Flavour of the moment: a review of Carousel London

Words by
Flora Drummond-Smith

12th September 2018

Hosting an ever-evolving line up of exciting chefs from top restaurants around the world Carousel London, located in Marylebone, takes diners on an adventure

Located just off Baker Street, aptly named Carousel hosts an ever-rotating chef programme, meaning every visit to the bijou restaurant is an exciting, exploratory experience.

Founded by the Templeton cousins, the restaurant aims to allow diners to travel and broaden their horizons through diverse dishes and culinary concepts created by talented chefs from all over the world.

The Carousel sign
The Carousel sign

The Carousel sign

Ironically though, when I visit guest chef Palmiro Ocampo (ex-Noma) who was lined up to cook up a no-doubt tantalising zero-food-waste menu of plates such as clam tiradito with beef tongue, sweet potato and smoked leche de Tigre, Bellaco bone marrow and ‘rescued lemon’ skins stuffed with fermented yucca ice cream and verbena leaf, pulled out due to visa issues. So to fill the void, head chef and co-founder of Carousel Ollie Templeton (ex-Moro) stepped in to fill Palmiro’s place serving up a seasonal menu similar to the restaurant’s popular lunch menu.

Upon arrival we get down to the hard stuff – sampling a couple of Carousel’s signature cocktails before taking a seat at the long wooden communal tables for dinner. The Pale Lady Negroni, a lemon yellow negroni is well rounded yet sweeter than the classic take on the cocktail, while the Carmen Miranda Sour is clean with notes of blackberry, lemon and pretty with heart-shaped swirls of Angostura bitters on the egg white foam.

Grilled cucumber and sea arrowgrass
Grilled cucumber and sea arrowgrass

Grilled cucumber and sea arrowgrass

A plate of Bean Escabeche with fennel swimming in oil and mustard with a kick of chilli is a punchy opener but it nicely balanced with a silky smooth, whipped chicken liver parfait with crusty brown sourdough – so good I would have been happy to forgo the rest of the dishes for an extra serving. A dish of lightly grilled cucumber and sea arrowgrass follows, creamy and zingy it was a treat with the wine pairing – a tart and cloudy raw, cold-fermented Italian prosecco.

With such beautiful, fresh ingredients it would be easy to ride on the ‘seasonal produce’ label. But Templeton does not rest on his laurels and produces inventive dishes such as a small main of Pollock that combines tart gooseberries with tangy jalapeños and radishes. A tiny plate of rigatoni is perhaps too thick and floury but it is just a carrier for the robust sauce of spicy sausage, coriander, tomato and confit garlic sprinkled shavings of pecorino.

Majoran and fermented tomato chicken
Majoran and fermented tomato chicken

Majoran and fermented tomato chicken

Then comes a bright, egg-yolk orange plate of majoran and fermented tomato chicken with a supporting side of berlotti beans and sliced fennel. A glass of New Zealand pinot noir aromatic with notes of pine and eucalyptus is an unusual wine pairing but encapsulates the adventurous spirit of Carousel.

Continuing in this explorational spirit, pudding is wild strawberry ice cream with a caramelly pineapple weed grenache. Light and woody, it is served with a deep red strawberry and Campari digestif and is an excellent end to a superb dinner. 

Whether a guest chef is in residence or not, Carousel is well worth a visit. Over the next couple of months the restaurant will host Palestinian chef Joudie Kalla (18-22 September), siblings Josh and Holly Eggleton from 200 year-old Somerset pub The Pony & Trap (2-6 October) and chef Antonieta ‘Neta’ Fernandes Manhão from Hong Kong (9-13 October) whose menu will combine the cooking styles of Portugal and China with the flavours of Africa, India and South East Asia.

Strawberry ice cream with pineapple weed grenache
Strawberry ice cream with pineapple weed grenache

Strawberry ice cream with pineapple weed grenache

For more information, or to book, visit carousel-london.com