L’Autre Pied, London

l'Autre Pied 2 l'Autre Pied

Ten years ago, 5 Blandford Street was Stephen Bull Restaurant, apparently where today’s ‘Modern British’ cooking was first invented. Five years ago, Stevie B had gone and, brilliantly baptised, Blandford Street, specialising in ‘Modern British’ and ‘European’ eating, stood there in its stead. One year ago (one year minus two days if for you are a pendant – the pot calling the kettle black, perhaps? jamais) it was l’Autre Pied and, now fully-evolved, ‘Modern European’ cuisine’s turn mettre sur pied at this auspicious address.

Young Englishman, Marcus Eaves, is the Head Chef and triumvir-titleholder – together with double Michelin dream team, Shane Osborn and David Moore – of this tributary (in every sense) to Pied à Terre. Until moving to l’Autre, Marcus had spent two years as Osborn’s sous chef at big brother, grand Pied and before that, had been sous chef at Claude Bosi’s then-Ludlow-based Hibiscus (2*). Born in Leamington Spa, but raised in neighbouring Warwick, he started his career at nearby Simpsons (1*), Kenilworth (now Birmingham); then moving to Lettonie (2*), Bath; prior to a year with John Burton Race at the Landmark Hotel (2*). Accolades that include Midlands Young Chef of the Year and Gordon Ramsay Scholar (both 2004), underlined by this exceptional education, elucidate epithets like ‘the Lewis Hamilton’ of England’s chefs. The Pied à Terre team clearly believe the hype, this is their first foray from home in sixteen years, so they must have great confidence and great expectations for their 27-year-old protégé.
The principle behind this Pied is to bring haute cuisine to the high-street and Michelin to the masses. Sophisticated food – expect purées aplenty, many mousses and gelées galore – is prepared with less refined, but by no means lower quality, ingredients in a no-frills, informal environment. Tables may not be covered with linen, amuses may not arrive, petit fours may have to be purchased, but standards, and aspirations, remain high: ‘Marcus will definitely be a Michelin candidate,’ according to Moore.

The investment has already started paying dividends. Applying his own natural creativity and early values learnt long ago growing up in the Midlands countryside – his father, a chef at a country hotel, inspired Eaves’ cooking and helped impart on him the importance of seasonality and quality of local produce – to techniques and skills studied and sharpened under some of the Capital’s most gifted chefs, he has already won both Timeout London and BMW Square Meal’s Best New Restaurant awards – beating alma mater, Hibiscus, to the latter.

l'Autre Pied 3 l'Autre Pied 4

L‘Autre is found in fashionable and foodie Marylebone. Behind a minimal, slate grey, open exterior is an interior inherited from the previous incumbent, which, in brave cost-saving strategy, has been basically continued with. Unfortunately, the bleak bequest left by Blandford Street within is a complete contrast: a clumsily shapen, cloistered space, made up with an Art Nouveau motivated motif, manifesting itself mostly through a hand-painted, chinoiserie artwork of flowers, fruits and spices; early twentieth-century iron grillwork; and not least, the flowing lines, quick curves and modern typeface, symbolic of this ‘whiplash’ aesthetic. Moore’s wish was ‘to capture the quality and simplicity of the restaurant’ which presents ‘a more relaxed, less formal experience.’ However, supposedly intimate recesses, nooks, niches and crannies thwart the sought-after unfussiness of immaculately white walls, clean lines, nude tabletops and hard, black-wooden chairs. The hand-painted foliage frescos figure on olive walls and large, fluorescent jade green glass screens that project into the restaurant’s centre. The colour scheme is further cluttered by dull ebony-wood floorboards; streaky zebrano wood tables; and cochineal leather banquettes complete with assorted silky little cushions. Floor-to-ceiling and panoramic, hung mirrors make the area appear a little larger than it is, but seating is still snugly set. The tables themselves feature small, inset, rubber placemats and are adorned with just a glass, bread plate and napkin; the crockery and cutlery to come are Villeroy & Boch. Inside it is dim with the main source of light the windowed frontage – though this is veiled by voiles – and the florally-tattooed jade screens, lit from behind. There is a small bar by the entrance, besides which a serving station is inserted into the wall. The soft music is chill-out, but the exposed surfaces can act as natural noise amplifiers. There is definitely a relaxed air and trendier vibe; when busy, the bustle creates a nice, comfy café feel.

