I’m going to be laid up for a few weeks after an operation so “dinners out” are going to be a rarity for a while. So, we decided on a visit to our favourite Michelin starred place in the northwest before that. As always, it was an enjoyable evening – I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad dish here, let alone a bad meal. We ordered the five course set “Gourmet” menu – a pared down version of the seven course tasting menu. It’s Modern British cuisine at the absolute top of its game.
There was a little belter of an amuse bouche – goats cheese brulee. Cheese mousse, nicely goaty,with a little brulee topping adding crunch and sweetness. A couple of almost raw broad beans worked well. Well, it was a belter if you like goats cheese – my companion in life doesn’t – so that’s two for me then.
I think my favourite course was the starter. Marinated cherry tomatoes, tasting just of tomato like you get in Mediterranean countries not Northern Europe. A sprinkling of nasturtium leaves for pepperiness and, on the side, a two bite crumpet.
Next up, a slice of veal liver. British produce here , of course – none of the dubious farming ethics of some of our European neighbours. Thyme is a predominant flavour and there’s crisp sweet/sour slices of onion. Then a fish course, a small fillet of John Dory, with a scattering of clams, cubes of Bramley apple and crisp bacon of pancetta. Really well conceived dish this one – sweet, sharp, fruity, soft, crisp – I managed to get all those on one forkful.
For the main course, there was a small piece of rare breed pork (dunno which breed) which had been smoked before being briefly cooked. Not sure what cut it was but it was a bit chewier than you might have expected. Alongside, there was a thck slice of barbecued peach and a spoonful of peach puree. By way of contrast to the sweetness, a tiny pickled carrot and, perhaps the best thing on the plate to my mind, a spoonful of black garlic puree.
Dessert was a quite clever combination of strawberry mousse encased in white chocolate with thin slices of intensely flavoured dried strawberry and very thin wafers of “shortcake”, into which strawberry seeds had been baked, giving a bit of texture contrast.
To conclude, coffee was good. Petit fours were also good – chocolate truffles and a signature single bite Eccles cake.
I don’t drink alcohol but my companion in life does and often takes advantage of a wine pairing deal with meals like this. It was declared a success with the five courses being matched with a Lebanese rose, Alsace Gewurttraminer, Californian chardonnay, Beaujolias and an Australian moscato. Service throughout was on the ball as always – it’s one of those places where you’re not going to be rushed but there’s no finger tapping waiting for something to happen - everything happens just as it should.