Frog by Adam Handling, Covent Garden: restaurant review
Adam Handling's most recent venture is a masterclass in balancing the theatrical with the downright delicious, from a beautiful Covent Garden dining room and downstairs bar
What's the draw
After having left his successful self-titled restaurant at St Ermin's Hotel a few years ago (more on that later), it feels like Scottish chef and restaurateur Adam Handling is now the master of his own destiny. Frog by Adam Handling follows his first solo venture (and Foodism 100 winner) The Frog E1, building on the playful and at-times poetic food and service that has seen him become one of the key players in modern London fine dining.
What to drink
Adam provides the food, but Eve bar (geddit?) is the place to go for a pre-dinner drink or two. Tucked away below the restaurant, it carries a cheffy ethos into the drinks: the Calypso Deep is a twisted martini built with Ford's Gin, olive oil, vinegar and sherry. With its 'sea foam' top, it's crisp, herbaceous, and with a lazy, humbug-like sweetness to it. The bartender described the Red to Black as "an americano style of boulevardier" – FEW bourbon, Cocchi vermouth and Campari, with sweet cherry and savoury olive propping it up. Elsewhere, wines in the restaurant tend towards new-school – none more so than the Navazos-Niepoort 2015, a collaboration between a port and a sherry producer that tastes somewhere between a fino sherry and a vinho verde.
What to eat
If you know us, you won't be surprised to see we opted for Adam's menu – the longest of the tasting menus. The sourdough with chicken butter, one of the first dishes, is up there with Typing Room and Roganic as some of the best bread and butter dishes in London; and there are some harks back to Handling's first restaurant at St Ermin's, including 'Mother', a combination of celeriac, apple, raisin, cheese and truffle he once improvised when his mother visited, and smoked mussel served on a bed of dry ice (a trick he still can't resist). "Baked potato" – a hula hoop of gorgeous potato served with caviar (or truffle for the vegetarian option), with 'barbecue ash' and a slick of luscious chive cream – is a triumph, as is our last savoury course: a cube of lip-smacking salt beef served simply with pickles and mayo, which recalls Handling and his team's trips to Beigel Bake after service at The Frog E1. It's emotionally driven food, with theatrical service, and the end result is something truly memorable.
Adam's Menu: £95; wine pairing: £75. 34-35 Southampton Street, WC2E 7HF; frogbyadamhandling.com