Brunch at 100&Six

August 12, 2019

I continue to hear great reports of 100&Six on Queens Road (reviewed enthusistically here on 23 March) and thought I’d go today to check out the brunch menu. And it’s gone straight to the top of my list for places to brunch in Leicester.

Their take on a full English (£8.50) was simply blissful – sophisticated but most definitely not poncey. It featured pillowy-soft scrambled egg with fresh herbs; sweet honey-cured bacon; proper grown-up hash browns with both crunch and potato flavour; high-quality black pudding with that iron-rich tang of blood; and a tomato and bean cassoulet that would win-over the most harded bakedbeanophobe.

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Gill went down the sweeter end of the menu with the apparently highly popular French toast (£7). And I’m not surprised this dish has won over Clarendon Park – thick, toasted slices of eggy brioche are doused in blood orange syrup and sprinkled with almonds, and it’s completed with skilfully-grilled, sweet and firm nectarines. A really smart, light mid-morning treat, which we made slightly more substantial with an extra side of that honeyed bacon.

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Its a complete delight to find such quality food cooked by a chef with a flair for flavour and a well-balanced approach to innovation.

The brunch menu is served Monday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and other choices include a watermelon fruit salad, pecan and banana granola, sweet potato fritters with maple, chilli and feta. The full small plate menu is also available from 12pm.

 

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My veal chop

One of the saddest events of recent months was the closure of the King Richard III on Highcross Street – a delightful reinvention of a city centre pub with really fine food at reasonable prices. They couldn’t quite get the midweek trade or seemingly convince people with the “country pub in the city” thing.  So it seemed good news that the Beautiful Pubs Collective, who also have the nearby Rutland and Derby and Knight and Garter as well the Forge Inn in Glenfield, have reopened it in partnership with freehold owners Everards.

There was quite an extensive refurb over the spring, but seemingly little building work. The layout of the pub is identical but there is some more theming around the titular monarch and the front room seems a little more “pubby”. Apologies to the designer who probably sweated buckets over pantone swatches to get the right shades, but to philistines such as myself the feel doesn’t seem to have changed much – it’s still handsome and atmospheric. Interestingly the menu hasn’t taken much of a swerve from previous regime either.

The KRIII is now billed as a chop house, one of those terms like ‘brasserie’ that I suspect many people would find difficult to define precisely in words but nevertheless create a very clear mental image. A chop house should be somewhat old-fashioned (wood panelling a must) and provide generous, Pickwickian slabs of meat. The King Richard delivers this in spades.

The menu is shortish and focused (possibly narrow depending on your point of view) and appealing to enthusiastic carnivores. Envisioning a substantial lunch, Matt (from Great Food Club – do join) and I started our lunch with two of the small “while you wait” starters and the first impression was great. Tomato concasse (£3.50) showed good knife skills with finely-diced, flavoursome tomato and herbs on grilled sourdough, crucially served at a good temperature rather than out of the fridge, while truffle-scented polenta fritters with wild mushrooms (£4) were crisp and had well-balanced fungal flavour.

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Barnsley chop with salsa verde

The real appeal seemed to be the grilled meats, cooked quick and hot on the robata grill which remains in the kitchen. And sure enough, the arrival at table of our main courses was a genuine wow moment. My veal chop (£19 – I think prices change with weight as available) dominated its plate imperiously, its huge bone careering off to the middle of the table. It was beautifully charred, and simply dressed with quenelle of rosemary butter and a couple of delightfully sweet/tart miniature plums. It maybe looked like it missed some sauce/gravy but it absolutely did not need it, being tender and juicy enough as it was. Possibly slightly under-seasoned it was still a wonderful thing to demolish.

Matt’s Barnsley chop (£16) was equally epic – I’d say a good inch and a half thick but like the veal, cooked impeccably. Head chef Chris Owen has worked in Japanese restaurants before and clearly knows his way around a robata. Sides are extra and we shared a portion of fine, fat, beef dripping chips and some broccoli given an oriental hit with chilli. A carafe of Argentinian malbec was exactly the right accompaniment. Apple crumble crème brulee for pud was straightforward and delicious.

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Previous chef patron Chris Elliman had a background in pub fine dining and oversaw a menu of classic British and European food – a French onion soup still burns brightly in my memory, along with a burrata salad and a simple onglet steak. Encouragingly the food and service here is still high quality, if possibly a little more pricey and smaller in range. Whether this new incarnation can succeed remains to be seen, but on this evidence it deserves to and I’m certainly looking forward to another visit.

