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  • Visit Date: Wednesday 17th January 2024
  • Restaurant: Cycene
  • Address: Cycene, 9 Chance St, London, E2 7JB
  • Website: Cycene

Yet another place I have been saying I will come to and simply I have not had the chance until now. Cycene. I was a huge fan of Eddie and Mãos and was very sad when they closed, this was housed here at The Blue Mountain School also. Knowing that Theo had big shoes to fill, he has more than filled them since his arrival, as within six months of being open, Cycene was last year awarded a coveted Michelin star. 

On arrival, I will save you the time, and to not make the same mistake that I did which was to stand ringing the doorbell and freezing outside, only to establish that the entrance door has now changed. This one, which if you had been to Mãos before was the entrance used, but now is the exit, and just round the corner, you can find a rather beautiful new glass entrance. Which is really lovely and you enter a gorgeous earthy environment, setting the tone for more to come. 

A new look and new feel, this new entrance takes you in to a beautiful bar seating area where the first course is served. I loved eating down here and they could quite honestly do a lunch seating purely in this environment or short menu and be very successful at it too, as it’s gorgeous. I used my new toy on this evening and the videography I achieved here with better lighting was stunning. 

The first course was served here, alongside a glass of bubbles. Bread and Broth. 

A sourdough baked freshly that morning, made from spelt rye and porridge and a ten-year-old mother. Three butters to indulge in, a burnt leek, cultured butter, chicken butter, all really delicious, and I would have enjoyed more but I was very aware that I needed to pace myself for all the offerings coming upstairs. 

Furikake used for the broth, with two types of mushrooms, bronze fennel and chicken skin. Absolutely incredible. So very tasty.

Up the stairs to sit at my table, the dining room with candlelight is intimate and relaxed. First stop was for a bite in the kitchen, or should I say two bites, of blue fin tuna and to meet Theo at long last. A lovely additional surprise was to see Max who I last saw a few years before working with Gareth at Ynyshir. 

First a delicate little tartlet, with loin of tuna, topped with a jelly from a South American tea, which provided a sweet and smoky flavour, topped with fried fermented kombu and pickled elderflower.

Second bite, the tuna had been aged for seven days, it was sat on a block of warmed Himalayan salt, to soften the tuna and to season it too, Theo then brushed it with a house made brown rice ponzo, citrus soy sauce and freshly grated wasabi. Aged foie gras fat was generously ladened over the top, aged first and then melted down, shiso flowers to top and oh my goodness, just wow. A little cup housed a beautifully refreshing broth to cleanse my palate after, from all the fatty goodness.

At the table, came delicious little snacks. Lava, Herring and N25 Schrenckii caviar. Hamachi, Sesame and Pear. Duck Liver and Red Pepper, all very tasty little bites, the Hamachi was my favourite. 

Miso Linguine with a peppercorn and butter sauce and truffle, this was a changed dish for Theo as he had served me sea urchin, there was crab coming next on the menu too, both of which I am allergic to, it’s actually brown crab meat but I avoid all crab to be sure, and sea urchin as it’s so similar to the brown meat and intensity that can put my into analytic shock. As there had been an error made and my dietary’s hadn’t been advised in advance, poor Theo didn’t know any better, thankfully my ears pricked up when he was explaining the dish, and it avoided a more serious situation. He brilliantly side stepped, had to put his hand to something else instead for me, and out came this bowl of heaven as well as putting my mind at rest that nothing I had eaten so far had any crab or urchin in it thank goodness. 

Oyster, Cucumber, and N25 Oscietra next, this was utterly delicious, big meaty oyster and very refreshing.

BBQ Scottish Langoustine finished directly on the bichotan, fermented summer tomato and a tamarind sauce which had Pad Thai flavours. Absolutely loved it. 

Turbot up next, hailing from the South coast of England, from a 7 kg fish, aged for 8 days and the texture and flavour was just outstanding. It came with a seven onion sauce, this was intense with plenty of character and body to it, and then a sauce made from the bones of the fish, and sake, this provided a density to the dish, and then a Japanese bun to mop up all the umami flavours. A flawless dish. By this stage I was starting to get quite full already, so had to really pace myself. 

The duck came out and was presented by Gianluca, another surprise face, who worked previously at Claude Bosi at Bibendum, he brought the whole duck out followed by the two stages of the dish. A little bowl first of crispy skin and duck leg, plum, barley and buckwheat shoots. 

And then the star of the show and the breast with crispy skin, the meat was so tender, so perfectly cooked with love and skill, a fermented peppercorn sauce with smoked beetroot and to the side a little bite mushroom and the leg. All full of so much intensity and flavour. Really sterling cooking. 

A palate cleanser of apple, olive oil and a fried shiso lead to top. Clean and perfect and just what was needed after the duck. 

Whipped Tofu topped with a roasted crumbled koji, a pot of warm chocolate sauce, with a subtle smoky flavour as this chocolate was very special, hailing from Papua New Guinea and grown on volcanic soil, little thin waffle type crackers to scoop all the heaven up with, and the tofu was topped with Kaluga N25 caviar. The combination of these ingredients was like nothing I have ever tasted before, pure genius. I absolutely loved this, so very much and I was left thinking about it for days after, this dish has absolutely secured a spot on my top 12 dishes for 2024 already. Just sublime, not rich, almost savoury, umami, gentle earthy sweet notes. 

To finish, a delicious canelé topped with a brown butter mousse, biscuit with white chocolate fudge and fermented raspberry, Jerusalem artichoke and chocolate bonbon. I just managed a tiny bite of the canelé, because I do love them, it was excellent and that was me truly done, ready to roll down the stairs and home to be in food coma happiness. 

Final thoughts, Theo is doing utterly amazing things here. They are pushing towards two Michelin stars for certain. I loved the whole experience, service was excellent, all the team massively knowledgeable, Nico was amazing also. All heart and so much passion. The atmosphere was relaxed and unpretentious, the visiting the kitchen element and that interaction and feeling so immersed, just joyful. The cooking, the ingredients, all top notch. Loved the tuna to start, the turbot and duck was exceptional, and that dessert, out of this world. Theo pays homage and respect to allowing each ingredient to really sing. Loved it. I’ll be back.

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