An Easter lunch.
Northcote’s canapes are good. OK, everything to eat at Northcote is good. In several visits over the years, I can’t recall ever having a duff dish. It’s one of those places where the kitchen wants you to eat good food and front of house wants you to have a nice time. But back to those canapes. There’s their own sausage roll – and it’s, erm, really good. As is a Jerusalem artichoke dip, with lovely crisp crackers.
The lunch menu over the weekend has had a good format. Soup to start, then four choices at each course, finishing up with coffee and Simnel cake.
In the soup bowl were some shreds of leek and some larger slivers of crisp potato skin. The soup, which is creamy leek, is poured round. And it’s a proper portion, not an amuse bouche portion. There’s a good bread selection including one we’ve had before – an outstanding Lancashire cheese one. It goes particularly well with the soup.
For a starter, there’s cod cheeks. They sit on strips of ham hock and lardo, marrowfat peas and, another regular item from Northcote, black pea houmous. The cod is topped with a bacon crumb. It’s a knockout balance of flavours and looks pretty good – but not as pretty as the other starter. That features a small “cigar” of filo, encasing Leagrams sheep’s curd cheese which is nicely tangy. A spoonful of a wetter version of the curd is milder and acts as a sauce. But it’s the scorched and then pickled vegetables that make the plate look as lovely as it ate. Cauliflower, artichoke and baby beetroot had been given a charring and then a light pickle. A bit of micro greenery and nasturtium leaves gave a delicate edge to it.
Monkfish had been given a coating of tandoori spices and then oven blasted. It was spot on for texture and flavour. A fennel coleslaw worked so well. Lightly spiced bulgher wheat made a pleasant enough carb but it wouldn’t have gone amiss for there to have been more assertive spicing. There’s also a mini-naan which I thought overly thick and doughy – the sort of naan Mum might have got at Iceland.
The other plate was almost overflowing with a classic roast beef Sunday lunch. Generous slices of sirloin, cooked as requested to medium. There’s mashed and roast spuds. And mixed veg – broccoli, green beans, carrots. Perhaps the star of the show was a half an onion which had been fully cooked (sous vide? ) and then given a charring on its cut side. It’s lovely – sweet and yet bitter from the char. It’s all set off by a gravy that was absolutely bang on.
Desserts were both good and both very different from each other. In the bottom of the bowl of one, were slices of blood orange, topped with an orange fool. That was topped with a sprinkle of lemon granita which, in itself, was topped by meringue “biscuits” – the meringue pressed flat so as to be crispy. Really good. The other plate was a chocolate and caramel tart – perfectly crisp pastry, rich filling which managed to be not overly sweet. As a balance, there’s peanut ice cream and balls of poached pear.
We had coffee in the lounge. Instead of their usual petit fours, there was slice of rich, fruity Simnel cake. And, to take away, a present from the pastry chef – marzipan and chocolate Easter bunnies. Perfect.