The Wicked Witch

August 4, 2012

News reaches me at last of  Dameon Clarke. It was a great shame when he had to close his Stamford restaurant Assiette late last year, so it’s good to see that  he’s pitched up again in the region, this time at The Wicked Witch in Ryhall, a few miles north of Stamford. The restaurant is a glammed-up village pub that reopened earlier this year when a Peterborough-based team including Darren Ferguson, son of Sir Alex and manager of Peterborough United, decided that there was scope for another venue for people who regularly pack out places such as the Olive Branch in Clipsham and the George in Stamford.

Judging from the website it looks smart, aspirational and a teeny bit sterile.  The food should be great whatever – the menu looks a lightly reined-in version of Clarke’s trademark  technical  exuberance.  My first order would  be hot ham hock, quail egg and pea puree, followed by pan friend fillet of sea bass with cauliflower textures, lobster caviar and ginger bhaji, ending up with choclate tonka bean mousse, pistachio marshmallow and orange jelly.  

Good luck Dameon – hope this works out for you.

Dameon Clarke

March 31, 2011

Had an enjoyable chat on Wednesday with Dameon Clarke, he of the recently opened Assiette in Stamford and, as regular readers will be aware, a highly talented and adventurous chef.

For the full story you will need to see the next edition of Great Food Leicestershire and Rutland   but for the time being here’s A Few Things I Now Know About Dameon Clarke:

1) He’s from Coalville.

2) He was in the same Leicester City boys’ squad as Emile Heskey.

3) He was suspended from his first job after a fight with a waiter.

4) He did a spell as commis at Le Gavroche.

5) The Asian influence in his cooking came from a year travelling around Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.

6) He had intended to settle in Australia and has an Aussie passport.

7)  He’s hoping for three AA rosettes and wouldn’t say no to a Michelin star eventually.

8 ) He’s hoping by the summer to get a barbecue installed in the garden of Assiette and sell people Oz-style barbecue packs that they can cook themselves while they sit outside.

9) Actually I think 8 is enough.

Assiette update

March 1, 2011

Quick update to yesterday’s post – the Assiette website is now fully populated. It’s good to see Clarke has taken most of his team from the Collyweston Slater with him to Stamford. I see a couple of familiar dishes from that venue  are present in developed form. I’m sure some will be sceptical about dishes such as beetroot risotto with goats cheese ice cream, horseradish foam and dried beetroot duxelle or tonka bean pannacotta with cola sherbet and lemon ice – but on previous acquaintance I’d definitely recommend giving the place a try.

New openings

February 28, 2011

A little news on a couple of  new openings.  Not that I can offer much to say about them as I’ve not been yet and nor as of the last day of February do they have fully functioning websites but some of you might appreciate the information nonetheless.

Of especial interest  is Assiette  in Stamford. I appreciate Stamford is strictly speaking not in Leicestershire or Rutland, but I’m excited about this as it is the new restaurant of Dameon Clarke, who’s  complex, unashamedly show-off  food I’ve massively enjoyed at Nick’s in Oakham and more recently at his –  now former – pub the Collyweston Slater. Opened last week, hope to go soon – reports welcome in the meantime.

A new little Italian called La Vida has opened on Northampton St in Leicester city centre, on the site of a former Thai Restaurant. It looks a modest, intimate kind of place and while there’s no menu on display, a peek through the window at the specials board showed monkfish was on offer, so hopefully they’ve got a proper chef  in there.

*Update – forgot to mention there is also now  a branch of Hot Rocks on Braunstone Gate.  The gimmick of this franchise business is to offer steaks for you to cook at your own table on preheated volcanic stones. One can’t help but be sceptical here – if I wanted the freedom to cook a £10 steak the way I prefer,  I’d get down to Archer’s  on Queen’s Road to pick out a hefty South Devon ribeye and cook it at home. And flames would be involved in the cooking somewhere.  It’s not going to be Hawksmoor   or  Goodman’s , but those with a steak craving may want to give it a try.

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