Frog by Adam Handling, Covent Garden

The Blurb

The last time I visited an Adam Handling restaurant was in November 2019, just a few months before the pandemic hit. I didn’t think Adam would be able to top my visit to Adam Handling Chelsea – it was a Sunday lunch I will never forget. But then I visited Frog, and Adam, you’ve done it again. The Michelin star restaurant is just off of Southampton Street, in Covent Garden, and I was kindly invited to dine from the new seasonal menu. The tasting menu comprises eight courses (plus all the other snacks you’re kindly given) and showcases the best of British ingredients. Adam works closely with farmers, fishermen and growers to get the best seasonal produce – there’s even a map on the menu showing you where he sources everything from. Oh, and there’s the option of wine pairing too, which we did, of course.

My recommendation? Go for a late lunch and clear your afternoon schedule. Take your time to enjoy the food, wine and ambience. We spent three hours at Frog. We talked, we ate, we drank, and sometimes we just sat in pure admiration of the chefs in front of us.

The Style

It’s a rather swanky restaurant, but not so much that you’d have to don a dress and high heels. Adam has created a luxury environment but one that feels comfortable. It isn’t a huge space but the high ceilings and open-plan restaurant make it feel bigger than it is. It’s sleek and sophisticated. Tables are black marble, walls are white, and Adam’s iconic brass lamps hang from the chef’s pass, which is open for guests to see. A few seats hug this counter, which is where we sat, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the chefs work. Breaking up the monochrome colour scheme are flowers and plants, dotted around the restaurant, as well as a few paintings. It’s not too fussy. The hero is the food.

The Crowd

Frog may be located in one of London’s most popular tourist spots but once you’re inside it feels like anything but. Sure, it’s busy, but with business women and men, groups celebrating special occasions, and couples treating themselves to an unforgettable lunch or dinner. It doesn’t feel stuffy and I didn’t feel out of place in my black boots and a summery skirt. It’s an accepting place. A welcoming restaurant.

The Food

First up, a glass of Adam’s Own Label wine, made in Kent. A lovely fresh, fruity and delicately floral sparkling wine with notes of peach, Pink Lady apples and honey, with a baked apple pastry finish – the perfect pre-meal tipple. Next, we were surprised with a selection of appetisers, which aren’t even on the menu. They were beautifully decorated with edible foraged flowers and one plate even came surrounded by whispering smoke (the dry ice technique never gets old).

We were then given our first ‘Snack’, and I’m so very glad Adam’s chicken butter and bread still graces the menu. The salty, rich butter is topped with crispy chicken skin and served with soft, warm bread. You’ll tell yourself not to fill up on bread but you’ll eat it all. Next, we had an incredibly refreshing tomato, pepper and basil dish, with delicate balls of iced bell pepper and a poached tomato. This was paired with a lovely Waterkloof Rosé from South Africa. One of my favourite ‘Snacks’ was called ‘All About the Sturgeon’. A heart-shaped sourdough waffle topped with creamy, buttery sturgeon – almost like a mousse – caviar and drizzled with maple syrup. Sweet, salty and delicious. Adam continued to amaze me with the scallop course, which was possibly the biggest, meatiest scallop I have ever seen. Served with pickled carrot, carrot purée and light foam, I didn’t want it to end. Concluding the snacks were cod with grape and lemongrass. Perfectly cooked, flaking away at the touch, and beautifully balanced with sweetness and acidity.

For the main there’s a choice of two courses: Wagyu Beef, Hen of the Woods, or Lamb, with sweetbread and morels. We had one of each and they were absolutely wonderful. Rich but not too heavy, beautiful presented of course and paired with two punchy red wines.

As someone who doesn’t have the biggest sweet tooth I actually really enjoyed the two sweet dishes. The first one, rhubarb with wasted wine, was my favourite: a slightly sour rhubarb sorbet with soft, pillowy whipped wasted wine and a crumb at the bottom for a bit of crunch. A perfect palate cleanser. The final dessert was a delicate apricot, lemon thyme and yoghurt tart-like pudding. Fresh, fruity, and intriguing. And of course, these two were paired with a lovely sweet wine.

If you still have room there is the option of a cheese course but we’d already been quite greedy enough.

In a Nutshell

What makes Adam Handling’s Frog so special, and in fact, all of his restaurants, isn’t just the food, it’s the staff. From the chefs to the waiters, and the sommeliers, everyone is a family, and this really comes through in the way they work and treat the guests. The cost of the menu is £175 per person, and wine pairing is an extra £100. There is also the option of a premium wine pairing, which is £200.

The Details

35 Southampton St, London WC2E 7HG

0207 199 8370

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