Arno Maasdorp by Orlando Gili
A couple of days before the booking an appetite-whetting menu is emailed to you. There are vegetarian options, and they seem happy to work around allergies too. The one thing missing from the email is a time, and an address. On the day we get a further email with instructions on which flat to rendez-vous at and when.
After nervously ringing the door bell, we are ushered upstairs into a large dining room with tables and seats enough for 16. The bowls on the wall, and the bell jars with clock faces and flowers seemingly growing out of them, add to the arty feel. While we sit and wait the impeccably moustachioed Arno Maasdorp slaves away in the open plan kitchen, his able assistant taking our wine to be chilled.
The first course is a palette cleansing courgette carpaccio with barrel aged feta in a vinaigrette of sorts, with an esoteric salt. The second, a delicious terrine of duck and pistachios, served with pickles and toast. Roast sea bass with lightly curried mussels are served up for main course with a salad of potatoes, lambs lettuce and peas. Pudding was almond and black cherry tart, followed by coffee, some house wine, and petit fours. In short, good food with foodie flourishes to delight the discerning palette. The menu changes each week, but no doubt the flourish remains. It would be unfair of us not to mention the service, which was excellent.
The atmosphere? Well, mid way between a swanky restaurant and a dinner party. Foodie, but not sneeringly elitist, friendly and intimate. The night we dined, one of the other guests was the chef behind the rising Shoreditch star of Les Trois Garcons. Sadly Saltoun is now booked up to the end of September, but be quick off the mark at the end of August and book for October! Asking only a minimum contribution of £25 for a four course meal (and BYO booze) you'd be hard pressed to find such good value in such a relaxed yet refined setting. Feast your eyes here.
By Oliver Gili