l'Autre Pied 5 Tasting Menu

The leather-bound menu consists of five/six ALC items per course, in addition to which, there is a £55 seven-course tasting menu and £22 three-course menu du jour. The dishes are appetisingly described and prices quite reasonable, I was already pretty sure I would plump for the tasting carte, but there were a couple of courses I wanted substituted; I was told this would not be a problem and was given liberal rein to choose whatever I wished…

Les Pains - White & Wholemeal

Les Pains: White and Wholemeal. Bread is now baked onsite and comes,] in the warm form of white or wholemeal square-shaped baps. The softer white was yeasty and had nice crumb while the more rustic wholemeal was thicker and denser. The mild, silky, unsalted-only butter was from Paimpol, Brittany.

Butternut Squash & Sage Velouté, Balsamic Lentils, Crème Fraîche Butternut Squash & Sage Velouté, Balsamic Lentils, Crème Fraîche 2

Entrée 1: Butternut Squash and Sage Velouté, Balsamic Lentils, Crème Fraîche. Balsamic vinegar-infused lentil quenelle, crowned with crème fraîche, was accompanied by baby onions and sprinkled with coriander and cress; golden yellow butternut squash potage was poured tableside. The thick, smooth squash soup had good body and nutty-sweetness soothed by spicy, slightly bitter sage; the marinated lentils, naturally nutty, sweet and peppery, but now enlivened with zinging vinegar, were a good complement – as was the warm, citrusy coriander. Cress contributed more pepper, whilst lively crème fraîche, more creaminess. Gently sautéed, sweetly-sour, baby onions were crunchy without yet soft within.

Line-Caught Plaice, Charlotte Potatoes, Brown Shrimp Emulsion & Shaved Fennel Salad

Entrée 2: Line Caught Plaice, Charlotte Potatoes, Brown Shrimp Emulsion and Shaved Fennel Salad. Pan fried plaice, placed upon a platform of crushed Charlotte potato, came crested with shaved Hispi cabbage and fennel salad and topped with herby tuile; the bowl was filled with blended brown shrimp emulsion and celery nage. The first sensation felt was the lovely smell of flaky, fine fish, pleasantly piping hot and cooked perfectly; its ochre-coloured crust in captivatingly stark contrast to immaculate ivory flesh. A common liquorice thread ran through the parsley, tarragon, dill and fennel, sweetly supplementing the seafood. The celery chunks, floating with firm, sweet shrimp in full-flavoured and – thanks to the chive and dill – slightly, but enjoyably sour broth, were refreshingly crunchy. The herb tuile, not surprisingly, soon turned soggy, howbeit retained its savour.

Pan Fried Foie Gras, Sage & Onion Lyonnaise, Granny Smith Apple Sorbet

Entrée 3: Pan Fried Foie Gras, Sage and Onion Lyonnaise, Granny Smith Apple Sorbet. Next arrived an Arcadian slab of black slate carrying a caricature construction-site composed of two foie gras ingots – one resting on onion and sage confit – obliquitous ooze of more onion-sage oil and Granny Smith apple one two three four ways: purée; sorbet inserted with cinnamon tuile and atop mixed crushed nuts; and criss-crossed apple cuts julienne over apple jelly. The amber-capped, pale copper foie was a little well-done for my liking, but had strong flavour; confit was savoury-sweet, its spicier sage slicing through the foie’s fatty luxury – the green apple purée’s mild acidity did the same. The visibly just-sliced strips had nice crunch; jelly, intense fruity essence; and the sorbet’s coldness clearly contrasted with the warm meat while the sugary tuile harmonised with its richness. The dish was an interesting deconstruction and it was enjoyable mixing, matching and experimenting with the different elements. That said, though finely thought out and executed well, the final result was only decent. This was the newest item on the menu, thus it may still be a work-in-progress.

