When the idea of a Pop-Up restaurant comes to my mind, I admit my thoughts are not always the best, inexperienced cooks from a reality show, dishes with little content in substance or flavor, not very adequate work conditions, among many things that make me feel reluctant about this type of project.

However, in 2014, the cousins Ollie, Will, Ed, and Anna Templeton decided to revolutionize this practice, opening the Carousel, a restaurant with all the capacities, promoting in a curatorship style, the residence of different chefs for dinner at every two weeks. It’s like finding a new restaurant every time, but instead of an inexperienced young person who decided to change his life after a Gordon Ramsey show, we have young chefs on the top of their games, some already with restaurants in different parts of the world, others beginning their projects in London, using this space to present and test themselves, chefs like the Portuguese Leonardo Pereira or Elizabeth Allen, who was preparing to open a new restaurant after conquering a Michelin star at Pidgin.

With its location two steps away from our hotel – Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill (see) – and although not getting a table to dinner, we went to taste the lunch menu created by Ollie Templeton, based on seasonal products, and the offer of the day.

The room is rustic and industrial, quite contemporary, with wood giving some comfort and the long shared tables indicate that here you won’t just have a meal, but a tertiary, with confraternization and discussions among guests.

To start we are awarded with one of my favorite moments, the bread (in London, at least, ’cause in Portugal the good bread is rare), and what a great Sourdough it was, from the famous bakery Bread Bread, served after a second cooking already at the restaurant, good texture, aroma, and flavor. I could stay here without anything else, proving that in the end, I’m an easy to please man, I just need the best, as Sir Winston Churchill would say.

The delicious bread from Bread Bread, served with olive oil and salt flower 

Watercress Salad, apple, nuts and burnt butter vinaigrette
We started with a light salad with all the elements in the right proportion and nicely paired. The detail of the caramelized onion and the flavor of dry fruits of the butter elevated the dish to more than a simple salad. Nice start!

Mussels, artichoke, and toast 
The bread appears once again, this time in a dish, which is always a good harbinger. A bold combination of flavors and textures, of Earth and Sea, with the mussels and the artichoke, that could’ve been memorable if it wasn’t for the acidity, a bit too high, making it a bit difficult to taste all the game present in the dish.

Cavatelli, cuttlefish, and gremolata 
I won the day with this dish, the comfort food of the Italian nonnas here very well represented. Al dente pasta, with good flavors, delicate and tasty sauce with the cuttlefish ink, the mollusk with the right texture. The gremolata brought an interesting freshness. A great dish, here and in every part of the world!

Iberian pork “Presa”, parsley and shallot pickles 
I’m one of those who likes to have my pork very pink, rare, a crime some may say, an insult to public heath, but the reality is that things aren’t already that linear. This to say that even for me, the center of this piece was too rare. Delicious and tasty meat, worthy by itself and just suffered a bit for that detail (maybe in London they like it even rarer than me). Interesting also the contrast with the pickle and the freshness of the parsley, and of course the bread, that pleasantly replaces any sides the meat could have.

Grapefruit Pie
Delicate, fresh and buttery filling, with a velvety creaminess and texture, worthy of highlight, contrasting with the thin cover of burnt sugar and the base. A simple, tasty and not very sinful ending!

Accompanying the meal was, and very well, an alvarinho, a Albariño Zarate 2015, from Rias Baixas, which acidity and minerality were of highlight. An alvarinho of great elegance and freshness that went really well with the simplicity and freshness of the meal.

A remark also to the wine list, based majorly in small international producers, with Vitor Claro and his elegant wines from Alentejo representing Portugal.

The service, as expected from this type of space, was informal, caring and relaxed. I must say the nice employee conquered me right away from the readiness she replaced my bread basket!

Final Remarks 
The Carousel project was born to bring a bit of theater and cinema to the Londoner restaurant scene, creating a concept where it is possible to reserve a ticket to a different dinner every two weeks in their website, with different teams, and very different cuisines and flavors, always with that same cozy and familiar room. It’s a niche project, for sure, but one worthy of accompanying, praising and taste at each new residency, where every presence of a different chef revolutionizes a bit the world of gastronomy. At lunch, the menu brings the simplicity and respect for good products, allied to correct prices without the usual excesses of the area it is inserted in. A safe value, for a comfortable lunch and unpretentious!

In our case, we just have to come back during one of the residencies, who knows of a young Portuguese talent!

Average price:
Lunch – £20 without wine or fees 
Dinner – with a £40 ticket per person, without wine or fees
71 Blandford Street, Marylebone – London
+44 020 7487 5564

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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