Over the past weeks, I’ve eaten at this pub quite frequently, so I believe that I can give a solid assessment of the food here. This post will focus on two meals, a dinner and a Sunday lunch. This way, one gets both parts of the menu: The classic British tradition that is the Sunday roast, and the normal menu on offer here.
Let’s start off with the dinner. On a Monday night, I met with a friend, who had eaten here once before. We were warmly greeted and had a glass of wine at the warming fireplace. This was most comfortable, and we were given all the time in the world to finish our glass before going to our table. In terms of drinks we had brought two bottles: A 2007 St Joseph, “Lieu dit St. Joseph” from Guigal and a red 2004 Chateauneuf du Pape, “La Crau”, domaine du Vieux Telegraphe. The Guigal was intensively smoky on the nose at first, but later revealed to be less dominated by smoke on the palate. This was a very well made St. Joseph, that was a huge pleasure to drink. The Chateauneuf was quite powerful, as was to be expected, but again, was an absolutely beautiful wine. You can hardly go wrong with such wines. To finish we each had a glass of Taittinger’s basic NV Champagne. It’s a decent wine, but nothing that will blow your socks off.
To start off, one would be a fool if one wouldn’t order the Scotch egg. It’s just immensely satisfying to eat: Crunchy breading, thin layer of venison meat, and a creamy egg. With it came another of my favourite things here: The raw venison with a cream of foie gras on toast. Ohhhh, this is good, believe me, I’d love them to do a starter of venison carpaccio with a thin layer of this cream underneath it, and a few croutons on top. That would be one of the best starters in town. Divine.
Next up was a dish Stephen (Williams, the chef here) wanted us to try: A creamed chicken soup with chicken wings. This was one great bowl of rich, deeply-flavoured chicken broth, to which a bit of cream was added. When one drank it, one had both the cream and clear broth, which made a great, very rewarding sip of soup. The accompanying chicken wings were a little on the sweet side for the both us, but as this was a first try, I’m sure there’ll be some fine tuning done on this. Excellent for the chicken broth, less for the wings.
First starter proper was the confit salmon with broccoli. This was served cold, something I would not have expected, and was simply a plate of perfectly cooked food. You couldn’t argue about this dish: Very good salmon, cooked beautifully, a nice little herb cream to freshen things up a bit, a bit of broccoli salad, simply dressed and well cooked (with some bite to it), and a few slivers of this and that to add colour and texture to the dish. What more can you expect for around £6 or so? Very good.
Another starter was a smoked eel tarte with rhubarb and celeriac. This was simply great. One of the finest starters I’ve eaten here over the last months. The tarte had the perfect balance between the slightly sweet/sour rhubarb, smoky eel and crunchy puff pastry. The accompanying cream added a welcome little acidic kick, and one was very well off eating this. Excellent, and beautiful with the Guigal.
Up next was the first of the meat courses: a cutlet of lamb was grilled and served with a haggis croquette and green sauce. Boy, this croquette was a killer! Lusciously creamy, and intense in terms of flavour, the haggis (my first ever) was great. I don’t know if I will eat a better haggis than this in the future, but if I get more stuff like that, I’m more than a happy punter! The lamb was great too: the charcoal flavours from the grill were present, giving the meat a little smoky component. The accompanying greens (I think it was a bit of cabbage), was simply exquisite. I rarely get excited about this kind of stuff, but here I loved it. Excellent.
The next main course was a braised ox cheek with mashed potatoes and onions. Another winner, with meat that really didn’t neat a knife to be cut, and a great, hearty jus. The mashed potatoes are still used in rather generous portions, which is a little annoying for some, but that’s the concession to pub food they have to make I suppose. The onion rings were great too, with beautiful texture and flavour. Very good. (unfortunately I didn’t get a decent pic of that one)
The last main course was a slow cooked duck leg, with mashed peas or something of the sort and a delicious crunchy potato ring. Nothing wrong here then, great, very tender, braised duck meat, with the crunchy potatoes as counterpart and a beautiful confit of more meat and the peas underneath it all. Very good indeed.
Desserts today were their classic doughnuts, light and airy filled with some kind of slightly bitter citrus fruit marmalade, and dipped into honeyed cream. Great stuff.
Second came a rice pudding with Clementine (?) sorbet and grapefruit jelly. This was great, with the interaction of the creamty rich rice, slightly tart, bitter jelly and the very refhreshing sorbet. Very good.
Last of the bunch was the sticky toffee sandwich, which I love. A parfait is sandwiched between two thin slices of bread and eaten like an ice cream sandwich. Very good.
Now, part two about the Sunday Lunch will follow soon, so stayed tuned. Great wines and food were had there too…