The King’s Arms, Wing

March 25, 2012

After a terrific  lunch last year, I’ve been keen to get back to the King’s Arms, Wing, and have a proper run at the menu. Friday night I persuaded three pals to come along. It’s such a delightfully cosy place and it has such a great approach to food, I felt it can’t go wrong. And, hooray, it didn’t.

It’s a lovely old pub in a suitably out of the way Rutland village, with a roaring log fire, chickens and fruit trees out the back  and a serious kitchen that is signed up to the  Slow Food philosophy. In season there’s lots of local game, but then almost everything comes from within a few miles and you can find details of most of their suppliers on a big map in the bar. There’s even a smoke house attached to the pub which means all smoked and cured produce is made on site – eels, Rutland Water trout, game and more.

(image from the King's Arm website)

The menu changes with what is coming through door but always seems to read beautifully. Take my starter  – terrine of suckling pig, foie gras, pistachios and raisins, with quince jelly, apples and game chips. It looked and tasted as good it sounds,   all elements coming through and creating a real luxury dish. Then there were diver caught scallops,  coming with cauliflower puree, toasted hazel nuts and a powder of grated egg yolk, while another pressed pork terrine from the specials board was deemed a huge hit, with a mustard pickle and some sensational air-dried ham.

The wholemeal bread was among the best I’ve ever had in any restaurant, coming with good butter overlain with flakes of sea salt.

My main course was the traditional Lombardy pairing of osso bucco and ristto milanese. The risotto was maybe a bit overdone to my taste but the flavour was knockout  – strong but overpowering saffron and a good stock in there somewhere. The osso bucco was as rich and rustic as you’d want – a cross cut of veal shank which gives the marrow bone plenty of chance to infuse a powerful sauce.  We tried more veal in the form of a T-bone steak from Welland Rose Veal – another fabulous-looking hunk of meat that was beautiifully seasoned and cooked.  Monkfish came 70s-style disguised as scampi, breadcrumbed and deep-fried, even down to a few bones  fashioned into a fan-tail. But it was a joke in the best possible taste, not sacrificing the delicacy of the fish, which came with saffron-turned potatoes and wild mushrooms in a creamy crayfish-claw bisque.  Our final main was a pigeon and winter vegetable ragout – generous amounts of  smokey pigeon in a kind of inverted hotpot. The meat  impressed with both texture and depth of flavour.

We really weren’t up for some of the substantial puds on offer. A couple of us tried samples from the a sizeable list of home ice-creams – top of the list was the beautiful strawberry, made with fruit from nearby Manton, and the malted milk chocolate and apple tea sorbet also impressed, though a Kirsch cherry flavour was rather anonymous.

So we felt really well fed by the end and talked about how we’d like to pick the place up and plonk somewhere in the middle of Leicester. Well, that might not be fair on the people of Rutland, but you take the point – the Almanack tries to emulate this kind of pub but falls a long way short. My only regret was we weren’t there next weekend for the special managalitsa menu – a four-course homage to the curly-coated pig with a wineflight at £44.  We’ll definitely be looking out for specials of that sort.

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