Time for something a little bit different over on this ol’ blog! La Belle Asiette are a private dining company, they host a community of 350+ chefs on their website who you can hire to come and cook for your dinner party, in your own home! Now, you would never describe Stu and I as ‘private chef dinner party kinda people’ but we were really surprised how accessible this experience is – Having just moved into a new place, this was the perfect housewarming idea for us and our 3 close friends. New to La Belle Asiette network, we had local mega-chef Adam Blanchard cook a four course autumn menu for us. The pricing is really easy, it can cost you £39, £59 or £89 per head depending on the prestige of menu you choose. Let me start by saying we had the cheapest tier at £39 per head and it was up there with Michelin star quality! For a special occasion you can easily spend £39 per person in a restaurant, without the added bonus of supplying your own drinks at whatever cost you like, being in the comfort of your own home and having a chef cook, entertain AND clean up. Awesome.
Adam arrived and promptly took over our kitchen producing some INSANE smells while we had beers and talked on the balcony in the sunshine. I got a bit over excited and set a Pinterest-worthy table befitting of the occasion, and before we knew it our amuse bouche of tomato consommé was ready.
For an autumn menu, this light and refreshing pre-starter was almost summery, but the dehydration of the tomato added that sweetness and depth that you get from the sun blushed variety, adding much more earthiness and intensity. We’ve never tasted tomatoes so intense and it was a simple yet tasty and interesting way to kick off the 4 course menu.
Next, our stater of salmon gravlax with pickled vegetables and coffee dressing. Yep, you don’t need to re-read that, salmon and coffee. Having chosen and discussed the menu with Adam, it was the most ‘out there’ flavour combination we had to look forward to and we can safely say we’ve never had coffee and fish before. The beautifully fresh cured salmon and crème fraîche with a hint of coffee was honestly inspired. It was the most surprisingly fantastic combination of flavours, complementing each other perfectly – you gotta try it. along with the spherified lemon ‘caviar’, the pickled beetroots, cucumber and radish added freshness and acidity to cut through the cream and lift the delicate salmon. This dish was perfection and we would be pushed to find something so interesting and delicious in a Michelin star restaurant. It’s important to note that Adam introduced every dish with information about the flavours, origin of ingredients and cooking, answering all of our (plentiful and stupid) questions along the way. It was a real learning experience and focussed attention from a chef that you just don’t get in a restaurant.
On to the main and something you might recognise as more autumnal: butter poached chicken with celeriac, kale, bacon, celeriac and truffle puree and chicken jus. The chicken breast was poached with butter in a sous vide machine (water bath) and let me tell you, it was the moistest chicken breast ever! With a delicate buttery taste, it just melted in your mouth and contrasted with salt, crispy bacon. Celeriac can be an acquired taste, with an earthy, potato-like texture and hint of celery taste. We had it two ways, roasted in wedges and in a puree with truffle. Does anything scream luxury like truffle?! it’s a strong flavour that can easily overpower but Adam used it skilfully in the puree, just adding that wonderful, heady flavour to elevate the whole dish. the roasted celeriac was soft with a crispy skin and the jus made this dish sing. Adam overheard us all shouting “OMG DAT GRAVY” in a very uncivilised manner so bought the whole jug to the table for us to add as much as we like and, in a very undignified way, wipe clean with our fingers! This was another massive hit, we loved this delicious chicken dish with its rich and deep autumnal flavours that made you mumble “oommmmmmmgthatsgood” with every mouthful.
After a deserved break for our little bellies, it was pudding time: apple crumble with calvados ice cream. Another hug on a plate, it’s the kind of comfort food you dream of, elevated to a level you could never dream of. Beautiful, sticky stewed apple sat under a nutty golden crumb, with silky set custard domes, apple puree and a quenelle of calvados ice cream on the side – doesn’t that make us sound posh?! The addition of salt in the crumble was genius, it stopped the whole thing being overly sweet and rounded out the delicious stickiness of the apples. The only thing that let down this beautifully balanced dish was the ice cream, it was a little over set in our over-enthusiastic freezer and it could have gotten away with more punch from the calvados. all in all though, a delicious and generous dessert to finish off a menu that was thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.
The stand-out dishes for us were the starter and main course, but we loved every minute. What really topped it off was the private dining experience. It was worth every penny at £39 per head and we were thrilled to offer Adam a glass of wine with us after he slaved away in our kitchen! I never would have thought private cheffing was for our world, but it really was something amazing for a special occasion and doesn’t break the bank when you compare it to a special occasion restaurant – what’s more, you can discuss all your dietary requirements, likes and dislikes, choose your own dishes, menu, chef and serve any drinks you like – we did BYOB! This was a truly unforgettable experience with La Belle Asiette and Adam Blanchard. Thanks so much!
Emily & Stu