Hibiscus: Ludlow's loss is London's gain as the much-loved, two-Michelin-starred Hibiscus bursts into life in Mayfair

Hibbiscus, 29 Maddox St, London W1, 020 7629 2999

The hottest tables in town were those at the recent opening night of Hibiscus, as the two-Michelin-star Shropshire favourite made its London debut. So who were the oligarchs, A-listers and Mayfair fat cats who nabbed the 45 seats? Strangely, all but two were taken by regulars.

That the restaurant's former clientele were prepared to travel 140 miles from Ludlow to London to pay their respects says more about this restaurant than any paparazzi line-up, fridge full of foie gras or cellar of first-growths.

Ludlow's loyal devotion to Claude Bosi's cooking becomes understandable the moment a pretty little bowl of light-as-air Parmesan gougères hits the table. Here, in one bite, is the wine-drinker's perfect nibble: a golden little puffball that melts gracefully into cheesy nothingness in the mouth. Immediately, I'm thinking: Ludlow, you can't have him back.

The room apparently recalls much of the look of the original, but it feels perfectly at home in Mayfair. Confident, composed and comfortable, it comes complete with rich carpet, light-oak panelling, a sleek slate back wall and creaseless, white-linen-topped tables.

The menu, too, has mostly been transported from Ludlow, from the foie gras ice-cream with brioche emulsion and balsamic vinegar caramel to roasted suckling pig with sea urchin.

Bosi trained with France's finest, including Alain Ducasse and Alain Passard, and while his food sounds bold, show-offy and provocative, the end result is elegant, compatible and harmonious.

I adore his clever take on escabeche, an artful scatter of purple cross-sections of shimmering mackerel, blonde rounds of stuffed rabbit, pert baby leaves and paper-thin cross sections of squat baby carrot, the melting flavours linked by a drizzle of gutsy Morteaux sausage jus.

The only odd note comes with a gastropubby stack of lamb "sweetmeats", a culinary euphemism for testicles. Two finely crumbed, smoothly moussey patties perch on a chip-chop of oysters, sweetcorn and Thai curry that is a bit of a battleground.

Claire Bosi and her Ludlovian serving team have a light, less formal manner that is warmer than the French-driven equivalent. The nice-as-pie sommelier, Simon Freeman, talks me into a 2004 Leung Estate Ma Maison Pinot Noir from New Zealand at £45 from a 500-strong list with an overt French bias. It is unusually pale but delivers a serious Burgundy-like kick that suits Bosi's two-course suckling pig with its whopping £12.50 supplement.

First, the impressively tender, crisp-skinned rack of pork is inventively teamed with a lovely kohlrabi purée and the minerally notes of raw sea urchin atop a sweet potato fondant. I can't work out why sea urchin and sweet potato, but my palate doesn't query it.

Next, a golden sausage roll that is lighter, sweeter, flakier and juicier than any sausage roll previously known to man. It comes with a "brown sauce" of truffle jus and balsamic vinegar, and is wondrous, but could well be made a smaller part of the main dish without adding an awkward extra course.

Bosi's tumble of gently cooked veal kidneys is another artfully strewn composition of harmonious flavours, tossed with an enchanted forest of gnarled root vegetables, and splodges of a fresh, light goat cheese he makes himself.

It's pleasing, also, to be surprised by a dessert menu. A parfait of iced sweet olive oil and wild lime with chickpeas and dates sweetly blends ancient Middle Eastern flavour and modern technique.

Bosi is an effortless cook, instinctively knowing how to exploit natural flavour and remain in the modern idiom without being silly. The food is polished yet personal, graceful yet satiating. This is a small, fully formed, family-run restaurant of great charm. If London knows what's good for it, it won't let it out of its clutches.

17/20

SCORES:
1-9 Stay home and cook
10-11 Needs help
12 Ok
13 Pleasant enough
14 Good
15 Very good
16 Capable of greatness
17 Special, can't wait to go back
18 Highly honourable
19 Unique and memorable
20 As good as it gets

Second Helpings: More edible flowers

The Bluebell
117 High Road, Chigwell, Essex,tel: 020 8500 6282
In an area not overrun with options, this popular neighbourhood joint is a local life-saver, with its Thai fishcakes and lamb rump with parsnip purée

Rose and Crown
30 Market Place, Warwick, tel: 01926 411 117
Gavin Alcock's menu showcases ingredients from ethical producers, such as Lashford's sausages and mash, and braised Jimmy Butler's pig cheeks

The Hand & Flowers
126 West Street, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, tel: 01628 482 277
Tom and Beth Kerridge's Marlow pub has won a Michelin star for refined, seasonally driven dishes, such as red leg partridge and sea bass with puy lentils

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it