Hibiscus (restaurant)

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Template:Infobox restaurant Hibiscus is a London restaurant owned and run by French chef Claude Bosi. It was opened in 2000 in Ludlow, Shropshire, and won its first star within a year, and a second in the 2004 Guide. In July 2006, Bosi and his wife announced that they were to sell the location in Ludlow and move closer to London. The property was sold to Alan Murchison, and Bosi purchased a new site on Maddox Street in London.

Bosi uses Molecular gastronomy to create some items on the menu in an effort to enhance their flavours, such as freeze-drying cabbage to create a purée. The restaurant has received mixed reviews from critics, but has been listed in The World's 50 Best Restaurants since 2010, and was named by Egon Ronay as the best restaurant in the UK in 2005. The Good Food Guide ranked Hibiscus as the eighth-best restaurant in the UK in the 2013 edition. It has also been awarded five AA Rosettes.

In 2011, Bosi started a new venture, the Fox & Grapes in Wimbledon. This new gastropub operates under the same philosophy as Hibiscus, and is a collaboration with brother Cedric and former sous chef at Hibiscus, Patrick Leano.

History

thumb Claude Bosi and his wife Claire opened Hibiscus in Ludlow, Shropshire, in 2000. The location had a 36-seat capacity,<ref name=hibiscusforsale/> and was previously occupied by a three AA Rosette restaurant called the Oaks.<ref name=top100caterer>Template:Cite news</ref> Bosi had previously been head chef and won a Michelin star at the Overton Grange restaurant, just outside the town.<ref name=top100caterer/> He had intended to open a restaurant in Warwickshire, but found the premises too expensive and purchased a 25-year lease on the former Oaks property for £40,000.<ref name=bosi2005 /> Within a year Hibiscus won its first Michelin star,<ref name=hibiscusforsale/> and at the same time Overton Grange was downgraded. Working under Bosi at Hibiscus was sous chef Glynn Purnell, who left Hibiscus in 2003 to become head chef at Jessica's restaurant in Edgbaston. Hibiscus gained a second star in the 2004 Michelin Guide.

In July 2006, Bosi and his wife Claire announced that they were intending to sell Hibiscus and open a new restaurant closer to London, or in the capital itself.<ref name=hibiscusforsale>Template:Cite news</ref> Hibiscus closed in Ludlow in April 2007, with Bosi having sold the site to fellow chef Alan Murchison for £247,500, but retaining the Hibiscus name for himself. The restaurant was renamed "Le Becasse", and underwent a £100,000 makeover before being re-opened under head chef Will Holland.<ref name=completessale2007>Template:Cite news</ref>

Bosi completed the deal in June 2007 for a new site at 29 Maddox Street in London. He intended for the new Hibiscus to be open by September, and to transfer over the style of cooking he had used in Ludlow, saying, "I'm transferring Hibiscus, not starting a new restaurant. The idea is to continue and build on what I have been doing." Purchasing and fitting out the London premises cost around £1 million.<ref name=dreamteam/>

Many of the staff from the Ludlow incarnation of Hibiscus agreed to move to London to continue working at the restaurant, including head chef Marcus McGuinness and sommelier Simon Freeman.<ref name=dreamteam>Template:Cite news</ref> Hibiscus re-opened in October 2007 in its new location after following building works and planning delays.<ref name=fails/> The interior of the London based restaurant was decorated in orange and shades of brown. The walls were covered in pale-coloured wooden panels, and a chandelier designed as a series of globes hungs from the middle of the main dining room's ceiling.<ref name=balls>Template:Cite news</ref> The handover on the first day was so tight that builders moved out at midday, and the first service was run at 7 pm that evening.<ref name=mixed>Template:Cite news</ref> The late opening resulted in the reviewers for the Michelin Guide having only a two-week window in which to re-assess the restaurant for the 2008 guide. Bosi admitted later that the restaurant was not yet up to scratch in those two weeks and agreed with the decision of Michelin to downgrade Hibiscus to a single star in the 2008 Guide. The restaurant was also given a "rising star" as one with potential to go up to two stars in the future.<ref name=fails>Template:Cite news</ref> During the run up to Christmas, the stress of serving 550 covers a week in a new location with a modified menu resulted in three sous chefs resigning.<ref name=dreamteam/>

