In the well-trodden, well-heeled heart of Holland Park lies a secret delicious den of digestible delights: Flat Three. It would be all too easy to miss this fantastic gem if you weren’t in the know, as the only visual prompt that Flat Three is physically there at all, is a small brass plaque engraved with its name on the wonderful vintage hardwood door tucked into the corner of Holland Park Avenue and Princedale Road. If the concept of Asian-Nordic fusion is unfamiliar to you, fret ye not. We’re not about to lambaste you for your heinous oversight. It’s certainly a new one on us too, but one that we’re delighted to welcome into the mix.
Having exerted ourselves at their beautifully substantial front door (it really is heavy!), we find ourselves descending into an extremely smart and sleek Nordic-styled basement sporting an open-plan minimalist modern dining room and kitchen with the option of cosy vaulted kiosks at the back of the room. We’re greeted by a very friendly Maître d’. (You will, no doubt, be made to feel every bit as welcome as we are.)
The food is exemplary and unusual, possibly even singularly peculiar to this venue (we certainly know of no other Japanese/Nordic haute cuisine experiences in London), and whilst new mind-boggling culinary fusions are fast becoming a very evident trend, they don’t always work as well as advertised. This marriage of seemingly disparate cuisines however simply does.
We start our tasting menu with potato doughnuts: their crisp outer shell and succulent doughy inners are perfectly accompanied by a citrus soy and mustard Asian dipping sauce; exquisite. The turbot tartare melts in the mouth yet has a substantiality about it akin to scallops, it it fresh, aromatic but certainly not overpowering, and the crisp and succulent theme continues courtesy of the deliciously wafer-thin skin that accompanies this dish in a sort of piscine crackling fashion. This is washed down perfectly by a Champagne pairing.
The vegan fine dining option is demonstrated consummately with a beetroot dish of both the purple and yellow variety, served with UK-foraged greenery and a delicious smoky sauce which is so good, we want to lower the tone and lick the bowl out afterwards. The interplay of crispness and succulence again ensues via scallops and celeriac mash accompanied by al dente crosnes (which are Japanese artichokes – no, we didn’t know either!). The sea bass (paired with Omachi sake) is delectable and tender in its warming broth infused with fermented cauliflower, and the steak dish that followed is cooked to perfection (rare inside with a tantalising chargrilled exterior); accompanied by black garlic paste and pear poached in an orange jus.
Our palates are cleansed by a carrot sorbet with apple and granita, the rhubarb bergamot accompanying this giving the illusion of a subtle grapefruit flavour, which challenges the preconceptions of sweet and savoury, taste and texture. Then finally the triumph that is our dessert: a singularly ingenious chocolate fondant containing the surprise ingredient of porcini mushrooms. Go discover this unusual hidden treasure of a restaurant for yourselves! 120-122 Holland Park Avenue, W11 (0207 792 8987; flatthree.london)