When visiting a foreign city, it’s always hard to find a good restaurant. Last week I stayed at the fabulous Ampersand Hotel which I reviewed yesterday (read here). In the underground vault of this elegant small luxury hotel houses the restaurant Apero, led by Executive Chef Chris Golding. I’m not a food critic, nor do I claim to be a food expert, but I am quite confident when saying that the food in Apero is high quality, fresh, and above all very tasty!
The Apero restaurant is eye candy for interior design lovers with its bare brick walls, brass and copper pipes, and industrial pendant lamps that softly light the space, and Italian tile floors. The space has an elegant, yet rustic, comfortable and laid back atmosphere, as if being in an Italian brasserie.
Behind the scenes
My friends and I were bold enough to ask for an interview with the chef cook, yet we got more. Chris gave us an exclusive tour in the kitchen, the epicenter, where his colourful food is prepared. We were even given a peek into the freezer where he kept pink lettuce, yellow and red spotted radicchio, the most tasty spring tomatoes from Italy (I’m not a tomatoes fan, but these were to sweet to resist), and special mushrooms from France. He gets his products from small farmers, small local businesses and at top secret markets.
We got to see Dutch cook Christof at work, and chief pastry chef Ji Sun Shin make chocolate treats and bake fresh scones. The scones were to die for! We were even given a cute small box with two of her sweet creations….now that is hospitality! Their love for food and cooking became even more apparent when they rolled up their sleeves to show us their vegetables tattoos.
Chef cook Chris Golding and his team cooked up a scrumptious sharing menu for us. We started with a warm out-of-the-oven focaccia bread and crispy parmesan sticks. Next we got to taste:
- baked goat cheese with honey truffles
- baked scallops with seaweed, served in a shell covered with a crust
- mixed greens salad with those top secret tasty Italian spring tomatoes and the pink lettuce
- Pappardelle with butter & winter truffle
- garlic leaves with scamorza (smoked mozzarella)
- Stone bass, sumac & beetroot risotto
I just can’t describe the flavours, I can tell you that it was heavenly! It was fresh, delicate, and healthy as well. You could taste it was all prepared with love and great care. No pretentious presentation, no fluffy words to describe what you actually get, and you do get rich portions to share. So much, that we had to skip dessert. A reason to go back.
Since we stayed at the hotel, we also had breakfast at the Apero restaurant. Again a feast for your eyes and your taste buds. Fresh banana bread, sweet and savoury pastries, the most fluffy pancakes I ever tasted, and hearty omelettes or scambled eggs with fresh toppings. What better way to start the day?
The creators of all above yummie food are chef cook Chris Golding and his team. Chris sat down with us for an up close and personal interview.
Chris Golding, has worked at a number of London’s best restaurants, including Grangers & Co. in Notting Hill, which was Bill Granger’s first UK restaurant, Nahm, Nobu Berkeley, Mirabelle and The Square, all of which are Michelin-starred. Chris also oversaw the launch of Galoupet in Knightsbridge. Hence he has a lot of experience in a wide array of cuisines and various cooking styles to draw upon.
“I always wanted to be a cook. My mother was a cook at my school and she inspired me to follow in her footsteps”, says Chris. He gets his ideas for recipes from browsing through his more than 500 cookbooks. ” I especially like the Irish classic dishes with seasonal produce”, he says. His signature dish is the beetroot risotto with sea bass. “If I were to choose a select amount of ingredients to take with me to a deserted island I would certainly choose beetroot: You can cook it, eat it raw, cold or hot, make soup, or stew. It’s so versatile. I would also take white pepper”.
Chris believes cooking is all about creative freedom and food should be 80% flavour and 20% visual. He therefore chooses to cook with seasonal products and puts high value on the quality and freshness of his ingredients. “The taste is most important”, he concludes. And that we experienced! Thanks Chris for your hospitality and the excellent food. I’ll be back for dessert soon.
Apero Restaurant & Bar | 2 Harrington Road, London SW7 3ER | T: 0207 591 4410 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org