There is nothing better than discovering a new restaurant that you instantly fall in love with. This year for my birthday we headed to bustling Covent Garden for a meal at Frog by Adam Handling. I had no real expectations so was wonderfully surprised by this 40-cover restaurant with its plush furniture, immaculately polished cutlery and wine glasses as slender as filo pastry. It may have been fine dining but there was not a whiff of stuffiness, and even tablecloths are forbidden.
We started our evening in the bar downstairs called Eve, Adam’s first foray into the bar scene. We enjoyed a couple of cocktails in the subterranean surroundings before heading up to the restaurant. The open plan kitchen is the first thing that catches your eye, with a marble-effect bar running along its entirety and copper ceiling lamps that act as the heated pass. The kitchen looks calm and collected at all times – which it needs to as all the tables are strategically positioned so that all eyes fall on the masters at work. We had perfectly positioned table and I was mesmerised watching the chefs meticulously perfect each dish.
We opted for the five-course tasting option with paired wines, which starts off with appetisers, which could easily of been mistaken for the starter. From the amazing looking smoked mussels with red onion and herbs to the delicate smoked cod and caviar crispy bite-sized roll, it paved the way for the style of cooking Adam Handling and his team are famed for; intricate, masterful and often unexpected, it is wonderfully weird. Chefs are each dressed in pristine whites and in turn present various dishes at the table.
Celeriac, date, apple and fresh truffle was a light, simple, yet enriching starter. Each course comes on a beautiful handcrafted-looking dish and many are very theatrical with the use of dry ice and edible flowers. Next came the famous chicken-flavoured butter with sourdough – and this is where I had to use all the self control I had to save some space for the next courses. This was followed by mushroom agnolotti, bone marrow and black garlic, which set the bar high for the courses to come. One of our favourite dishes from this menu was the Cod, smoked eel, brown shrimp and kohlrabi, which was just incredible. The final dish before the sweet was lamb wellington, carrot and mint and was so tender and satisfying it didn’t matter if we were starting to fill up, it was too damn interesting to not finish. A choice of two desserts followed with us opting for one of each, the apple, yeast and fig leaf and the rhubarb, juniper and creme fraiche, both presented like a work of art.
The dining experience dazzled my taste buds and whichever menu you decide upon you’re certainly in for a real treat. Staff are attentive yet not intrusive, the sommelier really knows his stuff and I loved the attention to detail from the cutlery to the enthusiastic explanations of the dishes table-side by the chefs. I had a truly lovely evening and will definitely be returning.
After starting his career as Gleneagles’ first ever trainee chef and winning Scottish young Chef of the Year 2011, Dundee-born Adam Handling reached the final of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2013. In June 2016 he opened his funky Shoreditch restaurant The Frog E1. Just over a year later and Adam has launched his new flagship restaurant, Frog by Adam Handling, on Southampton Street just off the Strand in Covent Garden.