Hammer and Pincers

August 16, 2016

My recent review from the Leicester Mercury. Always good to find an old favourite is on good form.

The Hammer and Pincers
5 East Road
Wymeswold
Leicestershire
LE12 6ST

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I first reviewed the Hammer and Pincers around 12 years back. Since that time it has, as restaurants must, tacked and trimmed to meet prevailing economic currents but has remained in high esteem among East Midlands diners. A quick look at the online menu suggested chef and owner Danny Jimminson is currently back to offering appealing, fine dining dishes, so a good time to go back and see how it’s doing I thought.

Jimminson has a strong CV, including training at the Savoy with Anton Edelmann, but crucially for a chef who wants to prosper, he can also pick talent. A few years back he gave a job to a 16 year old local lad who had just been expelled from school – and now fiery Tom Sellers and his Michelin-starred Restaurant Story is the talk of all London.

Sellers own CV refers to his first job “in a pub”, but in truth the Hammer and Pincers is not really one of those. Wymeswold already has The Windmill, part of the Little Britain Pub Company (along with Rothley’s Bluebell and The Curzon in Woodhouse Eaves), and from August former Leicestershire cricket stars Stuart Broad and Harry Gurney are re-opening the Three Crowns, so the village is well-equipped for pubs. This is more a smart, stylish destination dining venue.

We struggled to get a table in the week we wanted to go as the restaurant was booked up with proud parents and their offspring celebrating graduation. You can see why it’s so popular for such events – the menu reeks class and the place is run by with friendly efficiency by Sandra Jimminson and her well-trained team.

Our meal started with superb bread – sweet walnut and raisin and nicely savoury rosemary foccacia. Both were so good we were pleased to be offered a second round when they saw we’d wolfed down the first lot.

Then starters – both tremendously thought-through dishes that offered a wide range of pleasures. A large, pillowy raviolini was stuffed with chorizo – suitably chopped and cooked to create a spicy, sauce-like filling – and smeared in a great smoked garlic purée. It sat on a little bed of sweet onion marmalade and then there were salad leaves covered in generous shavings of manchego, a little twist on more usual parmesan. Bringing it all together was a completely wonderful little pot of intense pork stock made with Pedro Ximenez sherry – completing the Spanish-Italian fusion style of the dish.

Our second starter was a real beauty, a ballotine combining duck liver and confit leg meat rolled in crushed pistachios with a toasted brioche roll, with lovely little balls of poached peach and melon and a sour peach purée. It looked a picture and tasted as good as it looked.

 

Then there was a palate-cleansing cucumber and herb sorbet – heavenly stuff – before tucking into our mains. I don’t know if it says more about me or the Hammer and Pincers but I realised afterwards that the two main courses were pretty much identical to those ordered on that first visit. Fortunately there was no real drop-off in standard in the intervening years. Mustard-rubbed fillet of beef was impeccable, and the sauce with it showed – like the porky one with my starter – that the kitchen takes no short cuts in with its stocks, jus, gravy whatever. There was a sort of pastilla of 48- hour cooked shin and a tremendous potato cake with thyme and smoked bacon plus roast heritage carrots. It was a hefty dish for a summer menu but great steaks will always sell and this was certainly that.

From the specials menu I ordered monkfish with lobster and crayfish risotto, not least because I was keen to pair it with one of the Rieslings that German-born Sandra had added to the wine list. Monkfish doesn’t have the kind of sublime texture and flavour of, say , turbot or halibut, or even a really good piece of cod, and it needs strong flavours around it. The risotto was indeed rich and intense with fish and herbs, though for me it was little overdone – I think risotto always needs a just a little bit of bite left in the rice. There was also an unnecessarily huge pile of peashoots with it – on this occasion a case of more is less. So a satisfying, if not perfect dish, but a great match for the Dr Loosen Riesling from the Mosel valley.

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(pics are from Hammers and Pincers website – not my meal)

 

Our shared desert was dreamy though, if you are a chocolate lover anyway. A pavé of chocolate sponge topped with rich ganache came with a light mousse contained in a quenelle of thin, crisp chocolate, a perfect raspberry sorbet, fresh raspberries and dabs of raspberry gel.

Well constructed dishes, solid classsical technique, fine ingredients and careful service all typify the Hammer and Pincers. It’s certainly a place to celebrate but should also just be enjoyed by anyone who loves their food.

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Forest Food Fest

August 11, 2016

It’s maybe partly that they’ve been casting envious glances across the border at Melton  to see how food can be a boost to the local economy. It could simply be that they’ve woken up to what’s on their doorstep. Whatever the case, it’s good to see Charnwood – with the support of the National Forest, Everards and  Leicester Shire Promotions  – has taken the step of launching a little local food festival. Dl FCover illo-AW-print

The Edible Forest is a weekend of events from 16 to 18 September that highlights some of the best local food and drink producers, and at some of the fabulous locations in the borough – from iconic Old John in Bradgate Park to the depths of the Outwoods. The events include:

Friday 16 September
– Afternoon tea with local produce in Old John Tower .
– Cocktails and canapes at a secret garden in the heart of the ancient woods of Charnwood.

Saturday 17 September
– The Enchanted Forest – a family event  in the heart of the forest combining tasting from the region’s finest producers with entertainment.

Sunday 18 September
– Build your own Perfect Picnic –  a hands-on opportunity to create your perfect picnic to be enjoyed in the beautiful gardens of Swithland’s Griffin Inn.

– The Secret Gourmet – much-missed local chef  Paul Leary, currently working in the corporate sphere, will create a fine dining forest-inspired gourmet menu to be served at Nanpantan Hall, a rarely-used and  extraordinary venue hidden in the heart of Charnwood Forest.

For more details on the Edible Forest and to book tickets for the various events, visit www.edibleforest.co.uk. Bookings open on Monday 15th August.

PS. I hear the organisers have struggled to find cheesemakers within Charnwood. If  that sounds like you, maybe get in touch with them?

Swan sells out

August 7, 2016

Don’t think it was the power of the recommendation on this blog, but the  Swan and Rushes Sri Lankan street food “weekender” turned out a bit of a misnomer – popularity was  such they sold out of everything by early Saturday evening.

I appreciate the difficulties in planning for these kind of one-off events but this  was somewhat irritating for those of us like me who planned our day around eating there at 7pm. Ho hum. On the positive side, I’m delighted there are places in my city that are prepared to try something different now and again, and particularly pleased there seems to be a market for creative food events. Other venues may like to take note.  The Swan has apologised and promise they will doing the event again, so those who missed out on what I hear was great food should get another chance.

Quick heads up on a couple of attractive food events this weekend in Leicester.

The Swans and Rushes,  a terrific traditional pub on Oxford Street (near the Infirmary) that does a great line in draught and bottled ales and pizzas, is having a Sri Lankan and Indian streetfood takeover.  Not sure of the menu but the pub states that starting from 3pm on Friday  chef Samith “will be executing some home grown Sri Lankan recipes.” It runs over and Saturday and  I reckon it might be worth a trip.

Then there’s the official launch event  for Delilah at 4 St Martins on Friday afternoon. Readers of this blog should know all about this place but if you’ve not managed to get down yet then  this launch – open to the public at 4pm – will see plenty of free tasters and a chance to meet some of the many producers who supply this great delicatessen.

 

 

 

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