Roasted Breast of Mallard, Beetroot Purée, Cracked Wheat, Candy Beetroot, Game Jus

Plat Principal 1: Roasted Breast of Mallard, Beetroot Purée, Cracked Wheat, Candy Beetroot, Game Jus. Thulian pink mallard breast and dark sienna-skinned thigh confit, garnished with game gravy and plash of beetroot purée, were presented with untrimmed beet fondants, braised salsify, roasted baby onions and, in separate petite pot, lemon-laced cracked wheat. The wild duck, again as a personal preference, could have done with a minute or so less in the pan, but was still succulent and had such flavour, it is not worth complaining about. Sweet beet candy, maybe in homage to the sauvage canard, left indigenously untrimmed, went well with the meat. The scrumptious cracked wheat was puffy, nutty and kissed with lemon zest. Braised, elemental-tasting salsify shoot seemed at the time superfluous, however, in retrospect, it was a strikingly adroit addition: the salsify, or oyster plant (because it has savour similar to, obviously, oysters), was an attempt to manipulate the mallard’s own inherent hint of fishiness (from its diet of mostly, obviously, fish). All very obvious, obviously. Whether it came off on the plate, I honestly cannot fully recollect, but I applaud the crack and the cunning.

Poached & Roasted Pigeon, Pumpkin & Orange Purée, Blackberry & Star Anise Glaze

Plat Principal 2: Poached and Roasted Pigeon, Pumpkin and Orange Purée, Blackberry and Star Anise Glaze. Brink pink pigeon, rubbed with star anise and bedecked with blackberries, was partnered with roasted pumpkin, shredded Savoy cabbage and pommes dauphine; the plate was sashed with parallels of pumpkin and orange purée and ringed with jus roti. The tender, beautifully soft, beefy bird had great gaminess and gravy that was deliciously deep. The whole berries were juicy, saccharine, tangy and, together with the tart anise, a fantastic foil for the fowl. The pumpkin-orange paste had honeyed nuttiness; whilst the grainy gourd, that melted in the mouth, was subtly bittersweet. The pommes – basically beignet dumplings of mashed potato and choux pastry – were yummy: crispy, creamy and feather-light. A hint of peppery horseradish was their inspired secret spicy ingredient.

Chocolate Shot & Miniature Warm Custard of Valrhona Chocolate, Marinated Pineapple, Passionfruit Ice Cream

Pre-Dessert: Chocolate Shot and Miniature Warm Custard of Valrhona Chocolate, Marinated Pineapple, Passionfruit Ice Cream. In preparation for the more serious desserts, two dainties were delivered. First, was a cracked nougat-sprinkled triple-layered wee verrine of chocolate crème cradle, coffee mousse middle and praline cream coronet. Compounded together, the smooth, airy tiers were sweet, nutty and strongly reminiscent of whipped cappuccino. Secondly, a small bowl of warmed 90% Valrhona coco custard, with semi-submerged cool quenelle of passion fruit ice cream, had hidden pineapple pieces immersed within and hazelnut and cocoa crumbs scattered upon it. The frothy custard was bitter but sugary; ice cream, full of fruity zing; and the juicy pineapple, fizzy and refreshing.

Black Forest Millefeuille

Dessert 1: Black Forest Millefeuille. The initial pudding was a reinvention of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte – Black Forest Gateau: four plies of puff pastry separated, in ascending order, coupled scoops of cherry sorbet, chocolate mousse and kirsch foam. Alongside came milk coco ice cream, set with honey-glazed nut comet atop crushed pistachio, and smeared milk cocoa strewn with more nuts. The flaky pastry was caramelised until hazelnut-mahogany and had a nice nutty taste; cherry sorbet was tart; choc, sour-sweet; and kirsch, pleasantly mellow. Cracking those feuilles apart, the sandwiched fillings exuding out, and spooning large, clumsy helpings of pastry, cherry, chocolate, kirsch into my mouth, where the carnage continued, was enjoyable.