It’s notable that while the chain phenomenon has successfully exploited Italian and French cuisines, there’s been less of a tendency for them to replace the British curry house. Interesting then that we have two burgeoning chains opening in Leicester. (You could argue three if you include the exciting news about Tandem – Cyrus Todiwala’s sixth restaurant that will open in the former Memsaab premises in August, but that’s a very different kettle of tilapia).

On 12 August we’ll get Mowgli in St Martin’s Square, the tenth branch of this expanding, generally highly-rated Indian street food cafe founded by ex-lawyer Nisha Katona. First up though is the Tamatanga on Shires Lane in the Highcross. This may only be the third branch – following Birmingham and the original in Nottingham – but it ticks all the hallmarks of the ambitious chain. Big shopping centre location close to other nationally known brands; large space with industrial fans and extractors above; endless piped music; peppy but inexperienced young staff in branded T-shirts following strict service protocols; an aspiration to a “laid-back vibe”; and a quick turnover approach which no doubt suits the contemporary diners who famously don’t want to sit around for hours in a restaurant but of course also enables multiple table-turnings for the operator.

So, Tamatanga doesn’t have have that much to distinguish itself from its near neighbours but it’s press launch last week seemed to impress the bloggerati, so Gill and I went for lunch. For all its casul style – paper menus as table mats, cutlery coming as an “eating kit” prepacked in a paper envelope, the food itself seems a bit pricey. Wraps with “our legendary tama fries” £11ish,  curries with rice or naan from £11.95, upwards, small plates and chaat dishes at around £6. There is though a lunch time offer that means you can get a main course and a soft drink for around a tenner.

No starters as such, food is delivererd as and when ready, but first up for us were small plates of onion bhaji (£4.95) and lamb samosa (£5.45). The bhaji were not good – thickish pucks that were crispy enough on the outside but quite unpleasantly doughy and undercooked inside. We liked the bright-tasting coriander chutney with them though. The samosa were also a bit mixed – the filling was tasty and the tamarind chutney sublime, but while it was good to see thick flaky pastry rather than crisp filo, they were excessively greasy.

We were on firmer ground with our main courses – my delhi lamb curry was a generous bowl of rogon josh with good distinctive spicing and reasonably tender lamb. The ghee-laden naan were pretty good too. A chicken biryani was also well-spiced with plenty of tender meat – if it had been my main dish I think I would have preferred a vegetable curry with it rather than the large bowl of raita but that might be a matter of taste. But for the rather odd addition of a pile of salad leaves this was on a par with the standard popular British Indian.

How much you enjoy Tamatanga might well be down to your choice in restaurants – or maybe just your needs on the day. I enjoyed most of the food and would be happy to try more, even if ultimately I’m likely to prefer a more traditional restaurant environment or the vibrant spicing and textural contrasts of a samosa chaat from the likes of Narorough Rd cafe Mithaas.

A few yards up the road from Bindu Patel’s new venture Sanctua lies Tipu Sultan. It’s hard to imagine two more different restaurants. The latter is a huge, vibrant, blingy affair with sizzling platters of meat flying out of the kitchen. Sanctua on the other-hand offers completely plant-based cuisine in what is probably the most stripped down, relaxing eating environment in the region.

Patel is a Leicestershire lass but has worked at some stellar locations in London – including Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Gymkhana and Trishna and has staged at La Gavroche. She has recently returned to veganism and it is this , combined with a distaste for the waste she saw at many restaurants, that has set the tone for her highly distinctive first venture of her own.

You step into a small lobby to be welcomed with quiet politeness and then shown into the main room where you are welcomed by gentle birdsong, artworks featuring wildlife, plants chosen for their air-purifying qualities and bare, unlaid tables (dishes are brought to the table with relevant cutlery). There is a menu, but really just for information – you just have the set menu of the week, three courses and amuse bouche at £30 (allergies can be catered for if discussed at booking.).

This of course is a dream for the kitchen – makes it far easier to plan and buy and, crucially for their vision, virtually eliminates waste. If there are any leftovers I understand they are taken back for the chef’s rabbit.

20190615_183020 1The menu currently changes weekly and is themed around a particular cuisine – Patel’s parents have roots in Malaysia and Africa and both cultures have featured in the early weeks,  but on our visit the emphasis was central American. First up was an amuse of a corn cracker with refried beans, salsa and coriander chutney. It immediately raised our expectations – bright spicing, lively salsa, delicate micro-herbs, this was a fine canape.

