Perfect deep frying in the smoked eel and Parmesan croquette - golden brown and crispy on the outside, light fluffy potato on the side. Watercress for a sharp contrast to the richness of deep frying. The bits of smoked eel are scarce, and lend an occasional smoky flavour, and it wasn't easy to catch the Parmesan cheese. The saffron aioli was sunshine.
Duck breast is beautifully done, an elegant thin rim of luscious fat, tender and firm smoky rich meat. The duck was enhanced with sweet, fruity kumquat compote of some sort, excellent with mustard seeds and just a tiny bit of tanginess. Pickled walnuts didn't do much beyond a slow broad tone of sourness. A scatter of pomegranates seeds for more bright juicy acidity, and vegetal tasting (what I thought might be) pea shoots. The pan fried ewe milk cheese was relatively inert.
Aromatic and delicate woodsy flavours from sauteed mushrooms, with tarragon yogurt as a creamy tangy and herbal foil, and crispy polenta sticks nicely breaded with a reasonably soft texture within; the advertised rosemary was probably on the subtle side.
Pork meatballs have a nuanced cumin flavour, with cilantro for a light contrast, and a base of greek yogurt, dense and thick, a blanket over the pig.
Drank a (copied from their website): 2006 Pyramid Valley, Calvert Vineyard, Bannockburn, Central Otago NZ. Bright, big and curvaceous in the berry and fruit department, but with a pinot noir thinness texturally. Well balanced, if a bit on the tannic side (hey, it's only 3 years old) but mellowed nicely in the glass. A soft lick of acidity (but not much), and perhaps hints of spice, though it might be hard to tell after what I ate. For some reason I imagined ginger, perhaps reinforced by the heat of the alcohol in the finish. A slight woodsy side showed with the mushrooms, and the fruit held up elegantly to the kumquat and dress, a potentially complicated matching. Did well against the pork meatballs as well, the soft but fruity wine wrapping around the pork and cumin nicely. Considering the mileage I got from the wine in terms of pairing (I was careful to choose pinot noir friendly stuff, but still), and the complexity and structure of the wine, I didn't think it was a bad deal at £15 a glass, even if it was initially a touch gritty and took a while to settle down and brighten up to its final vibrancy.
Loved the rhubarb and vanilla cream, flavourful and rich, perked up with a tangy citrusy jelly layer of satusuma and cointreau. All perfectly delicious but understand, with components that worked well together. But the ginger donut on top had a flat cardboard like tasting texture, there's no doubt it wasn't fried fresh to order.
Complex dishes with many parts that come together well. Perhaps little nit picky issues here and there re: some of the dishes, but nothing major. Pleasant meal overall, decent value, maybe very very slight pricey for about £43 for the food. Neither exorbitant nor a bargain.
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