Percy & Founders has barely been open a few months and already there has been a big buzz around it. The food world was excited about Diego Cardoso’s new venture and keen to see how years of working as Angela Hartnett’s Head Chef and his Argentine background would shape the menu at this modern all-day bar and restaurant.
The venue is big and airy with lots of seating and drinking space. It feels modern, without feeling soulless and elegant but not too extravagant. Percy & Founders is centered around seasonal produce, which means with the start of a new season, comes a new menu. Autumnal food can be delightful, comforting and nostalgic and the restaurant presented an array of dishes, which were all of these things, celebrating the popular season filled with hues of dark yellows and burnt oranges.
Gamey meats, root vegetables and dark berries all feature on the list of beautiful ingredients put together to form this menu and naturally, provokes the warm, fuzzy feeling that tells us winter is well and truly underway, akin perhaps to seeing the John Lewis Christmas ad for the first time or drinking mulled wine in the freezing cold, pretending your fingers aren’t beginning to show the initial symptoms of frostbite.
There’s a way to do this kind of food without it feeling stodgy and Diego’s team seems to have nailed this. It’s hearty but not heavy, comforting but still delicate in places. Wine pairings highlighted the sommelier’s excellent skills and we were treated to a pinot blanc, a pinot noir and a delicious sweet dessert wine.
Potted rabbit with crab apple jelly and sourdough slices made the perfect starter; the depth of flavor in the meat complimented the sharpness of the jelly and the crunch of the sourdough ensured a perfect balance of textures and flavours, a theme that ran throughout the Autumn menu.
Choosing a main was tough and food envy was inevitable with so many tempting options on the menu. The venison shepherd’s pie looked like exactly the kind of dish I’d like to get cosy with on a cold winter’s night, but it was the lamb loin and shoulder with onion puree and roasted shallots, which eventually won me over.
When the mains graced our table, I found myself looking over longingly at the plate which was emitting the gorgeously rich smells of stilton and chestnuts – elements of the potato gnocchi dish. However that didn’t last long because as soon as my plate was placed in front of me, I was totally immersed in the lamb ensemble, which had been presented here. The shoulder was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the loin was served perfectly pink in generous slices. The puree had a deep onion flavor and the dark leafy kale, which accompanied the lamb, was the perfect autumn friend.
The sides were also exceptional, which included cabbage and pancetta, truffle-oil chips and honey-glazed carrots.
Dessert was a pear-based affair with rice pudding ice cream, mini meringues and a crumble topping. Tiny sorrel herbs finished it off which added a very subtle but distinctive bitterness, offsetting the sweetness of the pears and meringues. The ice cream bought back fond memories of rice pudding desserts from childhood. It was an incredible end to the meal.
Percy & Founders have pulled off something difficult to achieve. It’s a pub that feels much like an upmarket bar, serving high-end food. It has a lovely warm atmosphere and despite its expansive size, there is a coziness to the interior which is perfect for warming up on winter nights. The food was unforgettable and the staff were delightful. Diego patiently answered all of our questions about the menu, demonstrating a charisma and charm often found lacking in other top chefs. It’s a perfect spot for drinks, dinner or an over-indulgent night combining the two. The Autumn menu is available now and mains start from £14.50.