Next up were two vegetable and soya mince empanandas with chimichurri. Quite why soya mince was chosen I don’t know – not a pleasant texture and no particular taste. Everything else about the dish was excellent though – Patel clearly knows how to pack flavour in to vegetables and both the pastry and the intense green chimmichurri sauce were fine.

20190615_183800Another aspect of the restaurant’s approach to sustainability is to shop at our local market and use produce that is in good condition but may not be aesthetically appealing – to use a term I find irritatingly twee, “wonky veg”. It certainly works here with the main course also impressing. Several terms here I had to google I admit but at its core was pozole rojo – a fiery red broth made with dried chiles and hominy, kernals of maize that have treated with an alkali to soften them up. This was fabulous – complex notes added from “our own secret Yucatan spice blend”.

20190615_184635The usual pork in the dish was replaced with chickpeas and puled jackfruit, a common vegan fall-back which I know divides opinion but I really like for its texture and distinctive mild flavour. There was crunch and carbs from a terrfic fried tortilla, delicious little slices of lime-cured radish, coriander rice, vegan sour cream and even a nod to chef’s Gujarati heritage with sambharo (spiced cabbage). The dish also came with excellent sides of a terrific guacamole garnished with pomegrante and a nutty, garlicky, spicy salsa macha.

Desert was “food of the gods” chilli chocolate pots. I suppose I was expecting a routine mousse with a little bit of chilli, but this was quite sensational. It appeared to be simply melted chocolate with a couple of flakes of dried but this was dreamy stuff, packed with punchy fruit and spice notes. The slightly doughy cinnamon-dusted churros were a disappointment but the memory of that chocolate will live long with me.

20190615_190847“A lot of our customers are meat-eaters [hello!] who are looking to try something something different” said Patel to leading industry publication in June. “I’m not trying to preach a different way of life to them or convert them to veganism. Sanctua is a celebration of vegetables and our customers understand that.”

There will obviously be those who are put off by Sanctua but there are plenty of places catering for those with the love of a steak or fried chicken. For those looking to cut down or cut out meat, it’s great that there is a fine dining alternative for them that takes vegetables seriously.

The Merchant of Venice

June 15, 2019

MOV1New from today on Granby St, Leicester, is an intriguing Italian café that brings an original take to the city’s increasingly competitive coffee market.

The Merchant of Venice, located right by the big crossing that brings thousands of people into the city every day from the railway station, is a Shakespeare-themed venue, complete with original paintings of the Bard and scenes from the eponymous play. There are also several sets of scales should you wish to weigh out a pound of flesh and plenty of other curios and artworks to make you ponder.  It’s a joint development by Jaimon Thomas, the man behind the similarly beautiful Kayal and Herb restaurants, and his friend Basilio a former manager at San Carlo and now coffee supplier for legendary Viennese roasters Julius Meinl.

MOV5Like most Italians, Basilio is passionate about coffee and this café is very much about Italian coffee culture rather than the American one that dominate the chains. The coffee offering is supplemented by some fine looking Italian patisserie produced especially for them and a short menu of all-day breakfasts, salads and home-made classics such as arancini, lasagne and bruschettas – with vegans catered for too. Eventually this will build up further for evening openings with meals and cocktails but for now the focus is on breakfasts (it opens from 7am) and daytime snacking.  Oh and the Italian brunch menu takes in the classic full English and my “Leicester breakfast” included a first-rate sausage and perfectly cooked fresh mushrooms that suggests that while the menu is relatively humble, they are serious about good food.

I think a lot of people will enjoy cosy catch-ups in this fun and original cafe.

 

 

 

 

 

For a restaurant in an area full of relatively well-heeled potential customers with a keen desire to eat out, Al Maidah on Queen’s Rd, Leicester, seems to have adopted a strange marketing policy.

I’ve never seen a place fly so low under the radar. It’s quite an achievement these days after two months trading to have seemingly no online presence or media footprint whatsoever – no website, no social media, not even a Tripadvisor comment. Yes there’s a shop front, but no menu or other information displayed. It would appear to be Moroccan but what does it serve and how much does it cost? There’s no obvious way to find out, short of going in and sitting down. So that’s what we did.

mintteaIt has all the hallmarks of the family-run neighbourhood restaurant – the kind of place where younger members hang around out front and fight for the control of the music  (pleasant North African sounds) or pop out for extra parsley from the supermarket. It’s quite small and done up with some appealing desert-chic touches – camel trains in silhouette on the walls, miniature tagines on display, and cute little fabric figures with which to pick up the hot handles of your exquisite mint-tea pots. In the bijou upstairs room there’s even a floor-seated area replete with cushions for traditional  laid back dining.

