After many attempts to get to Sat and Amanda’s place, we finally made it for my birthday last weekend. It’s in a slightly unusual spot for a former Hotel, in that it’s near a flyover and next to a large pylon-but any thoughts about that were dissipated by the warm welcome and then being ensconced in our rather nice room. The missus and I had opted to partake of the deluxe package they offered and which rather takes all the decisions out of one’s hands. And so, after a brief rest, we were treated first to champagne and oysters outside in the pleasant garden. One served raw with lemon and Tabasco and a delicious, utterly greaseless tempura oyster with a dollop of lemon mayonnaise. A lovely start
On moving through to the conservatory dining room, we were served what looked like two little tonics in small corked glass bottles- one green and one orange. The latter was actually a carrot, apple and ginger tonic and worked well as a palate cleanser as Robin suggested above. The other was a green gazpacho which contained- asparagus, cucumber and fennel. This was to be poured into a little white bowl which already had a drizzle of olive oil and bread within it. Again- really fresh, clear cut flavours melded well together.
Three more appetisers arrived in the form of a delicious foam like Butternut squash foam -given added texture and crunch by some pumpkin seeds. Followed by shrimp tempura, which was supplied with a little spray of Yuzu to give a citric hit. I didn’t quite get it as I used far too little according to the missus. We finished with the rich chicken liver parfait served on a white china spoon, with two kernels of sweet toffee like popcorn. It showed that a real effort had been made to make these little appetisers fun and this was evident in the room on the faces of all who tried them.
Duck Egg 62 degrees- Bellota ham- Peas - Sherry Syrup
So next came the winning dish he took to France and hell did it work. The peas came in three forms as far as I could tell. Fresh peas, pea shoots and an excellent pea sorbet. The chilled sorbet was just a joy when mixed with warm unctuous yolk. Extra tastes of slightly salty Bellota ham and texture of some crisped bread completed the dish. Some may have an issue with the texture of the egg white, which whilst perfectly cooked, is still slightly gelatinous- but not me as I loved it.
Foie Gras “Emulsified“- Granola- Banana- Fine Beans.
A cylinder of foie like mousse was coated in crunchy granola, the slightly salty foie being counteracted by the sweet banana puree. Again, texture was given by the crunch of the green beans. I am not sure how the foie had been emulsified as I thought this was a mixture of miscible components. I should have asked Sat - very pleasant if not our favourite dish of the night.
Belly Pork- Langoustine - Roast Paw- Tartare of Langoustine- Apple- Raisin syrup
Being very cheeky- I had asked Sat to prepare the belly pork dish having seen it prepared for a Roux Scholars meal some time back. Cooked sous vide- I think for 60 hours- the belly pork disc was delicious- although presented differently to the dish I remember, which was served in slivers. However, I felt rather guilty that the belly pork to me played second fiddle to the perfect langoustine and an unexpected surprise of…… a tartare of langoustine sitting atop the pork. This was just superb and as Sat explained, not worth attempting unless the langoustines are utterly first rate.
Organic Salmon- Vanilla - Almonds- Beach Vegetables- Oysters- “ Richard Corrigan”
An extra dish and a homage to the dish that Corrigan took to Paris for the competition- although Sat’s salmon was cooked Sous Vide. Good textures and very fresh tasting. Personally, I think fish cooked in this manner rarely fails to please but I suspect that oyster may have been omitted from our final dish as neither of us can remember it.
Spring Lamb “ Sous Vide”-Ratatouille- Manni Olive Oil-Braised Shank Gravy.
This was a lovely dish - a drizzle of the nose bleedingly expensive oil being poured over the lamb at the table. A sensible portion of tender lamb- served beautifully pink, but the fat having been crisped up after the sous vide cooking process had been finished. Simple in conception and perfectly executed.
A mention at this point about our wine. As part of our package, we each had the wine flight which was rather good and explained incredibly well by the very affable Assistant manager- James. Now like most here, I do like a light ale, but I have to say the measures were more than generous. In fact when the first glass of wine arrived - I remember thinking if they are all like that I would genuinely struggle (and also have to carry the missus back to the room). But the quantity provided, which was more measured for intervening courses, for me, worked incredibly well. Such that I had a moderate amount to finish as the next wine arrived once or twice. But then, I talk too fucking much which probably explains it. More importantly, the wines worked solidly well for me and I appreciated James’ candour. Stating that although he was not a Sommelier - he just wanted to know why a wine worked with a course and not the minutiae of which fannying direction the wind was blowing, when Ursa Major was arising over a particular vineyard in mid June, and how this affected the grapes as they were picked by a French virgin. (My words not his)
Back to the food, as we then moved onto to Sat’s version of “Cheese on toast”. This was, as described above, a melted rectangle of Brie de meaux on crisp Poilane bread, with grated summer truffle; and it was absolutely delicious.
Puddings then started with a pineapple and yoghurt foam with liquorice, which was pleasant. This was followed by a quenelle of rich chocolate with sea salt violets and a wonderful pastille made out of olive oil. Technically brilliant and although small- my favourite pudding. We ended with strawberries with what seemed like a chantilly vanilla cream. Again very nice.
Service too was just great from all the young and smartly attired staff and the pace of the meal was just perfect in that although the first dishes came out in good time, but then the pace then slowed perfectly, to allow us to enjoy the entire meal.
Gourmet chocolates, which were also included in our package, came in the form off a milk chocolate truffle, a chocolate lollipop, an Earl grey scented chocolate and the best being a luscious , white chocolate containing salted butter caramel. Following an Earl Grey tea and brandy for me in the lounge- I really didn’t need that bottle of Kriek beer to take back to our room to watch “Wossy” on the box. I wholly blame Robin for even mentioning the beer menu, which is what made me do it. Damm you Sir.
Breakfast too was very good and I love the fact that baked beans were served up along side all of the usual suspects of a traditional English breakfast. If more Michelin starred gaffs did this - the world would be a better place. Oh hold on -hurrah - a minor gripe at last. My bacon was far too crispy. Er, that’s it as gripes go.
What we also both thought showed a huge commitment to their business was the fact that though Sat and Amanda don’t live on site, theyare still there every weekend morning. It transpires that people staying over, want and expect to see them to chat over the night before and so they drive there every weekend.
Our overall impressions were what a wonderful place and what a down to earth couple they are. Sat’s obviously incredibly passionate about his craft and you’ll notice from the descriptions above that the key elements to his food are Taste - Texture and Temperature. The overriding ethos that pervades is that people should just kick back and have a good time whilst there and that’s just what we did.
Edited by Bapi, 15 June 2007 - 01:50 AM.