Long standing and popular Michelin starred restaurant by renowned and national food treasure Glynn Purnell - without question a fun menu
What a great place to go. For two reasons: a) the theatre and fun level of the menu served is perfectly evident, and b) it also hasn’t forgotten the appeal of having a more economic set menu at lunch which, I have no doubt will be done exceedingly well based on the tasting menu I had here on this occasion (at the 10 year aniversary point of the restaurant). As usual, this latter point of the price does not come in to the nominated food grade (but is a factor naturally on overall written up thoughts) and the design and flavours were easily in the stronger end of the 1 Michelin starred family; based on Glynn Purnell’s universal plaudits and veteran status within the UK I was very pleased to see it confirmed in the flesh when experienced. The biggest indicator of it being good for me is the fact that I instinctively wish to go back and it is very much recommended, especially for more romantic occasions – you are in good service hands here t’boot.
A place is seldom how you expected it to be in your mind I thought on entering. The open bar lies before you virtually as soonas you enter and the hallway leading to the lavatories has a pleasant lighting effect with sounds of birds whisteling in a forest. Once inside the bright restaurant, the modern design is obvious (similar to that of Northcote and Adams I thought) which may not be to traditionalist taste, but for romantic and perhaps quieter occasions it fits the bill well. As usual, once more diners are placed and the wine flows more, the quiter and more careful feel is replaced with more filled atmosphere.
Service throughout was very good and the ‘Faux’ nibbles came with black canary potatoes with chorizo, cod skin crackers and a delightful cauliflower cheese emulsion. All of these were interesting, light and tasty – a great start. The whipped feta with red grape and rosemary home made breads were also an enjoyable way to have bread and the effort in this was clear to see, making it almost a course in itself.
The cheese and pineapple starter included edible silver for decoration, nitrogen poached cheese for crunch and cheese sauce with pineapple chunks to start the proceedings. Personally, this went down a treat as I found the combination of sweet with the more rich smothering of cheese perfectly joined although I know it was not the favourite for everyone at the table.
In a similar lightness, the poached hens egg yolk with cheese crips to dip in to like ‘soldiers in eggs’ I thought was superb – easy, delicate enjoyment. This egg accompanied the ‘BLT’ which had bacon spheres comprised of cauliflower, black pudding and birch syrup for the bacon and ‘lettuce’ elements (with the latter on decoration as well) with tomato macaroons that were frankly the some of the deepest and sweetest tomato flavoured anything that I have had in quite a while. This was a powerful hit and was such fun to have in this way as well.
Whilst others at the table opted for the orkney scallop with pickled mooli, smoked eel and lumpfish roe (which was reportedly very much thumbs up), I couldn’t resist going for the fabled Monkfish Masala from the GBM winning menu of 2009. The succulent monkfish was packed with moisture and the masala sauce was more of the texture of chickpea than I was expecting but was a beautiful masala flavour and a lovely combination which was a lovely thing to do. Readers of my site will know I am absolutely avid Great British Menu fan and love watching every year, so having one of the all round ’10’ dishes is always a special moment for me.
The roast loin of veal, pea tartare, tamarind and liquorice was another lovely course. The only aspect I found not brilliant was the liquorice sauce which was thick, dry and sticky, as if held in a fridge for too long but other than that the meat was lovely with the flavours complimenting very well. The entire table adored the accompanying soy cured mackerel, shiso leaf with baby fennel on the side which was a delicate delight. I haven’t had an addition to a meat main like this before and at this stage of the meal I was convinced that this was a leading light of 1 Michelin starred venues across the land.
The sweets came initially with blueberries, frozen lemon, toasted seeds and beurre noisette which was a lovely combination and brilliant choices as well to have a pre-dessert with one of the all-time favourite savoury indulgences of beurre noisette which was another aspect I have not had in a pre-dessert before. The burnt English custard egg surprise with strawberries and tarragon was another absolute belter and again, I could see very much why this was a GBM hit at the same time. Custard is a childhood favourite of mine and when it is doen to this level in a Michelin starred restaurant it creates a strong emotion of happiness with me – thank you Glynn.
Finally, the mint choccy chip was essentially, after the dry ice had dissapated, the most luxurious play on an ‘After 8’ you can get and a classic combination done beautifully – such soft handling of the chcolate and the mint and really was excellent.
I loved this meal and this is stapled as a highly rated and very much upper echelon of 1 Michelin starred venues that I have been to purely on the food alone. What made it such a pleasant experience all round were all other elements of genuine hospitality and fun that came with it. I walked away content to have paid what we did for the menu of that standard and a desire to return – is that not the very purpose of restaurants?
Food Grade: 88%
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