Saturday, 20 May 2017

Black Swan, Oldstead (revisit)

Described as "hideous" and a "creation of the devil” due to his disfigurements, for much of the story, the title character in Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, is kept hidden away in the cathedral’s tower.

At the family owned Black Swan, charming older brother James Banks conducts the warmly welcoming and entirely unpretentious front of house operation whilst his younger sibling Tommy Banks is largely kept hidden in the kitchen.

This is not due to his resemblance to Quasimodo – Tommy happens to be a very handsome chap; his appearance on Great British Menu have left many swooning – it’s down to the fact that he’s an enormously talented young chef. His Michelin star is a testament to this (his talent that is, they don’t give out stars for good looks).


I last visited The Black Swan in October 2013 (here), since then they have invested heavily (financially, conceptually and passionately) in their growing operation – heritage variety crops, herbs, root vegetables, leafy greens and edible flowers are all in the garden and on the menus. Preservation techniques including pickling, fermenting and clamping all play a key role too.

The bread has improved a lot too… their sourdough, paired with a sour, cultured butter is one of the best bread and butter pairings I’ve enjoyed.


Another highlight was the fabulous scallop dish – baked in its shell with a smoked spruce butter and served with pickled spruce tips, celeriac purée and an intensely zingy brambly apple jus (picked and processed at the end of Autumn).  


Smoked Eel and Apple


Mussel with Oyster Leaf


Langoustine with Caramelised Whey


Ox Cheek with Chive


Sour Bread and Sour Butter


Raw Red Deer


Crapaudine Beetroot cooked slowly in Beef Fat


Scallop with Pickled Spruce


Cheviot Lamb with Turnip & Mint


Brown Butter and Rhubarb


Sheep's Milk with Douglas Fir Oil



Cake made from Artichoke, Chicory Root and Thyme



Thursday, 29 December 2016

Freemasons at Wiswell

These pics are from a fantastic lunch on 23rd December. A little pre-Christmas present to myself.


Apple Tartlet


Wild hare, black pudding & apple mayo


Rosemary & sea salt bread


Crème fraiche butter with foie gras


Wild Game – baked in brioche, roast foie gras, sauce of red wine & truffle


Lemon Sole cooked in brown butter, leek fondue, Southport potted shrimp


Blade of Beef – slow cooked in beer, sticky cheek, hen of the woods, charred spring onion, Xo sauce


Duck Fat Chips


Cauliflower Cheese


Seasonal Vegetables


Quince – Autumn spices, brown butter ice cream, ginger bread crumbs, roasted quince soup




Citrus – meringue pie inspired by Wiswell Moor



Petit fours
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