Last night, we had the absolute pleasure of eating the seasonal seven course menu at this new restaurant on the outskirts of Bath. Upon walking in, you will see it is quite a small dining room but this adds to the intimate feeling, and you also get to watch the Michelin-trained chef at work as he creates his magic in the kitchen.
After ordering a lovely Chilean merlot (my favourite!), we were given some delicious bread to nibble on. One of the reasons I love coming to restaurants like these is the creativity that goes into ensuring that it is an interesting and fun dining experience, and the scientific equipment that this course was served in ticked all the right boxes!
In the sealed brown paper bag, we both had a chunky slice of warm ‘Carrot and Coriander’ and ‘Bloody Mary’ bread, each perfectly cooked and full of flavour. In the accompanying test tubes we had a reduced balsamic vinegar and a bottle of herby olive oil, and as a starter this was spot on.
Next came the wild mushroom espuma (foam), topped with fennel seeds and truffle oil, beautifully served in small espresso cups. A lot of the foams I have had at restaurants in the past have been very light and almost melted away as soon as the dish was served but this was a lot more robust and I would describe it as being more like a whipped up soup. The rich and woody taste of the mushrooms came through perfectly and this dish was lovely with our bread dipped in.
Next came our starters. Ian opted for beetroot and cumin cured sea bream, with an avocado puree and a fennel salad. This was again beautifully presented, and the salad was a tangy and refreshing accompaniment to the robust fish.
I chose a dish of rabbit, Bath pig chorizo risotto and shallots. The slow-cooked rabbit was wonderfully tender and just fell off the bone. The risotto was rich and well-flavoured and all the separate parts of the dish came together well.
Our next amuse bouche was the dish I had some trepidation about – smoked eel with lime and honey. I shouldn’t have worried as it was divine! It was the first time I had eaten eel and I imagined quite an overpowering flavour but these few mouthfuls were delicately balanced, with the rich smokiness of the fish and the subtle lime and honey dressing complementing each other perfectly.
For our main courses, Ian ordered the grey mullet, which was served with confit chicken wings, baby fennel and a decadent champagne butter sauce. This very modern ‘surf and turf’ was delectable, with the fennel keeping the dish very light. The fish in particular was very well cooked and flavoursome.
I had a slightly heartier main course of guinea fowl, roasted artichokes and pickled cabbage served with a rich gravy made from the meat juices. I had two good sized piece of meat, which were tender and juicy. My only niggle was that although the cabbage was delicious on its own, it was quite a strong flavour which slightly overpowered the guinea fowl.
Our next palate cleanser was an interesting combination of blackberry sorbet, marinated cucumber, kale water and crystallized dill. The sorbet was delicious and bursting with flavour. The cucumber added a lovely crunch but I think the slightly salted kale water divided us slightly. Nevertheless it was refreshing after the main course and I’m always keen to try new flavour combinations.
Finally, it was time for puddings and both were absolutely divine and I’m glad we went halves on them as I wouldn’t want to have to choose between them!
The first was a chocolate and mango soufflé which was so light and fluffy it just melted in the mouth. It was served with a deliciously creamy pumpkin ice cream and some walnuts which added another interesting texture. This whole dish went together perfectly and has made me determined to master the perfect soufflé.
The other dessert was s modern take on rhubarb and custard. This dish contained custard, rhubarb jelly, poached rhubarb and sweet vanilla rice topped with crushed almond cake pieces. This perfectly balanced the tangy rhubarb with indulgent creamy rice pudding and my only complaint was that I would have liked a larger bowl!
Overall, this menu was exciting and deliciously matched with interesting palate cleansers in between. The location is slightly off the beaten path but is well worth the journey. With an ever-changing seasonal menu, using lots of local ingredients and presented beautifully, I hope to keep coming back here and enjoying Gordon Jones’ fabulous food.