Why didn’t someone tell me how gorgeous Amersham is? The entire High Street is practically Grade 2 listed and this lovely, little restaurant is nestled within this old town. Chef Patron Laurie Gear has been at the helm since this opened in 2002 and received its inaugural Michelin star in the 2020 guide. The a la carte evening meal with no drinks but tea came to £68 and was definitely a meal that worked. Non-fussy dishes are prepared with good skill and to good effect with very good service. The head chef, Ben Jenkins was on hand on my visit, hosting various tables at different times, all adding to sound experience seemingly experienced by many. You know when you walk away from a place with a good feeling and are definitely happy to have visited – and this was one of those places.
The evening meal was broken down into a three-course a la carte for £55, six-course tasting menu for £65 or an 8-course tasting menu for £85. I prefered to have just my specific choices on this visit so I opted for the 3-course a la carte menu which began with black ale sourdough from Chiltern brewery, made with malt vinegar butter. The butter was a stroke of genius and the competent sourdough became an excuse to be having the butter. On a miscellaneous note, I thought the white, linen napkins were a lovely touch and complimented the rustic yet modern interior very well.
The amuse bouche was a pumpkin veloute soup with nutmeg, cream and pumpkin toasted seed. This was beautifully smooth with toasted notes as its forte and although this was the main flavour and the pumpkin was quite subtle, this was a lovely and warming start. The starter was a haddock tartare (smoked on-premises), served with pickled radish and horseradish which had an overall very good balance of heat from horseradish, sharp from the pickled radish and diced apple and sweet from haddock – a very good blend that came together well all round.
An additional salsify Lancashire bomb cheese sauce dish was tried, served with winter black truffle shavings, chopped hazelnuts, enoki mushroom, deep truffle sauce, tuiles of parsley root and parsley purée, – this was well constructed and had a rich and earthy quality, whilst the sauce itself combined with the cheese was probably reaching the limit of its salt level. The main of Douglas fir smoked saddle of Dorset venison was magnificent. The quality of the meat was super, combined with being seasoned and cooked to perfection and was served with red cabbage purée, beef dripping potato, beetroot and chervil root. Minced venison came in pastry and was a pleasing contrast in style of the main venison cuts. All the components worked beautifully on this plate, it was uncomplicated and showcased just a brilliantly handled and joyful piece of venison, which was among the best I have ever had.
Pre-dessert, was a poached pear cubes with Poire William sorbet (Poire William being a transparent fruit brandy, usually with whole pear within the bottle), with dark chocolate ganache. The sorbet was beautiful and although it was rather malleted by even the smallest of chocolate ganaches (such was the strength of the chocolate), both together are a classic combination and pleasing to have.
My dessert showed the more modern style of the restaurant and a fun addition as well. A rhubarb and ginger cocktail in a cocktail shaker was poured into a martini glass holding vanilla ice cream and that had dehydrated rhubarb and sherbet around the edge of glass. This drink was even better when the ice cream was mixed in and was still cleansing to the main element served in the bowl consisting of poached rhubarb, custard and shortbread. This had nicely judged amounts of shortbread (perfect amount) and the rhubarb was not too sharp as it often can be. The brand of coffee was bean bags, which is a blend of arabica and the somewhat industrial robusta beans. Petit fours included calamansi jelly, vanilla fudge and sea salt small treats which were pleasing to see as the artisanal finishing touch.
Overall I really enjoyed this visit and am pleased this restaurant has been included into the Michelin starred family. Aside from being a very pretty town, I was pleasantly surprised by the homely feeling of the restaurant serving genuinely skilled dishes. Aside from a tweak here or there, I walked away thinking how good it would be to come back here; something I will be doing the next time I am anywhere nearby. This is a genuine flagship restaurant of a small town.
Food Grade: 80%
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