You could win a three-course à la carte dinner for two people, including two bottles of the sommelier’s choice of wine, at Foliage restaurant in London on 14 December. The table’s booked for 8pm, but don’t worry about getting there on time, as the second part of the prize is to be chauffeur driven there and back in an Audi A6 – what better way to make an entrance?
Foliage, in Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, has fantastic views of London, with a raised floor so diners can enjoy looking out over Hyde Park. Head chef Chris Staines has been at the restaurant since 2002 and works alongside executive chef David Nicholls to create a seasonal, modern European menu. If you want to try it for yourself, and arrive there in style, read on.
How to enter
For your chance to win a meal for two at Foliage, and be chauffeur driven there in an Audi A6, all you need to do is click here and enter your details: name, address, daytime phone number, mobile number, email address and the make and model of the car you drive.
Alternatively, text “Audi” to 61188 (texts cost 50p plus standard network charges).
The closing date for entries is 5pm on Friday 8 December 2006.
Autumn Foliage at its very best
On one side is Knightsbridge, on the other Hyde Park. With such a heavenly setting, Foliage restaurant is perfectly placed to make the most of earthly pleasures – human-made and natural.
Opened in 2000, Foliage set out to be a breath of fresh air. All the tables have a view of the park and under every glass plate is a leaf picked across the road that morning. The divide between indoors and out is blurred by white silk leaves in glass panels that change colour throughout the year.
The surprises keep coming as you arrive through the grand hotel entrance, up the stairs and on through the funky Mandarin bar and wine cellar. Racks of bottles sit behind glass walls on either side of the passage leading to the restaurant, where the picture windows open up the vista of parkland.
Foliage’s six/seven course tasting menu starts by matching ceps, walnuts and pickled pairs, all redolent of autumn, with scallops. Pumpkin, ruby endive and chorizo bring more autumnal leaf shades and flavours to sea bass.
The cooking is deft and some of the combinations are daring, but the dishes never strive for effect. The sweetness of rabbit, pot roast and a pithivier of wild mushrooms and asparagus is picked up by vanilla. Also on the à la carte menu is a starter of roast scallops with cauliflower panna cotta and caramelised cauliflower beignet. This demonstrates how an established combination can be taken further without ever losing sight of the original idea.
It’s a gifted chef who resists the temptation to add more flavours than is needed to bring out the best in each one. Foliage’s head chef, Chris Staines, is backed by the hotel’s executive chef, David Nicholls, who used to work at the Ritz. Staines, who learned his art with Nico Ladenis and Marco Pierre White, isn’t resting on his laurels – he’s just made radical changes to the lunch menu.
Instead of the conventional starter, main course and dessert combo, choose four courses from a choice of 14 savoury dishes and half a dozen desserts (including cheese). It’s the perfect solution for those who want two or three starters.
Crab (with avocado, pickled ginger and cucumber), a deliciously refreshing beginning, was followed by caramelised sweetbreads with twists of salty, sweet and very porky Serrano ham and then a little pavé of Buccleuch beef with a tidy cannelloni of snails and a parsnip purée – a dashing and perfectly formed plate. A pudding of poached winter fruits with brown bread ice cream was typical of the imaginative partnering of seasonal elements.
And although Foliage is taking a new approach to lunch, it knows not to meddle with some traditions. The service is excellent.
You could eat this:
Lunch: £27 for four courses, £35 including wine. Typical dishes: sweetbreads, almonds, Serrano ham, endive; crab, avocado, pickled ginger, cucumber, braised oxtail, bacon, salsify, red wine, halibut, pumpkin, chorizo, curry velouté, beef, snails, ceps, parsnips, red wine; poached winter fruits, brown bread ice cream.
A la carte: £52. Typical dishes: slow-smoked belly of Iberico ham, date marmalade, black pudding and cauliflower cream; roast scallop salad, caramelised cauliflower beignet, cauliflower panna cotta; roast and pot roast turbot, raviolo, pork, langoustine and horseradish cream; pot roast saddle of rabbit, pithivier of wild mushrooms, asparagus, Alsace bacon and vanilla cream. Tasting menu: £55 lunch, plus wines £34; £72 dinner, plus wines £56.
Foliage, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA, 020 7235 2000, www.mandarinoriental.com
Next week, we’re dining at Tom Aikens
Audi A6 A perfect balance
When it comes to style, innovation and good taste, Audi is right at the forefront. Take the stunning new Audi A6, for example. To get to the A6, Audi filed 9,621 patents – that’s more than NASA has filed in the construction of its entire space fleet.
The patented technology you’ll find on every Audi A6 is more than just a number, though. Just like a perfect meal, each component represents years of research, testing and dedication. The result: a super sophisticated Audi.
Take the powerful and responsive TDI and FSI engines, which aim fuel directly into the combustion chamber, accurately controlling the mix of fuel and air for improved power, reduced fuel emissions and even better economy.
Just like NASA’s spacecraft, the Audi A6 features a state-of-the-art computer, which provides access to all the car’s driving, communication and entertainment systems. The patented MMI (Multi-Media Interface) allows you to control the CD player, radio, DVD navigation, phone and TV through a single screen located on the car’s central console. As you’d expect with an Audi, it’s simple to use and gorgeous to look at.
While every A6 model is an example of cutting-edge design, each one is grounded in Audi’s unique sporting heritage. Ever since the Eighties, Audi has pioneered four-wheel drive technology, and the quattro name is synonymous with winning the World Rally Championship.
To find out more, visit: www.audi.co.uk or see the Audi Channel on Sky Guide (number 884)