For some people it's actors, for others it's footballers. But the celebs that have me fangirling? Chefs. My head almost exploded when a friend recently told me she'd lunched with Clare Smyth and had no idea who the multi Michelin-starred restaurateur was. With accolades like BCF Chef of the Year and MasterChef finalist under his belt, Adam Handling is a name well known in foodie circles. And when the opportunity to try his famous restaurant Frog arose? You bet I nabbed it.
The décor is simple at this Covent Garden restaurant - everything is practical and has a purpose; from the giant jars of kimchee and pickles lining the kitchen wall to the giant decanters behind us. Leaning into Handling’s focus on sustainability, the interior echoes the minimal waste ethos . Welcomed with hot towels and a chair for my bag, we settled into our seats in front of the busy, open kitchen for lunch.
Along with the tasting menu (£175 per person), we were in for a treat with wine pairings (£175 per person). As we eyed a Champagne trolley making its way to a table nearby, the sommelier poured a glass of Adam’s own label sparkling wine from Kent, from the ‘effervescence’ section of the menu. First up on the food front: four snacks. The chefs breakfast saw a porcelain egg cup sitting in a nest of dry ice, with meaty clumps of bacon offset by a lurid green sauce and creamy mouthfuls. Next, a perfectly moulded black disc topped with flowers and lined with a creamy fish paste. There was also a delicate cylinder of water-thin pastry filled with meat and garnished with teeny tiny orange petals. Finally, over to a stunning mini tart which encompassed glossy spheres of cucumber, a light whipped cream, and globs of caviar.
Inspired by Handling’s memories of leftover roast chicken, the next round saw dishes arriving on rustic, wooden receptacles and finessed with pampas. A freshly baked roll was matched with chick’n parfait, a chicken wing stuffed with tarragon and finished with a glossy glaze, and the iconic chicken butter which was generously dredged in shards of crispy chicken skin. A tad saltier than the serving I’d tried at the old Hoxton restaurant a few years back, it wasn’t quite as perfect but still positively groan-inducing. With a couple of glasses of the house Champagne to wash it all down, we were in living the high life.
Sitting by the kitchen here felt like we had front row tickets to a show. The presentation was on point, with every single dish created ever so precisely. You can see the handiwork of each stage; from spooning veg to propping slivers of pastry up high, or meticulously placing flowers, herbs and caviar on tiny molecules of gel. Tomato gazpacho, which utilised all parts of the vegetable, was decorated with a dehydrated tulle made from the vegetable skin... so intricate that it resembled a veggie lace. Even the waffle was a cute one; shaped as a heart and layered with caviar, cream and maple syrup. Somehow oddly satisfying and dainty at the same time.
I could go on and on about the dishes that came next… stunning wagyu beef plated as if it were an artwork and washed down with a glass of wine; lemon tart furnished with globs of apricot gel, baby herbs, miniature flowers and a tangy thyme sorbet. But you'd really need to taste them for yourself. Combined with faultless service and flowing, quality drinks, this was a gorgeous menu that I'd recommend time and time again.
The DesignMyNight Digest
This tasting menu might not be the cheapest, but it certainly won’t leave you disappointed. A great option for celebratory meals or special occasions, Frog by Adam Handling proves why it's such an acclaimed restaurant. As much a theatrical experience as the West End shows within walking distance, the open kitchen and its expert chefs will make you appreciate every bite.
💰 The damage: £175 tasting menu, plus £100 for matching wines per person.
📍 The location: between Covent Garden Market and the Strand.
👌 Perfect for: a meal to remember.
⭐ Need to know: ask for a table by the kitchen, watching the chefs prepare each dish is a real treat. And when you're done, hit up Eve downstairs for cocktails.