52 Weeks, 52 Dinners - Restaurant #1
Hayley Browne won our 52Weeks, 52 Dinners competition. She chose 4Fourteen as the first place to dine out on us and here she shares her experience.
4fourteen – Restaurant #1
Walking through the door of 4fourteen, the energy of this restaurant is instantly clear. High ceilings, sexy lighting and a sophisticated crowd only slightly distract from the open kitchen in the corner showcasing the well-oiled machine behind the food.
The dining space is thoughtfully laid-out: it’s a large and busy room but the bar in the middle separates tables to give a more intimate feel. Plus it’s always fun to watch your drinks being made.
Despite a solid wine list and some very tempting cocktails (I will be back for the Princess Needs a Drink!) we opted for the Sangria for 2. There was nothing cheap and nasty about this version, featuring cointreau and zino tempranillo. In fact it was so good we later went back for seconds.
The menu is designed for sharing and takes a fun twist on tradition, being categorised into Fish, Meat, Salads & Starches and Pastry. Dishes are listed by size, with price the best indication of portions. My fiancé – a dedicated carnivore – is instantly impressed with the selection.
We start with an entrée I’ve heard much about – the Chicken Wing Parfait, Crispy Tortilla and Quince Chutney. Individual boneless chicken wings are perched atop crispy tortillas, with generous dollops of parfait and quince chutney sandwiched in between. These morsels were even tastier than imagined and just the right size considering their richness; an exciting start to the meal.
Next came the Miso Smoked Salmon with Lemon Curd and Fennel Bread. At first I thought the salmon had been forgotten, but ultimately it was a game of hide-and-seek, found wrapped artfully in thin ribbons of pickled cucumber. I was pleased to discover the smokiness within the thick cuboid of salmon was subtle and did not overpower the fish. The crispy, wafer-like fennel bread and tasty blobs of lemon curd complemented it wonderfully.
Knowing pork is head chef Colin Fassnidge’s specialty, there was no going past the Suckling Pig with Prunes, Sage, Pistachio Pesto and Cabbage Salad for the main act. For serious pig fans, there were also options of a crackling starter, crumbed ears or tails. Not to mention a naughty tribute to pigs in the restrooms’ shared entry hall, which I’ll let you discover for yourself!
The suckling pig was worth the hype, cooked beautifully and served amongst a textured jungle of vegetables, prunes and chicharrón (puffed pork crackling) in a phenomenal jus that, between the two of us, didn’t stand a chance of survival. This also came with a cold side of cabbage salad, a refreshing accompaniment to the hearty meat dish.
With only enough room left for a shared desert, choosing between the Bounty and theWhite Chocolate Sandwich with Dulce de Leche was by far the hardest decision of the night. Apparently we are not the first patrons to agonise over this conundrum. Eventually we settled for the Bounty, and we were not disappointed. A deconstructed take on the well-known chocolate bar, this desert was certainly built for two. Rich chocolate mousse is speckled between truffle-coated balls of coconut, with white chocolate coconut shards strewn throughout.
We finished up with a sneaky glass of the Pedro Ximinez and a toast to the meal, which we both agreed was excellent value for the quality of food. Neither of us could commit to a favourite dish but the chicken and pork were the two finalists.
The service was also excellent. We were never left waiting between dishes, the staff were clearly very familiar with the menu and gratefully they were only too happy to answer questions.
Nearly two hours after arriving we exited with huge smiles, leaving behind the more obvious sign of our satisfaction: clean plates. I don’t think we left a single piece of food uneaten all night.
Go with someone special or better yet, several special people, so you can sample as many dishes as possible.