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Richard Siddle: Quince with Silvena Rowe, restaurant review

Published:  12 June, 2011

If you're the kind of person who can never make up their mind what to eat in a restaurant, then you might want to give Quince with Silvena Rowe at the helm a wide berth.

If you're the kind of person who can never make up their mind what to eat in a restaurant, then you might want to give Quince with Silvena Rowe a wide berth.

The menu here is intriguing, mouthwatering and baffling all at the same time. It contains dishes and ingredients you may never have even heard of. Even ones that appear straightforward, like lamb cutlets, still throw in a surprise ingredient, like za'atar, to throw you off your guard.

But for those looking for a completely new West End eating experience then beat a track to Quince before the critics have had chance to stimulate the nation's taste buds with their reviews.

Quince is like a mini Tardis capable of transporting you to another place and time. Be prepared to take a trip back to the Ottoman Empire or the shores of Istanbul.

But it is also refreshingly homely, approachable, easy to understand food. The kind of dishes you think, with the right ingredients you could try and cook at home.

The indecisive amongst you will be pleased to hear the opening dishes are meant to be shared. You can rake your pick from the likes of: whipped avocado and tahini with black sesame and coconut dukkah; velvety hummus, sauteed king prawns with sumac and Aleppo chilli butter; Börek 'cigars' made from seven spice, slow cooked lamb shank and baby spinach in crispy filo pastry; or Aubergine lightly smoked with tahini and pomegranate; and whitebait with sumac and cumin crusted, with green chilli mayonnaise.

Before moving on to the main events that include Ottoman spiced cutlets, tahini and black truffle, za'atar; king prawns in pomegranate butter, anise flowers; a blueberry and coriander molasses glazed belly of pork; 45 day aged Côte de boeuf with oregano and black sesame za'atar salt and Quince marmalade; lamb and beef skewers, Ottoman spices, pistachio, spinach tzatziki; 12 hour, slow cooked Ottoman style shoulder of lamb and rosemary salt;
or a half corn-fed chicken roasted with garlic, za'atar and cumin salt.

Fish dishes include Island of Ghia halibut, a grilled golden five spice halibut, with everything green, flowers and green harissa, or a whole sea bass grilled with oregano za'atar and fennel tzatziki. Hungry yet?

The wine list is a little more familiar. The only nod to the Middle East is a wide selection of vintages from Chateau Musar in Lebanon. We tried a beautifully versatile 2004 rosé, which had the depth and freshness to pair with our collection of starters that ranged from prawns to lamb via hummus and aubergine.

But with the likes of supermarket familiar Errazuriz and Villa Maria on its list it is far more easy to navigate than the menu. Which is probably why Quince does not currently have a sommelier (but could be looking in the future).

But it nicely brings affordable wines from around the world under headings that combine taste prompters with the most recognisable varietals.

The cocktail list has far more of a Middle East influence. Its long list of exotically crafted Martinis would make even the bar staff at Dukes dizzy. More smoothie like in texture they combine ingredients such as apples, pears, and yes even quince.

If you can't afford to get to Istanbul and its like this summer, then head round the corner from Green Park and let Quince make that journey for you.

Quince with Silvena Rowe
Mayfair Hotel
Stratton Street