Located in the heart of London West End, Frog Covent Garden is Adam Handling’s flagship restaurant and one that has long been on my list to visit. If you don’t know who Adam Handling is, he was a finalist on Masterchef: The Professionals and is a renowned chef & restauranteur in the UK. In Adam’s words, “frogs live in water, so they are either going to sink or swim. Frog is what I will call my restaurant, as this is my test”. It’s safe to say that the frog swam its way to becoming a highly acclaimed restaurant in London. In 2022, Frog by Adam Handling has reached a huge milestone of snatching its first Michelin Star!
I was waiting for a special occasion to visit Frog by Adam Handling but it ended up an impromptu one with a couple of friends. We were lucky to find a table available on a weekday evening and managed to make a reservation just a few days beforehand. The pretty flowers adorning the restaurant facade and swanky interiors are set to charm you from the get-go. There is a surprisingly laid-back feel to the restaurant. Each table faces the bright & spacious open kitchen where you can enjoy the spectacles of the chefs working their magic for the evening. For me, it’s all the little details that made it all so enjoyable, whether it be the hot towels upon arrival or the little chair offered for my bag, as well as the amazingly friendly service from the staff.
Frog Restaurant: Michelin Star Sustainable Zero Waste Contemporary British Fine Dining
Frog’s menu is inspired by London itself, sprinkled with theatrical fun, to come up with the innovative contemporary British menu. London is a hugely diverse city and you’ll find a lot of influences from other cuisines, especially those from the Far East. Each dish on the menu is attached with an emotional element. They either speak of Adam’s childhood memories or travel stories, creatively expressed through food.
Additionally, the restaurant prides itself on its zero-waste ethos. This is reflected in every dish served for the evening where every part of the ingredients is utilised throughout the entire menu, including trims, off-cuts, and any parts that are typically thrown away. Everything is meticulously thought out to minimise any food waste.
Frog by Adam Handling Taster Menu (£175)
Frog Restaurant has confirmed that they serve halal meats. Please make a note on your booking to ensure the restaurant can cater for you on the day of your visit. We recommend you always double-check beforehand as the menu is always changing. Upon arrival, I was reassured again that they have noted down my halal requirements and made sure there was no pork and alcohol present in any of my dishes & sauces.
Date of visit: January 2023
- Snacks to Start (Maitake Egg, Pumpkin Tart & Cheese Doughnut, Crispy Black Cod Skin Cracker, Kimchi Beef Tartare)
- Bread & Chicken Butter
- Tomato, Pepper, Basil
- All About The Sturgeon
- Lobster, Carrot & Chilli
- Cod, Grape, Lemongrass
- Halal A5 Wagyu Beef, Black Garlic, Wild Herbs
- Citrus Sorbet
- Baron Bigod, Truffle, Honey, Dundee Cake
- Petit Fours
- Olive Oil Madeleines
Snacks to Start
The meal started with a bang with this prettily presented Maitake Egg, which came along with some dry ice theatrics. This dish has got a Japanese influence written all over it. It certainly resembled a classic Japanese steamed egg, but with more sophistication and a light smoky touch (both literally & flavour-wise). The flavours were delicately savoury and well-balanced, with a custardy yet light & airy texture.
The original dish has bacon bits in it but, obviously, they’ve omitted that for halal dietary requirements.
Pumpkin Caviar Tart & Truffle Cheese Doughnut
Next up we had the pumpkin caviar tart & Adam’s signature cheese doughnut. Personally, I don’t really like anything pumpkin. But I was surprised to find myself somewhat enjoying this tartlet despite it being pumpkin-flavoured – so that’s positive. As for the signature cheese doughnuts, they have charmed us with their choux-like texture. I didn’t quite find it cheesy per se but have thoroughly enjoyed the light truffle flavours. I was surprised to find it generally quite light to taste compared to what other reviews have described from previous versions of these cheese doughnuts. All in all, it was a good snack.
Crispy Black Cod Skin Cracker
Then we move on to these very prettily presented crackers, perfectly moulded and elegantly topped with tiny marigold flowers. These crackers are made with dried cod skin and whipped cod’s roe emulsion. Upon the first bite, this immediately felt like a spin from a seaweed cracker. It’s got that savoury seafood taste laced all around it. Interestingly, it sort of reminded me of certain childhood snacks from Asia, but with more finesse. I’m sure that wasn’t the original intention but that’s my personal experience with this dish.
Kimchi Beef Tartare
Saving the best for last, the kimchi beef tartare was my personal favourite from this snacks course. It uses aged Highland Wagyu beef, dressed with pickles, capers, chives & chilli before being wrapped in a Feuille de brick tube and finished with a kimchi emulsion. The flavours really perked up and offered a mouthful of umami. The layering of textures was fantastic, with a light crunch on the outside enveloping a buttery sensation from the filling.
Bread & Chicken Butter
Proceeding to the next course, we were served the signature chicken butter & bread. This course is said to be inspired by fond memories of family Sunday roast chicken. Between the three of us, we were given two large sourdough loaves, served with a chicken stock-infused butter topped with crispy chicken skin, chicken liver parfait, and chicken wings stuffed with chicken & tarragon mousse.
Starting with the sourdough, it was freshly baked to perfection with a beautiful crust and a wonderfully airy texture. There was a subtly sweet undertone and apple note, which paired well with the savoury chicken butter. With the hype around the chicken butter, I must say I was expecting more of an oomph and an explosion of flavours. The chicken butter was richly savoury and certainly a unique creation. It must have been the little touch of chicken gravy and the crispy chicken skin topping as it was almost like tasting a whole roast chicken in the form of butter! Without a doubt, it was an interesting one but it just didn’t pop out as much as I thought it would. Personally, I enjoyed the chicken liver parfait more and smearing a mix of both onto the bread.
