Laurent-Perrier Champagne at The New Angel Notting Hill
39 Chepstow Place, Notting Hill, W2 4TS
020 7221 7620/www.thenewangel-nh.co.uk
The London restaurant scene has changed almost beyond recognition in the last ten years with the rise of a myriad of small ‘fun’ dining concepts and a move away from traditional ‘fine’ dining. So I was intrigued to get an invite to review a Laurent-Perrier champagne event at The New Angel, chef John Burton-Race’s first London opening in 12 years. Burton-Race has built a solid fan base for his cooking since the mid-1980s when he he opened L’Ortolan in Berkshire before transferring to his eponymous restaurant at The Landmark Hotel in Marylebone. After a sabbatical in France making a well received TV series and associated cookbook his next destination was The New Angel in Dartmouth in Devon. Having won a Michelin star at each of his gaffes, Burton-Race is clearly no slouch in the kitchen but how would he fare back in the brave new gastronomic world of London?
The latest iteration of The New Angel sits on the ground floor of a converted Victorian pub in Notting Hill. It’s very comfortable with woods, white and ocher tones but feels a little old-fashioned to me although I would guess the Michelin men will lap it up. The point of our visit was to explore the range and history of Laurent-Perrier champagne and we were given an eloquent introduction to the house and its wines by David Hesketh who is their UK MD. Veuve (widow) Perrier was the initial driving force behind the marque and David suggested that it was her influence that brought about its predominant taste profile of lightness, freshness and elegance. The wines are primarily based on the Chardonnay grape and to supply the requisite volume of grapes the house has contracts with over 1000 growers.
We started proceedings with a glass of the Brut non-vintage which really articulated the Laurent-Perrier style. A blend of Chardonnay 50% Pinot Noir 35% and Pinot Meunière 15% it was the perfect accompaniment for our amuse bouche, a deliciously warm celeriac velouté, studded with sweet, wild mushrooms.
The Demi-Sec has an added 40 grams of sugar per bottle. Again a blend of Chardonnay 45%, Pinot Noir 40% and Pinot Meunière 15%, it brought the sweetness out of a pressed terrine of Beetroot with whipped burrata, pear, celery and mustard leaves. This dish had a terrific contrast in texture and flavours.
The Ultra Brut has no additional sugar and was launched in1891. It fell out of favour in the 1920s but returned In the 80s with the advent of nouvelle cuisine. Kate Moss says it’s the ‘diet champagne’ and who am I to argue?! Chilled Cornish lobster came with a potato and autumn truffle salad and a Bloody Mary and tarragon mayo dressing. The Ultra brut cut through the mayo and worked really well with the dish but for me is too dry for drinking without food.
Pan-fried fillet of John Dory, sea vegetable and a langoustine reduction was a great dish. The fish was perfectly cooked, the skin seared with the flesh still firm and moist…and the reduction was intense.
We drank the lovely Brut Millésimé 2004 vintage with it (50% Chardonnay 50% Pinot Noir). Laurent Perrier
don’t make a vintage every year and this wine had more definition, weight and flavour than the previous ones we had tasted.
The Grand Siècle Prestige Cuvée takes art of wine blending to its peak. Launched in 1960 this is a multl vintage cuvée (’99, ’02, ’04) with a 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir blend. It is a step up from the single vintage wines and has many layers of complexity, a lime freshness in the nose and a honeyed acidity. It’s richness sat beautifully with Roast Squab Pigeon, foie gras, wild mushrooms, golden raisins and a Madeira jus which was very rare and tender.
The Raspberry Macaroon was sexy and sweet and great with the Cuvée Rose. It’s a blend of of still red and white wine with sugar then added. The juice is left in contact with the grape skin with the wine maturing for four years in the cellar.
It was fascinating to taste the variety in the Laurent-Perrier range. They make some terrific champagne and for a celebration or just to do something a bit different, a champagne/food pairing is a really great option. As for John Burton-Race, his cooking has a classic sense of sophistication in the type of space that will no doubt see The Michelin men giving him their approval in the not too distant future.