John Sutton samples the sweet and sour treats on offer at Four Seasons, in Renshaw Street
THE Chinese have neglected one or two things in their rapid rise towards superpower status over recent years.
They’ve been overrun in this part of the world by their smaller neighbours, completely eclipsing them in the Asian food marketplace.
Where once the only choice from the East was sweet and sour and from the People’s Republic, now our high streets are full of restaurants serving dishes from Japan, Malaysia and the culinary behemoth that is Thailand.
It was a case then of going for something that seemed a bit retro Oriental as Mrs-to-be and me went to the Four Seasons Restaurant, on Renshaw Street, and spotted the Chinese cuisine banqueting menu for £20.90 a head, all five courses of it.
First thing to arrive was a tureen of chicken and sweetcorn soup. Is there a more restorative broth for a fragile immune system in the depths of winter? I had nearly three bowls – they were small bowls, and I had to be reminded there was still a procession of food to come.
Next out of the kitchen, which diners can see into thanks to huge floor- to-ceiling windows partitioning the two areas, came the unimaginatively named Appetite Combination Platter.
The chicken skewers with a peanut dip were a delight, the salt and pepper ribs tender if a little heavy handed on the seasoning. There was prawn toast – a familiar Chinese tapas, and a salad of pickled vegetables. The letdown was the Siu Mai – a curious little meat-filled dumpling which unfortunately resembled a testicle in texture and gave us a taste of life as an ageing soap star or retired glamour model on I’m a Celebrity . . .