The menu covers the usual suspects of Maghreb cuisine – spicy harira soup, tagines, cous cous and grilled meats, with a couple of specifically Tunisian touches such as the use of molokhia greens.  There are popular dishes such as  a sweet lamb tagine with almonds and apricots and a cous cous royale which contains a bit of everything including merguez sausages. Oh, and main courses are between around £8 and £14. couscous.jpg

We picked a chicken cous cous and a kefte tagine (lamb meatballs), along with sweet mint tea and a mint mojito mocktail (the restaurant does not serve alcohol). Both came delightfully presented and piping hot. The on-the-bone chicken with vegetables and chick peas sat on a generous helping of cous cous and came with a sauce for ladling over. My friend found it over-salty and struggled a bit with some flabby chicken skin but the flavours in the dish were excellent and the chicken very nicely tender. My tagine came enticingly bubbling to the table and proved very good eating  – delicately aromatic spiced lamb in a stew with onions, tomatoes and coriander with a couple of eggs baked shaksuka-style into the sauce. The lightly toasted arabic bread was excellent too.
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Neither dish was particularly spicy-hot, though whether this is concern over timid Clarendon Park palates or simply the chef’s preferred style for these dishes I’m not clear.

The overall dining experience was maybe not as smooth it should have been. Neither the “dish of the day” or the beautiful-sounding fresh Morrocan pastries listed were available.  Trying to put a positive light on this it shows that “freshly prepared” probably means just that, but on the other hand, we were a couple of slightly disappointed diners. Also while our waiter was lovely and helpful, we didn’t get our mojito until we chased it up, and we heard another table say when checking out that they hadn’t received everything they had ordered.

 

 

So no hipster reinvention or fusion stuff going on here – just good traditional, regional, comfort food that many should want to check out. Despite the lack of profile, word does seem to be getting around and there were respectable numbers and a diverse clientele on our wet Tuesday night visit. A weekend trip beckons.

 

 

 

With summer coming in, the street food events are taking off.

Last night saw the launch of the 2Funky Street Kitchen, a new venture from the 2 Funky bar complex on Braunstone Gate. It’s got a lot going for it, including a large indoor bar and a large covered outdoor area right over the canal. This is great right now for cooing over squadrons of swans and cygnets, ducks and ducklings, but sadly you are also looking out over jettisoned bottles, fagends and assorted other litter. Last night saw Derby-based El Contador offering tacos, made from cornmeal on the night – I had their chicken mole which was an outstanding little morsel that put much UK Mexican food I’ve had to shame.

So during June there will be events on Fridays and Saturdays including Martin Brothers Pizza on 7th, Carribbean barbecue on 21st and El Contador again on 28th. Other special events include a “bottomless bubbles and bao brunch” on 15th. To be honest, I don’t think I’m 2Funky’s key demographic and it was all a bit loud for me but if you’re more of a party animal this could be just the thing for you. Check out the 2Funky website for full details.

Elsewhere there’s good news that Bobby Ananta, the ever-cheerful stalwart from St Martin’s and Crafty, is back from a spell back home in Java and has an Indonesian streetfood night planned at Crafty for 12 June. It’ll be a no-bookings evening and I’ve no menu details yet, but Bobby is a super chef – his rendang is jaw-dropping – and I’m confident it’ll be great.

Of course work continues across St Martin’s on Mowgli, the classy Indian streetfood chain which should be opening “late summer”. More good news for the square is that the former Grillstock unit has been taken and while details are currently super-secret, I’m told it will be a great addition for Leicester. And one last thing, another informal mini-chain Indian restaurant arrives shortly with Tamatanga, whom many will know from Nottingham, opening on Shires Walk in Highcross in Mid-June.

Just to keep things ticking over here, I thought I’d mention a couple of – very different – wines I’ve tried recently.

