cooking as “food people want to eat”. We’d agree and so, presumably, would all the other customers who packed out his restaurant on a wet Monday evening. There’s a single sitting – 7.15 for 8.00 – and a no choice tasting menu. Every course makes sense in itself and every course works well with those adjacent and they do it without recourse to overly cheffy bells and whistles.
There’s canapes in the lounge – a smoked cod mousse and a seaweed crisp to dunk in it; a spoon with a fine dice of lobster tartare with coriander and lime; and an apple “aero” filled with foie gras.
Of course, with any tasting menu, you have your favourite courses and others that you find less to rave about. A fennel veloute was just fab. It’d have been pretty perfect on its own but, enhanced with a few chunks of lightly smoked haddock, it was a delight.
Quail came as a Kiev, oozing a light curry butter from the crisp coating. There’s tiny new season’s peas and a little charred Baby Gem lettuce for texture contrasts. Just a lovely combination and, for one of us, the stand-out dish of the meal. That was followed by a simple, but perfectly seasonal plate of potato puree and sliced heritage carrots. And then a fish course – salmon, cooked in clarified butter in the oven – perfect flavour even if the texture was a bit mushy (as you might have got with sous vide cooking ). A tomato butter sauce worked so well.
Black Angus beef fillet provided the final savoury course. Cooked at medium rare, Blackiston extracted as much flavour from the meat as you can ever expect from usually bland fillet. Soft polenta had been given a crisp coating so that it had the overall texture of a croquette. There’s new season’s girolles – and when are mushrooms ever other than a good thing with steak. Finally, there’s a powerful, but well balanced, slick of sauce.
The first dessert combined the freshness of an elderflower sorbet with the savouriness of a cucumber jelly. Together they were just great. “Strawberries and Cream” was how the menu described the final course. But it doesn’t do justice to one of the finest strawberry desserts we recall. There’s the berries, of course. But there’s shards of meringue, a flavoured cream and a strawberry “soup”, Clever – and a total success.
Coffee was a bit thin and weedy but the chocolates, selected from a box, were excellent – one that stuck in the mind had chocolate encasing a raspberry gel.
A really enjoyable evening with service, from the young crew, being entirely on the ball.