Adam Handling at Caxton, London


One day, I will enter Masterchef when my cooking skills are just maybe on par with the professional level. I love cooking, at the same time I love trying new restaurants and sampling and learning different cuisines. I don't have talent like Adam Handling, he was a contestant on Masterchef: the Professionals. A show for the up and coming professionals showcasing their skills and pushing boundaries and flairs. Unlike me, I am just an amateur and love eating foremost.

I never really got into watching the Masterchef: the Professionals, I am a sucker for the amateur version (and it is a better show). It was not until another blogger mentioned that we should try out Adam Handling at Caxton that with my slow train thought, to realised who he was. Handling was a runner up in Masterchef 2013, but have also won numerous other awards since. With his name hanging on the restaurant of St Ermin's Hotel in St James, one may thought this was a popular restaurant not. Location wise is not a bustling area, just across the road from New Scotland Yard so definitely in a safe hand.


What Adam showcased on the show was his own distinctive flairs and technical skills which reflects on the European menu with a touch of Japanese essence. We went for the barginous set meal of 3 course plus a glass of wine each that was booked through "bookatable".

Bread with Olive Oil and Chicken Butter

Bread came in a very small loaf, unsliced. We had to saw through the crust, I tried and struggled. I felt like needing a chainsaw for the job, so I left that job to my company Tom, from Food and Drinks Noob blog. Beside the hard crust, it was decently soft inside with a chicken butter. It tasted like chicken, chicken skin to be more precise and the thought of it is heart attacking but too precious to go to waste. Also on displayed was a Spanish olive oil for dipping, which apparently Handling produced. All I can say is I had better.

Nitro Salmon, Snow Peas, Wasabi, Blossom

Smoked Pork, Pineapple, Lovage, Parmesan

The nitro salmon was a theatrical show, spiking it with nitro smoke. The presentation was spot on, crafting a colourful mosaic. I can see the Japanese influence in this dish with the use of wasabi but I did not really get that hit of wasabi in the form of an oil with the fresh salmon and the greeness of peas. Tom's starter was interestingly covered with Parmesan snow, balanced by the smoky aroma of the pork and offseted by the sour note of the pineapple. I preferred my salmon dish. We had a glass of house wine each with it and frankly it was gone before the main course arrived.

Lamb, Artichokes, Garlic, Sour Cream

For main, we both chosen the lamb. The lamb looked tender but my first cut of it was tough, so much hard work of sawing through it that it lacked excitement. The dish was playing too safe, all classic well complimented flavour. Not much I can fault beside the meat being on the tough side.

Pre Dessert

Apple, Tonka, Elderflower, Coconut

Mandarin, Yuzu, Lime, Choux

The pre dessert was a mini wafer cone with a custard ice cream. I was left out of words with the lack of imagination. Tom had the apple dessert, which was clean and fresh. Whilst I had a giant choux filled with mandarin creme patissiere, it had a looked of a pineapple bun (bo lo baau) and a crunchy texture. It was more crunchier than a normal choux pastry. There was a lot of element to this dessert and I have to give an applaud to the sugar work, what a skillful job.

I can see the potential of Adam Handling, a very young chef with a contemporary and elegant style that has Michelin aspirations. The meal showed techniques and thoughtful combination of flavours but it just lacked excitement, and can be a bit dull within a hotel environment unless you're a businessman or a visitor in the saturated hotels area of St James Park.

Score: 3/5.



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