Frog by Adam Handling
Frog by Adam Handling
Frog by Adam Handling
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SquareMeal Review of Frog by Adam Handling

Gold Award

Adam Handling has established himself as one of the brightest young talents on the London dining scene since opening his first solo restaurant in 2016. In mood and food, this Covent Garden dining room falls halfway between his original Frog restaurant in Hoxton (the name expresses the chef’s sink-or-swim attitude) and the high-end Adam Handling Chelsea within the super-swanky Belmond Cadogan Hotel on Sloane Street. The setting is casual-contemporary, but the technique and pricing are ambitious.

Walk past at night when the restaurant’s glow spills out onto Southampton Row and you’ll be struck by the sort of convivial scene that makes you want to make a booking on the spot. The open kitchen is the focus of the dark and stark dining room, with chairs angled to give a view of the chefs toiling away and a counter for diners who want to get up close and personal with the restaurant theatre that unfolds over the course of a service.

You can, of course, ignore what’s going on at the pass and focus instead on what arrives on the plate. Start with a couple of ‘snacks’ while you peruse the menu: cheese doughnuts, like a supersize gougère discharging a warm torrent of gooey Lincolnshire Poacher, are so good we’d suggest you order a double portion.  A sphere of caviar-topped taramasalata in a flower-shaped pastry cup, and stubby little cylinders of wagyu beef with truffle, are more delicate, albeit more like canapés than snacks.  

Starters proper include lamb tartare, milder than the beef equivalent and a better conduit to show off the flavours of the herb seasoning, with salt coming courtesy of a topping of caviar. Mushroom agnolotti with black garlic, meanwhile, delivered pungency tempered by soft textures, through like the main course that followed – A5 Wagyu beef with horseradish and black mustard – the full-on umami sensation is not for the faint-hearted.

A pair of tasting menus offering the signature dishes in miniature (including stunning lobster tail and claw cooked in wagyu fat) may be a better way to get the most out of Handling’s undoubted talent for bold brushstrokes of savoury flavour.

What really made the meal for us, though, was service from a crack team of suited, booted and bearded waiters, clearly loyal to Handling and his vision, not least beverage director Kelvin McCabe, one of London’s most enthusiastic wine communicators and an expert at matching wines by the glass while accommodating diners’ vinous preferences.     

About Frog by Adam Handling

Hot on the heels of The Frog E1 in Hoxton, MasterChef: The Professionals finalist Adam Handling has opened this more formal all-day flagship in Covent Garden.

It’s clear that Handling is looking to make himself a household name – his cookbook greets you at the reception desk, his name is emblazoned on staff aprons, and the moody basement bar is themed with Adam and Eve imagery. Self-indulgence aside, The Frog’s five or eight-course tasting menu impresses with high-octane combinations, including butter whipped with chicken fat, topped with crispy chicken skin and served with sourdough, and razor clams shrouded in dry ice.

We opted for the five-course menu, starting out with impressive warm savoury doughnuts, oozing cheese and topped with shreds of earthy black truffle. Other highlights are a tender helping of Iberico pork made sharp with kimchi and smoky roasted cauliflower, and an intriguing veggie option of a papery slice of celeriac folded over apple, date, egg yolk and thick cream.

A knowledgeable and chatty sommelier explains unexpected wine options, such as the light pink, fruity number that comes with dessert. The final course is just as ambitious – a chocolate-covered marshmallow conceals bursts of raspberry with vanilla ice cream, while a mango and coconut cheesecake offers a lighter option.

Handling is also aware of the rising popularity of meat-free and plant-based diets, offering an alternative tasting menu alongside the regular offering which is entirely vegetarian. On that menu, you might come across dishes such as roasted gnocchi with squash and chestnuts, as well as a concoction involving cucumber, gooseberry, oyster leaf and dill.  

With its Instagram-baiting dishes and unique flavour combinations, it’s clear that Handling is on to a winner with The Frog, which was impressively busy on our mid-week visit. It’s safe to say that he has made the leap into chef stardom.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cuisines
British
Ambience
Cool, Fine dining, Fun, Lively, Quiet conversation, Quirky, Romantic
Other Awards
SquareMeal London Top 100
Food Occasions
Brunch, Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Counter dining, Vegetarian options
People
Celebrations, Dates, Group dining [8+], Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating

Location for Frog by Adam Handling

34-38 Southampton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7HF

020 7199 8370

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 12:00-14:30
Thu 12:00-14:30
Fri 12:00-14:30
Sat 12:00-14:30
Sun 12:00-14:30
Dinner
Mon 17:30-22:30
Tue 17:30-22:30
Wed 17:30-22:30
Thu 17:30-22:30
Fri 17:30-22:30
Sat 17:30-22:30
Sun 17:30-21:30

Reviews of Frog by Adam Handling

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12 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Graham N

26 July 2019  
Great food and service. Tasting menu good value.

Sarah P

26 July 2019  
Absolutely delicious food packed full of flavour.

Amanda F

29 June 2019  
Downstairs bar a fab way to start the evening. Cosy airy restaurant, great watching chefs cook! Then serve there course. Love tasting menu and chicken butter. Special night out.

Sian D

28 June 2019  
Wow absolutely stunning and the tasting menu is divine.

Anon

Jane Fenemore
12 April 2019  

Having seen Adam’s restaurant on Masterchef, my husband and I decided to have a day in London and have lunch at Frog. We were not disappointed. The food is delicious- we had a table overlooking the open kitchen and were fascinated by the theatre of producing amazing dishes. I had the crispy duck to start (the chicken butter with sourdough bread is something else!) Both John and I followed with pigeon which was a little underdone for my husband’s taste but for me was like velvet and I can certainly recommend it. It was accompanied with the truffle mash which was beautifully fine and for pudding we had the rhubarb. All was served with the utmost care and friendliness - can’t wait to return - I hope it’s soon. Thank you all very much. Jane Fenemore.

 

Food & Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Shelley S

31 July 2018  
Exceptional food, highly creative, and with great depth of flavour.

Michael S

15 July 2018  
Adam Handling's creative cuisine finally gets a space (kitchen and dining room) to deliver at the highest level.

Jane S

27 June 2018  
Food amazing, service fantastic, staff excellent - brilliant atmosphere can't wait to visit again.

Gary T

27 June 2018  
The full tasting menu was some of the best food i've had all year with perfectly matched wines. Service also faultless.

Shelley S

21 March 2018  
Authentic Indian fine dining.

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