2017 marked the end of a great first year for Treves & Hyde, as we welcomed the people of London into our restaurant for our first year of service. Jay Rayner, a food connoisseur for The Guardian, jumped into Treves & Hyde to try some Head Chef George Tannock’s dishes, with him detailing his thoughts below.
The last dish to land on my table in 2017 is a ray of sunshine as drawn for a children’s book: a triangle of wobbling lemon tart the colour of daffodils or beaches or buttercups. The filling has been infused with basil, and punched up with lime, then sprinkled with sugar and given a glancing burst from a blowtorch. The pastry is crisp top and bottom. Alongside, is a scoop of ricotta and sour cherry ice cream. It is a bunch of simple things done exceedingly well, which describes the whole of my lunch at Treves and Hyde in the City.
It is a fitting end to a year which boasted more reasons to be cheerful at the table than not. Fewer than a fifth of my reviews in 2017 were unrelentingly negative, though it is a mark of just how horrible you all are that one of those managed to get almost as many page views – more than 2m – as half the others put together. I didn’t go to Le Cinq in Paris to be controversial. I went for dinner, and to spend a slab of my own money and to write a column about the stupid glories that wealth can buy. It didn’t work out like that.
Treves and Hyde, with which I am finishing this year, occupies a new building that probably breezed through the planning process. It’s a hard-edged lump of modern London. Still, if you go at lunch, you might get a good view of the demolition across the road. Pay attention instead to chef George Tannock’s deceptively simple food: to warm, airy cheese puffs, covered with grated chestnut as if it were a savoury Mont Blanc. They melt away to nothing on the tongue. Pay attention to a piece of smoked and glazed pork belly with subtle striations of fat, and soft, pliable meat that tastes like the very best bacon; and to slices of seared salmon with sesame, avocado purée and a balanced hit of acidity.
His food is all about the killer detail. Duck confit is soft and crisp-skinned. A duvet of mash is pure comfort. And here, across the top, are fried breadcrumbs to give crunch. Slices of bavette, that grown-up steak for people with all their own teeth, come with suety bacon “pudding” and curls of pumpkin purée. But it’s made by their own sweet-sour barbecue sauce. We coo over buttered carrots with goat’s curd; over a Little Gem salad with spirals of fennel. A chocolate delice, with segments of orange and an impeccable pistachio ice cream, plays support to that glorious lemon tart.
Pricing is keen for cooking of this quality. Apparently it’s the start of a group across the country which makes a slightly depressing kind of sense. Nothing depressing about this kind of food being mirrored elsewhere. It’s just that the economics of 2017 make the stand-alone restaurant less viable than ever before. To survive you apparently have to go big. You have to build in economies of scale.
And 2018? Where to start? The deformed, twisted aggression of Brexit has put ingredient costs up by 20% and discouraged vital European staff from staying, let alone coming. Property prices are dysfunctional, and business rates have been violently re-assessed. And, going from the comment section on my reviews, too many people in this country still resent paying a fair whack because they think they could make it at home for a fiver. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that, despite all this, Britain’s brilliant restaurants manage to endure in 2018. Because, if you can afford it, a good meal cooked by someone else just makes life better. Happy New Year.