Apple & Blackberry Crumble, Bayleaf Custard, Blackberry Sorbet

Dessert 2: Apple and Blackberry Crumble, Bayleaf Custard, Blackberry Sorbet. A coupe of hot apple compote and blackberry confiture, bathing in bay-leaf custard and covered with streusel, arrived decked with dollops of blackberry and bay-leaf sorbet and pistachio. The crumble was scrummy. Crunchy topping; gooey, herby, floral custard; sugary, moist, chunky compote; mildly tangy jam; all mingled delectably. The contrarily-cold, dense sorbets were more powerfully flavoured; the blackberry sharper and bay-leaf delightfully zingy, refreshing and almost metallic. Good stuff.

There is clearly plenty of talent behind the stoves; Marcus’ pedigree has already been particularised, but he is also joined by his brother, Jason, whom he poached from Le Champignon Sauvage, where he was sous chef; together, they are turning out full-flavoured, well-thought-out and well-presented plates. Execution today was faultless – I did mention a couple of cuts being better done than I prefer, but they were in no way even close to overcooked. An early criticism was the over-complication of dishes, maybe with an eager eye on Michelin inspector’s expectations, but if this was true then, it is has been tempered now. Ingredient choices, effective, purposeful whilst still rather simple, are occasionally inspired and sometimes deliciously creative – scallops, celery, Roquefort, pear and walnuts form one popular starter, for example. Personally, I can see some of Bosi’s influence in this regard and in the sheer labour-intensiveness of the cooking too. Eaves’ fondness for sweeter touches also resembles his former mentor. Locally-sourced produce – Cornish seafood, Shropshire wild game – mixes the humble with the refined; haddock, plaice, turnips sit side-by-side with foie gras, truffles and venison. It also helps keep prices sensible: using domestic raw materials when in season means they are at their cheapest whilst also at their tastiest.

My lunch was consistent in its quality and in my appreciation for the dishes, but I liked the foie least; it simply did not do much for me. The strongest course however, the pigeon, I thought terrific. The flavours were bold and combinations, beautiful; the plate also looked fantastic. After lunch, speaking with Marcus, I discovered I am not alone in my admiration for this delectable bird, which is the only item back on the carte from last autumn; he also loves it and it is his favourite item off the menu – so maybe that’s the secret ingredient then, love. Special mention goes out to the desserts too; here the Britishness of the bill really comes to the fore with retro classics. Black Forest gâteau, crumble, custard, baked Alaska are all childhood classics, each given a modern reworking. After finding out that there is no trained chef de pâtisserie in the kitchen at the moment, I was even more impressed with them – considering the high bar set by the rest of the food, the fact I did not descry a deviation from this standard with the puddings is a compliment to the current impromptu pâtissier.

The staff, as you would expect, are very relaxed and down-to-earth. It was my serveur, Davide’s, first week on the job, so his awareness of dish compositions and the provenance of the food were still unripe, but he did make every effort to find out any information I required. The manager, Stefano, on the other hand, showed off a flawless knowledge of all the dishes. He was attentive and inquisitive; asking me for my thoughts on the cooking and restaurant and carefully listening to my responses. He was also kind enough to introduce me to Marcus, who was just as keen on my opinions, clearly caring about them. He came across frank, friendly, easy-to-talk-to and I got the impression that behind his youthful, relaxed appearance lay tremendous ambition.

It is also worth noting that the restaurant has only been open (almost) literally one year and, which is always pleasing to see, the whole team is constantly working to improve themselves. This is evinced by their freshly humble willingness to accept constructive criticism: bread before was charged for and bought-in, now they bake it in the kitchen and one can eat as much as one wants (can); portion sizes were said to be too small, but my helpings were ample and filling; and even more minor amendments, like the introduction of music, have been made.

I read this in one review: [Fay Maschler’s friend] said to the chef, ‘I thought this was going to be more of a bistro.’ Marcus looked horrified. ‘I couldn’t do that,’ he said, ‘it is not what I was taught.’ I love it.

It is November now and January is in sight. Many think l’Autre has one pied in the door already. I think they deserve it.


