Renovated, family run Michelin starred pub in the quiet area of Burchetts Green, serving the highest value for money menus
Without a shadow of doubt, this is the best value evening meal I have had in any Michelin starred venue with its 5 courses for £28 menu ‘choisi’ (whatever the chef has to play with for that week and season). Cooking here is classical and I left more than full as a result, having been looked after by Simon Bonwick’s (head chef) team who are all from his own family. A heartfelt experience had here which describes the food aptly as well. In spite of a moment of unease with the food, it is simply exceedingly recommended as a place, set in a charming English village location. It also has one of the nicest frontage areas for dining (by the front window) that I have seen among other Michelin starred pubs.
I believe 5 of the 9 members of Simon Bonwick’s family were working on the evening I visited, led ably by the most experienced. The fact that the chef puts on a menu that happens to be whatever is sourced shows an obvious degree of confidence and enjoyment in his trade whcih is lovely to see (many establishments do not wish to risk the pressure) so even above the sheer value of the menu for £28, I was all the more happy to allow him to stretch his culinary legs. It was a suprise to me that he is also the only one in the kitchen cooking and preparing all the meals which I find impressive in its own right. The chef’s one, lone kitchen porter was assisting with washing the dishes, which took me back to my days as an 18-year old doing the very same.
Nibbles at the table started with cheese shortbread with olives chick pea on crisp with olive and walnut which were a warm welcome to the pub. Pan de campo bread made with yoghurt and grape juice was simple (I did not get much of the latter but home made it most certainly was) with lightly salted butter – no frills, just good quality on both.
The Brittony prawns with garlic, olive, thyme were absolutely lovely – large, plump and juicy and lightly fried giving a pleasant crispy coating and showed the first sign of such good value to have these huge prawns on the menu as a mere bonus. The crab with lemon mayonnaise, kashew dressing, apple & tomato was a lovely mix but regrettably I had more than 2 bits of shell to contend with, which made it hard to enjoy as the rest of that course was spent going on a reconnoissance mission to avoid anymore which marred the enjoyment of the dish.
The turbot with layered mushroom and mushroom discs, crispy shallot, creamed mash and mushroom jus gave a deep sense of earthiness from the mushroom and I enjoyed its simplicity. I felt the mushroom did rather drown out the other elements here, not least a huge piece of fresh turbot which was another lovely aspect to the value for money menu and this was as succulent as they come. At first I thought the mash was a little subtle and needed salt but can see how it actually complimented and calmed down the almost truffle-like power of the mushroom.
The lamb was nicely done with an exceedingly decadent jus that had taken 3 days to simmer and reduce forming an utterly sticky and shiny jus. The depth of this jus was not in question and it was a delight to hold but at the same time being at the limit of thickness and saltiness for me. What was perfectly lovely to mix this in to were the vegetables which were an instant flashback to family Sunday lunch vegetables in my case as they were at the perfectly cooked level by not being hard and having just enough crunch. The lamb itself was deliberately served pink in order to not render the fat too much; although there was quite a bit of fat to contend with, its inclusion panned out well as I believe this enhances the overall flavour.
The raspberry bavarois (similar to a mousse) and sorbet was another no holds barred dish, one I felt I almost needed sunglasses to look at but was delightful – not too sweet and not too boring as well. I didn’t even have enough room to eat all of the dishes but I ploughed on and just about managed to get the pistachio and raspberry macaroons to go with coffee at the end which, for a mere £3 extra gave the total of a 6 course Michelin starred dinner for £31 which made me almost feel guilty paying this when I know how much effort had gone in to this as well.
Overall, you get the sense you are in very hospitable and accommodating hands here on every level. Whilst I did not get many stratosphere food explosions in the mouth, simplicity is not an issue for me if it tastes superb – the prawns and the lamb with its jus were the highlights that produced these happy feelings. The key here is that I now know you can come here to have quality ingredients at sensational value for money and can walk away very happy. I need to return to this venue (and perhaps try some of the favorites on the a la carte) and I would say you should definitely give it a go as well. To those that are wary of the idea of ‘fine dining’, I would say this is the absolute examplar of why there should be no fear associated with this notion. Some equally good wine choices by the glass as well and this completed a highly satisfying experience.
Food Grade: 75%
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