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Froggy assesses Rothley Wine’s King Richard

As this is a Leicestershire blog, I was very keen to try a bottle of King Richard – a dry white wine made here in Leicestershire by Rothley Wine. The grapes are new ones to me – allegedly 77 per cent Solaris and 33 per cent Siegerrede (I know, someone’s maths or proofreading needs improving). English wines are improving at breakneck pace – the wines made by Chapel Down for example, on the chalk downs of Kent and Sussex are superb and their operation in Tenterden is highly professional. Leicestershire is 150 miles further north and notwithstanding global warming this is marginal territory.  But Rothley have done a fine job of building their operation with the support of local people.

So, King Richard 2015. First off – it’s really pretty good. The makers say it’s in the style of a gewurztraminer and suggest flavours of melon, grapefruit and ginger – and I get all of that. But as well as those brighter, zingy flavours there was also a whiff of the farmyard that I found off-putting. Some may like some funk in their wines but while I was more than happy to finish off the bottle, it was enough for me to think at £11.50 a bottle it was an interesting experiment rather than “get a case in”. Unfair maybe to compare to similar wines of established areas such as Alsace or the Loire, and you can certainly be disappointed with wines from those regions, but we’re not there yet.  Definitely worth supporting though because English wines can, and I am sure will, continue to improve in years to come.

My second bottle I’m only recommending because I’ve bought all the bottles I can find already.   Lidl’s Wine Tour selections are available for a couple of months on a “when it’s one, it’s gone” basis and often feature wines from just outside top appelations which come in between around £5 and £9. They are always worth a try, but rarely prove anything other than you get what you pay for. However I do think their Selone Negroamaro from Puglia is truly spectacular value at £5.69.  Coming in at a hefty 14.5 per cent it has gentle but firm tannins and a depth of fruit, spice and vanilla that is rare at this price point. It can be drunk on it’s own but is super with red meat or cheese.

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Froggy assesses Lidl’s Selone Negroamaro

Much as Queen’s Rd gets lauded as a place of lively independent venues, there’s always been a sense that it doesn’t really rise to its potential as far as restaurants are concerned. So here’s a hearty cheer for 100andSix, the bar and restaurant that opened at that address this week. We just popped in for a quick supper, but that was more than enough to suggest this is some of the best and certainly most interesting food available in the city.

The site has in recent years been home to Don Leone, Cultura and Moow, none of which set things alight. This new venue may well be a better fit for Clarendon Park. It is an initiative of Kal Ruparell, who knows the area well from having run Dos Hermanos bar and who is also behind the classy city centre cocktail bar 33 Cank St. The downstairs bar area is geared around cocktails and wine, and the upstairs area more for dining – and this is where things get interesting.

Head chef is Martin Powdrill, well-known to readers of this blog as being behind Cured, a fantastic operation running out of Brewdog and later the Cookie in Leicester City Centre. Martin’s distinctive approach has been with cures, smokes, fermentations and other approaches to building flavours and highlighting quality ingredients. With 100andSix he has been given the chance to refine and elevate his approach from interesting platters of pub food to elegant, exciting restaurant food. The whole thing has a Nordic feel, with the daytime offering focussing on smorrebrod, open sandwiches such as roastbeef with Danish remoulade, horseradish, crispy onions, pickled green onion and tarragon.

The main menu is mainly presented as nibbles and small plates (“don’t mention tapas” implores the menu) that offer flexibility in terms of snacking, sharing or building up to a more substantial meal. Most dishes are between £2.50 and £10 – with a couple of more substantial dishes such as hangar steak with celeriac fondant (£14) and monkfish cooked in blackened banana leaf with shallots, choy sum, almond, lemongrass and yukon gold potato (£19).

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Cured cod (picture from the restaurant’s Facebook page)

We were having a little treat after two-hour evening work meeting, and sure enough the food on our order of five plates between three lifted spirits immensely. Triple cooked chips with a thyme and garlic rub were superb, while little strips of black treacle and burnt barley candied bacon were a real revelation. Beautifully prepared, these would have been easy to get wrong but provided a lovely balance of crispness and chewiness while the sweetness was well judged. Then there was delicately sliced duck breast sprinkled with liquorice powder and doused in a sensational fermented prune foam, giving a terrific fruity punch and a slight fizz on the tongue. Sea asparagus and charred broccoli completed the dish. There was more superb innovation with our vegan dish of fried avocado (I know!) with a light tempura coating and smoked chilli ponzu sauce and ginger and cucumber salsa. This was another well-constructed dish with stunningly fresh and clear Asian flavours. Finally there was a ceviche-style dish of cod cured in cazcabel tequila with little dabs of a banging saffron aioli and a super squid ink cracker that had both visual and taste appeal.

