Guest Chef Valentine Warner Wows at London’s Parabola
There’s something exciting about entering an echoingly empty museum at night, as if you are not supposed to be there. An evening at Parabola, the restaurant in London’s Design Museum, has that same in-the-know feel about it. Not only does it feel enticingly secret, but it offers a daringly different supper club-style menu, designed by its new series of chefs-in-residence.
For March, we tried the cooking of current incumbent Valentine Warner, who prior to becoming a star chef trained in the very nineteenth-century profession of portrait painter. He was very much in evidence, resplendent and solicitous in his chef’s whites, and came over to explain dishes and determine whether we were enjoying them. His menu is full of rustic, hearty treats, reflecting that he is, according to his press kit, “always more likely to be chatting up a Greek widow for a goat recipe than talking molecular gastronomy.” We kicked off with a pick-me-up, a Hepple Gin Martini, made with Warner’s very own gin, distilled in Northumberland in the north of England. Starters were the spectacularly good yellow fin tuna tostada with chipotle and the refreshing yet earthy curried chicken livers, with cucumber salad and crème fraîche. Next was a tender octopus with cannelloni beans and red wine, and this was all accompanied by the Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne Vietti 2014, a rich, round red. As a main, we were served the confit rabbit with French fries and mustard salad, which tastes deliciously like you’ve pitched up at a particularly well-served rural French table d’hôte — especially when matched with the floral-and-almond-scented 2015 white Crozes Hermitage “Les Jalets,” from Paul Jaboulet Aîné of the Rhône Valley.
We needed something light after all that, so the pink grapefruit and Campari granita, a bittersweet shaved ice, was perfectly thoughtful. Plus it was accompanied by the Hepple Negroni. This raises the question: Why don’t more desserts come with a Negroni? It’s absolutely dazzling, and we float out of the Design Museum on a well-crafted high.
Parabola’s chef-in-residence idea is simply fabulous, and we can’t wait to see what’s up next — and it’s not the Negroni talking, we promise.
Valentine’s residency ends on March 31, but on April 28 and 29, Parabola’s head chef, Graham Blower, collaborates with Karan Gokani, known for the Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers.