sirenous Hotel, Positano.
On returning to London in early 1990’s Malcolm noticed that there was a gap in the market for an informal, inexpensive French bistro but the time wasn’t right to go out on his own. Between 1995 and 1997 he worked as Executive Sous Chef at the Café Royal alongside Herbert Berger and then as Head Chef at St Quentin, Knightsbridge before moving to Terrance Conran’s Blue Bird Private Members Club, for two years in the same role.
Malcolm John opened the doors to his first Venture in French cooking; Le Vacherin in Chiswick, in 2004 and has been reaping rave reviews in reward for his efforts. Causing a stir in South Croydon, Le Cassoulet opened its doors in February 2008 as Malcolm John’s second venture with his plan to ‘bring a little of the West End to Croydon'.
Egon Ronay gave him one star; AA Gill bestowed him with a rare three star rating. Le Cassoulet was awarded Best Local Restaurant by Timeout 2008. Fish & Grill was awarded Runner up for Timeout’s Best New Local Restaurant 2009 & voted in the top 5 Best Sunday Lunch Restaurants by Timeout in 2010 along with Best out of Town Restaurant by London Paper. Malcolm was recently awarded Entrepreneur of the Year at the South London Business Awards 2010.
October 10, 2011