Lastly, the course also involves chicken wings stuffed with chicken & tarragon mousse. The meat was really tender and lightly seasoned with fresh herbs. In contrast to the chicken butter & liver parfait, the flavours were much subtler. Whilst it was nice, it was also a relatively easily forgettable one from the menu.
Tomato, Pepper, Basil
After all that savouriness from the chicken butter course, it certainly calls for a palate cleanser before moving on to other courses. This tomato, pepper & basil dish was the perfect one that hits you with a refreshing zing to reset your taste buds. There is this iciness from the tomato that just gives you a sharp reset. It wasn’t my favourite but it was a very intriguing dish. My favourite part was the gorgeous vegetable skin tuille on top, which looked like it could be an art piece on its own.
All About the Sturgeon
Next up was The Sturgeon, consisting of a heart-shaped waffle topped with caviar, sturgeon emulsion, and drizzled with maple syrup upon serving. This dish uses all of the sturgeon fish. After extracting the delicate caviar, the remaining fish meat was cured and hot smoked before being beaten through fermented cream. It was certainly a very playful and intriguing mix of salty, fishy, and sweet flavours. The fishly flavours mainly came from the fermented cream whilst the caviar added a bit more buttery richness. I really appreciated the maple syrup to balance out the fishy flavours which could otherwise feel just a tad bit overwhelming.
Lobster, Carrot & Chilli
Talk about the perfectly cooked lobster tail, Frog by Adam Handling has certainly nailed it down to a tee. The lobster was cooked perfectly with a tender al dente bite and still lightly opaque at the centre. Its flavours were light and mild, with a delicate natural sweetness that’s complimented by the foamy lobster sauce on top. It is one of those where every component of the dish just made sense and formed the perfect harmony of flavour combo.
Cod, Grape, Lemongrass
For the last of the seafood dishes, we were served cod cured with seaweed, which is then steamed to perfection and served with a foamy lemongrass sauce. It is also topped with a unique seaweed cracker that’s made from dill emulsion & English caviar. With the tiny compressed BBQ green grapes dotting around, the cracker resembled the look & feel of a coral reef. After finishing the cracker, it reveals a very meaty medallion of cod, cooked flawlessly to the utmost perfect texture. I’ve always adored lemongrass flavours so the sauce was a beautiful cherry on top.
Halal A5 Wagyu Beef, Black Garlic, Wild Herbs
We have finally reached the final savoury course and it’s this showstopping A5 wagyu. Usually, you get to pick either the venison or the wagyu beef, where the latter is at a supplement of £25. But since the venison isn’t halal, you can choose either the vegetarian main or the wagyu beef without having to pay extra. In this case, it’s an absolute no-brainer to get the wagyu!
A5 Wagyu denotes the top grade of all Wagyu beef produced in Japan and its supreme quality has really shone through at every single bite. That umami buttery flavour and tenderness are second to none. It has certainly left me wanting more, to say the least. It was recommended to finish off the dish by picking up & tasting the garden herbs with your hands. Personally, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the grassy taste of the herbs but, that aside, the dish had been impeccable.
Now we finally move on to desserts and were served with this citrus sorbet as a pre-dessert palate cleanser. The original concept of this sorbet is to top it off with wasted wine foam, but that was obviously omitted for halal dietary requirements.
The sorbet was incredibly refreshing and zingy to taste. Its smooth texture was complemented by the popping candies at the bottom, which not only adds a contrasting crunch but also a sharp citrusy oomph at each bite.
Baron Bigod, Truffle, Honey, Dundee Cake
As for the main dessert, I had the Baron Bigod cake with honey & truffle, which was essentially like a very rich cheesecake. The honey and truffle were drizzled and shaved, respectively, in front of you upon serving. I must say they were very generous with the truffle, which was a total delight and contributed to the decadence of the cake. Baron Bigod is similar to Brie but with a deeper and earthier flavour. It may not seem like a big cake but it was rich enough to make a decadent finishing touch for the entire evening.
Just before getting the bill, we were served petit fours to wrap up for the evening. The petit fours came presented in a lovely box and consisted of chocolate frogs, choux, yuzu & rhubarb jelly, and chocolate bonbons. I didn’t try the jelly, which resembled a sour cherry candy by looks. But all the other three had been delightful and make great pairings to a cup of tea or coffee.
Olive Oil Madeleines
Last but not least, everyone receives a little pouch of an olive oil madeleine to take home for breakfast the next day. We didn’t expect this so it was certainly a lovely final touch. I enjoyed the madeleine a lot the following morning. It’s got a beautiful syrupy glaze all over it, lightly sticky to the touch, but with just the right amount of sweetness to taste.
Restaurant Review Summary
Without a doubt, it’s been a lovely experience to dine at Frog by Adam Handling. The thoughts & details behind the menu were spectacular and certainly Michelin-worthy. Though whilst I’ve enjoyed the food, for the price, I was hoping to be blown away more. The tasting menu alone is £175 and then there’s a £4 standard fee for water (still/sparkling, no tap available). Adding on the service charge, you are already looking at £200+ per person, and this has yet to include any additional drinks. As such, I was expecting to be completely knocked off my chair for the food. But it wasn’t the case. It was good but not eye-wide phenomenal for that price tag. Therefore, in all honesty, I do think this is too pricey for what it is.
This is not to say it’s completely not worth it. It still has an amazing food concept, outstanding service where they’re all incredibly professional & friendly without any hint of stuffiness (like some other fine-dining restaurants do), and a great overall ambience. They are, in fact, the most expensive one-starred Michelin restaurant in London so perhaps save this only for a very special occasion.
Looking for more halal-friendly fine-dining restaurants? Check these out too:
Tel: 020 7199 8370
Nearest station: Covent Garden