The two-star award was restored a year later in the 2009 Michelin Guide, as had been predicted by a number of Bosi's fellow chefs including Tom Aikens, Antonin Bonnet and Richard Corrigan. Sat Bains went a step further and said "I would love to see Claude Bosi regain his second star at Hibiscus and win his third in time. He’s probably the best chef I know."

Menu

File:Bream at Hibiscus.jpg
A pan-fried bream dish from Hibiscus

The menu is created by Bosi. He has been described as an innovator and his work has been compared to that of Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck.<ref name=balls/><ref name=tatler>Template:Cite news</ref> One of the new dishes Bosi introduced following his move to London was a two-part pork dish. The first part was roasted suckling pig served with sea urchin, kohlrabi and a fondant of sweet potato. The second, inspired by his daughter,<ref name=mixed/> featured a sausage roll with a salad and a truffle dressing.<ref name=balls/> Other dishes have included roast chicken with an onion fondue and licorice,<ref name=tatler/> and desserts include a chocolate tart served with basil ice cream.<ref name=haylerreview/>

Bosi uses molecular gastronomy techniques, such as in the process for making a Savoy cabbage purée, in which the cabbage is freeze dried into a powder and then reconstituted,<ref name=balls/> but he prefers only to enhance the flavours of individual ingredients rather than changing those flavours by using unusual techniques.<ref name=worldsbest/>

Reception

Jay Rayner reviewed the restaurant for The Observer after Hibiscus moved from Ludlow to London, his first time at the restaurant. He thought elements of the meal were "very clever indeed",<ref name=starringrolls>Template:Cite news</ref> such as foie gras ice cream and a sausage roll he described as a "colossus",<ref name=starringrolls/> but that the desserts were a disappointment, calling an olive oil parfait a "gloopy mess".<ref name=starringrolls/> Overall though he enjoyed the restaurant and planned to return.<ref name=starringrolls/> Zoe Williams also reviewed the restaurant shortly after it arrived in London, for The Daily Telegraph. She enjoyed her visit, and was impressed with the unusual combinations of foods that worked together saying "the sheer expertise of taking a food with a range of flavours, and knowing it's in peak condition to meet four others ... it really is something". John Walsh also visited it, for The Independent, after the restaurant arrived in London, and gave the food four stars, and the ambience and service three stars;<ref name=balls/> Terry Durack reviewed it for the same paper, giving the restaurant 17 out of 20.<ref name=durack2007>Template:Cite news</ref>

Food critics from Time Out visited the restaurant in 2009, and were disappointed compared to their previous visit. They thought that some of the combinations of Bosi's food just did not work, but they still thought that the desserts were "faultless". Andy Hayler gave the restaurant a score of six out of ten on his scale during his November 2011 visit. While he thought the highlight of the trip was a dish of venison served with a confit of pear in mulled wine and Savoy cabbage with a red wine and smoked chocolate sauce, he felt that the food was "over-worked".<ref name=haylerreview>Template:Cite web</ref>

Ratings and awards

In 2005 Hibiscus was one of three restaurants to be awarded three-stars by the Egon Ronay Restaurant Guide, along with The Waterside Inn and Restaurant Tom Aikens, and was named Ronay's Restaurant of the Year.<ref name=bosi2005>Template:Cite news</ref> The restaurant made its first entry in the World's 50 Best Restaurants in 2010, ranked in 49th place and one of three British restaurants in the list; the following year it moved up to 43rd.<ref name=worldsbest>Template:Cite web</ref> The Good Food Guide ranked Hibiscus as the eighth-best restaurant in the UK in its 2013 guide. The restaurant has been given five AA Rosettes by The Automobile Association.

References

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External links

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