5-7 Blandford Street, Marylebone, W1U 3DB
tel: 020 7486 9696
nearest tube: Bond Street
www.lautrepied.co.uk


L'Autre Pied on Urbanspoon

13 Responses to “L’Autre Pied, London”


  1. 1 kent paul November 10, 2008 at 4:11 am

    Like i said to you before once Marcus Eaves gets the right financial backers he is definitly one to watch out for because his current place is just a stepping stone, P.S i think he should get a star when the red guide comes out at the beginning of next year, but then again i have been saying the same thing about Anthony Flinn’s cooking ever sinced he opend Anthony’s in 2004 and he is still waiting, which is a disgrace and an embarresment to the Michelin guide because if Arbutus can get a star then so should the likes of L’Autre Pied and Anthony’s IMO.

  2. 2 Food Snob November 10, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Good Morning,
    You may be right about it being a stepping stone. Are you suggesting that maybe part of the conditions behind him having his own restaurant was that it had to be more informal and not a direct competitior to Big Brother?
    The cooking deserves the star.

  3. 3 Neil Jackson November 10, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Thanks for the informative review.

    I was interested to read Kent Paul’s remark about Arbutus. I couldn’t agree more. I think the fact Arbutus gained a Michelin star has only served to show up the guide as alarmingly random in its grading process. I’ve eaten twice at Arbutus and whilst it is what I would term ‘good to occasionally very good’ it simply does not warrant its star over the exclusion of certain other restaurants. In a countrywide context there are many, many establishments just as good as (and a lot of them easily better than) Arbutus that you just inherently know will never get so much as a sniff at a Michelin star. What use is the guide when it presents such obvious unfairness? It clearly rankles with Kent Paul that Arbutus sits there year after year with its Michelin star – and frankly it also rankles with myself. I don’t wish ill on the place – but it has unfortunately come to act as a symbol for the failings of the guide.

  4. 4 Food Snob November 10, 2008 at 11:15 am

    You’re welcome. Thank you for reading it!
    Unfortunately, as yet, I have not tried Arbutus, so I cannot comment.
    To a degree, it is inevitable that there will be anomalies on the list…but, at least, it gives us something to talk about!

  5. 5 genuiness November 10, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    A very interesting review. I have heard of l’autre pied but have never been there because of my shocking experience at Pied a Terre (an experience that nearly reduced me to tears, literally). One of the problems I had with the food at PaT was that a lot of emphasis was placed on the presentation to the detriment of the food itself which did not deliver on taste. Another thing which has scared me away is the pricing of the food which is rather ambitious.

    How highly would you recommend this place compared to restaurants around its price range e.g. L’anima?

  6. 6 londoneater November 10, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Glad to see Marcus is still going strong, on the occasion I went, I was treated to an uamami rich artichoke veloute which was awesome.

    And yup I did enjoy the apple crumble, I do think the tangyness of the compote + the sweet crumbles were nice.

    I reviewed it here:
    http://londoneater.com/2008/10/11/seven-course-heaven-at-lautre-pied/

    I do have to agree with Kent Paul in that this place should win a Michelin star soon – I suppose they are just waiting for it reach 1 year old b4 they bestowed the honour.

    And I have to agree with Neil as well about Arbutus’s quality. I’ve been to the sister restaurant Wild honey (both restaurants have nearly identical menus) and think that the cooking there is so much better than arbutus. Just more refined.

    While Arbutus is good, some dishes verging on very good (like the pork head and the bavette) it’s not exactly ground breaking.

    Before my visit to wild honey, I thought that Arbutus was rather formidable, but now – forget arbutus, just go to wild honey, its the same style of cooking, but just better.

  7. 7 kent paul November 10, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    FS

    I dont think it has anything to do with being in direct competition with his boss Shane Osborn, i just think that the latter had to give him a place to shine to keep him within the Pied a Terre restaurant group, kind of like what Gordon F*****g Ramsay has done with the likes of Angela Hartnett, Mark Sergant, Jason Atherton, Stuart Gillies, Josh Emett, Simone Zanoni etc etc, and i am pretty sure that the same thing will happen to Claire Smyth once she proves her self at his flag ship restaurant. Obviously Marcus Wareing chose to spred his own wings because he wanted to be a known for his own food rather than his ex bosses and who could blame him. And like i said before i am pretty sure that once Marcus Eaves proves him self which he will do, the Pied a Terre restauarnt group will eather give him a bigger more upmarket place shine or somebody else with alot of money will do it instead IMO.