20190321_205402Alongside our dishes was a complementary selection of pickles and extras that, the kitchen advises, are served to work as condiments to complement the main dishes. These were hugely successful too – from little strips of chilli that gave a fantastic uplift to the chips, to beautifully soused strips of cucumber and slices of lemon that had been lightly confited (I think) giving a mild sweetness to the inherent sharpness.

100andSix may not please those who like to fill up on meat and carbs but there are plenty of places for pizza and kebabs. Here though there is fine, unusual and innovative cooking and an exciting approach to flavours. I’m looking forward to trying those sandwiches and to seeing what ther take is on traditional Sunday lunch.

  • Sorry for the lack of photos – mine just didn’t cut it, but the food does look delightful. 

The White Peacock

March 19, 2019

peacockwbsThe White Peacock has stood proudly at the bottom of New Walk, Leicester for a good few years offering one of the city’s most smart, sophisticated but relaxed environment’s for good food.

The restaurant was set up by former chef patron Phil Sharpe, who earned his spurs in the city at Maiyango. Some 18 months ago Phil decided he’d had enough of the stress and sold up to the Koban Group, a locally based company which also runs Aspects in Enderby (and more recently has bought Leicester’s Lansdowne and 1573 bar and grill).

I’d not been in since Phil departed, but last week went down and tried the tasting menu. First thing to say is that not only have the excellent staff team been retained, but the classy interior and the fine dining approach have not been messed with – this is still a very pleasant environment to enjoy a cocktail and good food.


The nine course menu started with what is described as a plate of snacks. This felt a bit random and unfocused – there was a sausage roll that was really not very nice, a little rice crisp with a smart crab salad, a crisp little bird nest of fried potato and a superb tranche of hake in squid ink batter. The four things stood on the plate like strangers, reluctant to talk to each other. There was maybe some sort of allusion to the British seaside going on but I think it would work better to just keep the hake and maybe create another proper crab course to replace the rest.

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Ox cheek with yeasted cauliflower puree

Next up was a hefty slab of beautifully slow-cooked ox cheek, served with a yeasted cauliflower puree and a light, sweetish ponzu sauce. This was great – good hearty food given a smart twist. Then came cured salmon with cucumber, fennel and avocado mousse – a beautifully composed dish which looked great and had good clean flavours. The salmon in particular pleased, with a little light scorching on top but otherwise with a sashimi-like quality.

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Salmon with cucumber, fennel and avocado mousse

Then a little break with a palate cleansing yuzu sorbet livened up at table by being given a good hearty slug of prosecco.

Last of the mains was a really beautiful piece of tender, medium rare, fillet of beef with nice and crunchy pommes anna (basically thinly sliced layers of potatato cooked with butter), herby lovage puree and a Madeira sauce. Lovely as this was, I don’t think ox cheek and beef fillet should be on the same tasting menu – it made the meal feel a bit lop-sided. There was a faux-pas with the steak – some of the tape used to keep it in shape during cooking had been left on.

20190307_215641We transitioned to sweet with a quenelle of excellent goat’s cheese mousse served simply with fine lightly pickled red onion. One of the pleasures of this meal was that all the dishes were beautifully plated, both in choice and variety of plates and in the arrangements.

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Cherry baked Alaska

 

The first desert sounded right up my street but was a bit disappointing – cherry baked Alaska with almond meringues and almond brittle. Obviously this being a tasting menu you don’t want huge deserts but the baked Alaska was just too small to allow the different elements to interact properly. The cherry element had gone before I knew it, unable to deal with the sweet Italian meringue, which I felt need a bit more attention from a flame.

The slight frustration with the Alaska was made more pointed with final main element – a large, super-rich chocolate fondant tart with tonka bean milk gel, chocolate tuile and tonka bean crème anglaise. All elements were done very well but it felt a bit much at the end of such a meal – though of course I still just about managed to clear up a couple of first-rate petit fours with the coffee.

We had the wine matching and there were some lovely choices including a fulsome Australian shiraz with the steak and a stunning black muscat with the baked alsaka. But a rather light Chevanceau from Herault failed to stand up to the ox cheek.

Service throughout the evening was charming and helpful, and the pace was just right. Maybe not the best structured tasting menu I’ve ever had, but plenty to like in a restaurant that will give pleasure to many.

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