Whyte and Brown dares a new concept. A single theme, declined in 21 recipes. Chicken. Free range, a must for these food passionates. And yes, not only does this work fabulously, it is absolutely scrumptious as Roald Dahl would say! The decoration alone is worth a detour and reminds me of Anthropology. Make sure you have a look at the first floor – beautiful space, gorgeous curved chairs, some half painted in a design effect, the back wall coming alive with feathers of paint, even brioche tins light up!
It was a Friday, sure, but at only 17.00, the place was already pretty busy, obviously word of mouth worked pretty well for this address. To give us time to read the mouthwatering menu and celebrate the week-end, we ordered two cocktails. The Whyte wine spritz is a clever mix of white wine, rhubarb bitters with rose lemonade. Unusual, mmmh? That is such a better Friday drink than a Pimm’s, sparkling and zesty and floral all at the same time. Now, being a Nika fan, I could not help but order the Hefty Japanese Max, matching this gorgeous Japanese whisky to a plum sake. Beautiful contrast of the ice, the warmth of the whisky, the quiet strength of the sake, vanilla an tobacco notes finishing on juicy plum.
Service was incredibly quick. Just the time to take a few pictures of the deco and our starters had arrived. Around us, the team butterflies, smiling and checking the guests are enjoying their meals – rarely had I seen such an efficient care of customers. We treated ourselves to those delicious arancinis made with chicken and oh, those are extraordinary, Lots of melting cheese, a touch of bechamel and fresh coriander. The dip sauce is superfluous, really. For the French touch, there is a poulet confit, so tender, pepper berries, fresh herbs, thin crisp lemon slices to give it a lick-your-lips bonus, all presented in a jar. So very cute and so very comforting, the perfect picnic food. It would be superb in a salad but here it is upgraded to toasted sourdough bread with coriander, pickled onions and a dash of fruity olive oil.
A look at the picture gallery on the web site left me no choice. It had to be the chicken and langoustine pie. Many customers, like me, order it just to take a picture – the sight is so cute. Under the butter puff pastry cover, a succulent casserole of chicken and langoustine tender bites in a light bechamel addictive, caramelised onions, fennel, celery and the out-of-the-ordinary samphire which gives this tangy twist to the dish. A must-try. If you fancy something more classical, the leek-chicken burger is quite impressive too but make sure you are really hungry, look at the size of it! But be warned, beef patties will taste much blander in the future, this is very elegant in taste, much more satisfying too. We matched these with a glass of Vina Cascarela Ruedo (lemony, pear, passionfruit, exotic) or – my favourite – of Govone Gavi di Gavi which offers the honeysuckle touch of the Piedmont wines.
There was no hesitation for dessert. Whyte and Brown’s Eton Mess is the best ever. Generous in fruit, rich bit not sickening cream infused with orange, fresh mint, melt-in-the-mouth meringue. But really, this is a treat you hear before you taste it: it is sprinkled with popping candy, like a little firework on your tastebuds. And that is not to be missed.
Verdict? If you thought fast food at the word chicken, think again. Service is absolutely perfect and the chef has preferred time, simmering for his recipes to give them maximum taste and textures. The best of comfort food with innovative touches. Bravo
Whyte & Brown
London, W1B 5PW.