  8. 8 Loving Annie November 10, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    The soup caught my imagination, it being a cold windy day here. I am glad to see you are finding so many wonderful places to dine, FS🙂

    I live through you vicariously🙂

  9. 9 captain kerk November 11, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    GREAT REVIEW FS !! went for dinner last-night (monday)on the back of this review and had the autumn menu i have to say the value for money was absolutely outstanding 4 courses for £39.95.
    Surprised to see the restaurant so busy in the current economic climate but i suppose restaurants offering refined food at more than reasonable prices will always do well.
    One thing that baffles me is all this talk of marcus eaves moving to a grander site or getting backing from somebody else ? do you really think he would rise to the plate so to speak at such a young age or do you even think that london has room for another up market restaurant??
    For me personally, i really enjoyed my meal at L’Autre Pied and was fortunate to have the infamous crumble definitely a “TASTE OF AUTUMN” along with a rather rich game pithivier.
    Looking forward to going back in the near future and will try the a la carte menu
    Thanks FS for the recommendation and if this meal was any thing to go by i’m sure Eaves will be shining into the new year

  10. 10 Food Snob November 11, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    Hello all, sorry about this tardy reply.

    G: At l’AP this is not the case; presentation is good, but combinations and details are decisive. As you can see from the other comments above, the food seems popular with all.
    Regarding pricing, I do not think it ambitious really: 3-course menu du jour for £22 and you can eat well off the ALC for under £40. If this place gets a star, as many think it will, in January, than this is decent value for Michelin cooking.
    Comparing it to l’Anima is difficult because of the different cuisines, but if I take One-O-One, which is similarly priced, especially with the handy 50% discount from toptable, then it is better.

    LE: I will have to try both, eventually…

    KP: I understand where you are coming from, but I do not get the impression (not that I know him well or anything) that he seems to be settled and content, for now. I felt he seemed rather set on improving l’AP and seeing how far he could go with it. It would be interesting seeing him in a more glamorous location and finding out what he can do with finer ingredients.

    LA: Thanks. Actually, I have been enjoying soups a lot lately. Normally, I would not order one off the ALC, but I am appreciating them more and more.

    CK: Cheers, CK. Off my review? That really is the nicest compliment you could have given me! I am glad you liked it and very pleased to see you on here too.
    You raise a good point in that, even if his cooking is good enough, is there simply a market for it? I do not know whether people would want to invest in restaurants just now. Whether he can handle it though, I think he can. He has great experience at a distinguished level (as mentioned above, having been sous chef at two 2* restaurants). I do not think his age is important because having gotten to where he is now, he is not going to want to go back or stay still. I doubt whether he can have achieved what he has without being ambitious and wanting to push on…
    Regarding the food, that crumble was so good, was it not? I almost ordered a second straight after my first, but that would be too much of an indulgence (even for me, for now). Pithivier of game? Sounds gorgeous, I would surely have ordered that had it been on the menu when I went!
    My pleasure and nicely put😉

  11. 11 Man December 15, 2008 at 10:11 am

    I had Sunday lunch at L’AP yesterday (my first time there) and like you I was very impressed. It very comfortably passes the 1 star level, in my opinion, and I very much agree with the other readers on the favourable comparison with Arbutus. It wasn’t perfect, especially re. the cooking precision (the rare steak wasn’t really rare and the pheasant was a little dry inside and bitter outside). But Eaves wasn’t there and things may be different when he is. And, overall, it was a truly superior lunch anyway, at an incredible 26.50 for three courses.

    Man

  12. 12 Food Snob December 15, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Welcome, Man. Nice to see you here.
    Glad you enjoyed it. It seems a restaurant that is winning over fans constantly and moving from strength to strength.
    Grazie!

  13. 13 adam preston August 19, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK LADS


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