Piquet Mix | Piquet, 92-94 Newman Street London, W1T 3EZ
It’s always exciting when a new independent restaurant opens, what makes it astonishing is when it gets a clean sweep of 4 and 5 star reviews (well almost). The Evening Standard, Time Out and even the Guardian’s Jay Rayner gave Piquet a glowing write-up. So we thought we’d throw our opinion into the table and we promise not to go quoting from Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina like Mr Rayner did!
Let’s start with the basics… Piquet opened late summer this year in a joint venture between Allan Picket (former head chef at Plateau, Galvin Bistrot de Luxe, and Orrery) and backed by André Blais (founder of Bodean’s BBQ), combining the culinary cultures of England and France.
The restaurant’s name is actually named after a 16th century French card game, but I prefer the theory that Piquet is a French play on words of Allan’s surname. In the same way that Patricia Routledge’s character in Keeping Up Appearances middle-classed-up her name from Hyacinth Bucket to Hyacinth ‘Bouquet’.
Lastly, the restaurant is at the wrong end of Newman Street (aka the Oxford Street end), but don’t let that put you off, once inside all those traumas of navigating through the swarms of tourists/crazed shoppers simply melt away. If we’re going to be really picky (or should that be piqeuy?), their website could do with a re-think, finding the menu is a tricky task, it’s not easy to navigate.
It wasn’t the main dining area downstairs that we were invited along to, it was the Fir Room. The Fir Room is Piquet’s no reservations space with a daily changing menu of smaller plates using seasonal British produce. The venue seems a little upside down in our opinion, a bit like Ember Yard.
The Fir Room is set in a welcoming, cosy and intimate environment with dark wood panelling and polished brass fixtures. There are also hand painted decorative panels, vintage British chairs, classic pewter table tops with heritage pieces of both French and English tableware – beautiful.
First up was a Miss Polly Hawkins (£9.50) – camomile infused gin, crafted with elderflower cordial, lemon bitters finished egg white for silky texture. A little too sweet for Saff (she likes manly drinks) but I enjoyed the blend of gin and elderflower.
This was closely followed by a plate of Colchester rock oysters served with shallot vinegar, fresh lemon and rye bread (3 for £5.50 or 6 for £10.50.) Saff refused point-blank to try them, she’s not a fan. I, on the other hand, manned up and gave one a go – nice if you like that kind of thing.
The kind of thing we do like is wine! And the Casa de Passarella, A Descoberta Branco, Dao, 2014, served with the oysters was a perfect match. In fact all four wines we had paired brilliantly with our sample dishes – this is something that general manager Alain Morice is extremely proud of. The former head sommelier of The Don deserves a special mention, what he doesn’t know about the menu and drinks list simply isn’t important.
Next up were taster portions of a selection from the seasonal/changeable menu. But don’t worry, there will be some permanent fixtures – including braised Black Angus short rib. This menu plans to have a mix of ‘classic and contemporary dishes’, using ingredients sourced from around the UK – particularly Pickett’s home county of Kent.
Casserole of cod cheeks with baby squid and haricot blanc (£9.50) and the Pigs head croquettes (£5) were my standout dishes. Saff really enjoyed her Pork crackling and picked crab (£7.50), I can’t comment as by bite-sized taster rolled onto the floor – gutted!
Loved Le Piggy burgers (£10) – smoked patty, pulled pork, streaky bacon and served with chips. The Piquet charcuterie board (£12) – rillette, terrine, ham, coppa, toast and pickle were obviously from first class suppliers, great value too.
While I missed out with the run away pork crackling, I managed to double up on the Chicory and pear salad with walnut dressing (£6.50), thanks to the crumbled blue cheese. Saff, if you didn’t know, can’t eat cheese. Which, unluckily for her (but not for me), halved her dessert options. Being the true gent that I am, Saff had my share of the Pate de fruit (£4.50) – sugared fruit jellies and chocolate truffles.
Oh well, extra pickings for me from the amazing selection of cheeses on offer (£2 per piece). I must be getting old – I loved the deceptively sweet-smelling sherry (Gutierrez Colosia, Amintillado seco) that was severed with dessert, it really complemented the cheese board. Maybe my Nan had the right idea all along. I’m tempted to drop my usual after dinner cocktail for a little glass of sherry now. That said, the self titled ‘Le Piquet’ (£9.50) cocktail – gin, Piquet sloe jam, plum bitters and Cava really hit the spot.
Even though we only really had small portions of these small plate dishes, it’s fairly obvious that Pickett knows what he’s doing and only uses the very best ingredients. It’s also handy having such a hidden gem in this part of town. We often get asked ‘where’s a good place for a pit-spot in Oxford Street?’, now we know exactly where to send them.
The Fir Room Monday to Saturday: 11:00 – 23:00.
Sunday: 11:00 – 22:30
The Restaurant Monday to Saturday: 12:00 – 15:00, 17:30 – 23:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 15:00, 17:30 – 22:30
Nearest station: Tottenham Court Road (4 mins walk)
Oxford Circus Station (6 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Piquet, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.