In Review

Christmas at Pétrus: dine at the chef’s table

Enjoy a festive take on the kitchen dining experience

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Pétrus, Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Knightsbridge, is inviting guests into the kitchen for a Christmas meal at the chef’s table.

Seating up to eight people, the horseshoe-shaped banquette opens directly onto the kitchen, where diners can see the preparation of an opulently French festive feast.

It gets underway with a generous platter of canapes, including moreish truffled croque-monsieur and smokey, salty-sweet chestnuts. Highlights of the seven courses that follow include a ballotine of foie gras served with brioche and mint jelly, and a boisterously seasoned steak tartare.

Adrian Franklin

The set-piece, however, is roast capon, once a British Christmas staple and still enjoyed in France. The bird - a castrated cockerel, more tender and flavoursome than a chicken - is carved at the table and presented with Dauphinoise potato, an elegant sausage roll of stuffing baked in thin pastry, and carrots lovingly steeped in carrot juice at 85C for two hours to preserve and enhance their flavour as they cook.

Adrian Franklin

The dishes are presented and introduced by the chefs responsible for creating them, under the guidance of head chef Larry Jayasekara. They vie for attention with Stephen Nisbet, the head sommelier, who returns before each course to explain his pick of the 2,000 wines in the Pétrus cellar.

His goal, he says, is to show off a lesser-known side of French viticulture, and he fulfils it with a series of delicious wines from just beyond the beaten track.

For the cheese course, for example - an oozing baked vacherin with grilled sourdough - he picks a dry, light 2008 Jurancon Sec from grapes grown on old Pyrenean vines, which counters the creaminess of the cheese with a minerally rigour. A late-picked pinot gris from Alsace has the concentration and sweetness to confront foie gras, and a substantial 2014 Givry premier cru from Le Clos Salomon harnesses the piquancy of the steak tartare, restraining its spicy notes rather than drawing them out.

Puddings, by contrast, are best kept traditional, and both kitchen and cellar fall into line, delivering prune and armagnac souffle with a 2007 Rousset Peyraguey sauternes. It’s a classic combination, and a suitably rich and boozy end to a decadent evening.

The Pétrus Christmas chef’s table is available for eight guests, between 1 and 23 December, for £185 per person or £300 including paired wines

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