It’s just on two years since we were last at L’Enclume and there’s been some changes in that time. The thirteen course menu was then priced at £70 and is now £89. But the food is now much “cleaner” in its flavours and preparation. Gone are the foams and slightly wacky presentations. In are much more straightforward flavours but, of course, still in interesting combinations. Frankly, it’s an improvement (in my view, of course). There’s been staff changes – a new sommelier started at Christmas and a waiter was working his first shift. Service remained seamless, however. This is a well oiled machine and you know you’re going to be looked after.
Vegetarians are well catered for by a thirteen courser, which can be cut down to eight. However, as omnivores we opted for the mixed thirteen courser (well, eight was never going to be enough for a couple of greedy so-and-so’s). Here’s the menu:
Onion cheese wafers, oyster pebbles, carrot lobster sacks.
Cod “yolk” with ham and radish, salt and vinegar
Dumplings of turnip in Westcombe cheddar, alexanders and rock samphire
Valley venison, shallots, mustard and fennel
Jerusalem artichokes, Ragstone cream, tarragon, malt
Roasted snow crown in beef broth, parsley and English cultivated mushrooms
Pink Fir cooked in chicken fat, crab and horseradish
Roasted monkfish in our spices, kiri squash, yoghurt and raspberry vinegar
Reg’s duck breast with chicory, duck sweetbread and mulled cider
Chestnut, honeyoats, anise hyssop, apple
Fig and malted cream, Williams pear ice
Sweet clover yoghurt with nuts, rhubarb, brown sugar
Aerated parkin meringue
To our somewhat surprise, there were no duffers amongst this lot, although we agreed the Jerusalem artichoke dish was our least favourite. It just didn’t seem to come together.
Stand-outs were led by the cod “yolk – in fact a cod mousse, coloured to effect and topped with a small sheet of ham jelly. Sweet, salty and slippery in the mouth. The roasted snow crown cauliflower was a masterpiece – intense flavour of the veg boosted even more by the excellent rich broth. The seemingly simple fried Pink Fir, sat on a little crabmeat, tasting of potato and chicken, the hint of horseradish giving a little bite. Inevitable, the duck was from Reg Johnson at Goosnargh and, inevitably, it was superb – just a couple of thin slices, perfectly rare – but the addition of crisped sweetbreads made it a lovely thing to eat.
Desserts were all very good, with perhaps the fig one winning a tight race. The fig sat at the bottom of the bowl, topped with the rich cream, itself topped with the pear granita. Truly excellent.
There was good coffee and petit fours to finish off.