|Culinary Creativity At Its Finest|
Michael Nadra puts his name above the door and meat onto the menu
When I first met Michael Nadra four years ago, a few things struck me about him – his age, his passion for food and his courage to set out his stall as a chef who only cooked fish.
Uncompromising with his combinations of big bold flavours and delicate fish and shell fish, Michael’s culinary flair is, in my opinion, outstanding.
But talent alone is not always enough as any chef worth his salt knows. A restaurant and its menu must adapt and evolve in order to stay fresh or indeed survive.
A change of name to Restaurant Michel Nadra and a change of direction which will delight the meat eaters of Chiswick, Michael has breathed new life into the Elliot Road restaurant.
The new décor creates a much warmer feel to the interior with the black leather benches and chairs going a long way to add to the whole much softer feel to the dining room.
Using the same skill honed on his signature fish dishes, Michael has introduced meat on his Modern European Prix Fix, A la Carte and Tasting Menus including roast saddle of venison and port tenderloin and choucroute alongside roasted Pollack with sautéed squid and monkfish with brown shrimps.
Creating the extensive new wine list has been, by his own omission, like a journey through the wine regions of the world. “I’ve learnt so much putting this wine list together,” says Michael. “I didn’t know much about wines before I began so it was all done by taste. We [restaurant manager Claudiu Covrig] went with what we liked rather than knowing vineyards. Some of these were like finding gems.”
Michael is leafing through the leather bound wine list which is broken down by grape variety rather than region and also by the glass – a generous 11 in all – and by half bottle. Although it sounds daunting, a read through the 210 wines listed is well worth the effort and if nothing jumps out immediately I would recommend asking advice from either Claudiu or Michael either would delight in the opportunity to speak eloquently about some of the more unusual bottles they have to offer.
My other recommendation would be to opt for the Tasting Menu £42 accompanied with the Wine Tasting £25 which may sound on the pricey side but oh so worth every penny and indeed the pounds my husband and I piled on after eating it.
The highlights for me were the terrine of pork, foie gras, chicken, wood pigeon and rabbit wonderfully rich gamey flavours which complemented rather than competed with each other. The seared yellowfin tuna atop a delicious pile of oriental salad was also excellent as was the grilled monkfish and brown shrimps which are both particular fishy favourites of mine.
The different wines which accompanied each course featured Clasic Massaya from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon and a surprisingly delicious Kaferberg Weingut Rabl Kamptal from Austria. I say surprising because I would honestly not have been adventurous enough to try it without encouragement. I’m very glad I did, it was very good.
I have great admiration for Michael who I find as inventive and interesting as the food he delivers time and again. I particularly like the way he uses little details to make big impressions with his dishes. For want of a better description, this is creative cheffiness at its very best.
March 30, 2010