Sunday, 1 May 2016

Machine House - Rossett, Wales

The Machine House is a Michelin guide listed restaurant in the picturesque town of Rossett – just over the Welsh border / a short drive from Chester.

Housed in a former agricultural machinery repair shop, the kitchen has recently been taken over by Head Chef Kevin Lynn (formerly of the Belle Époque in Knutsford).

A few points of “constructive criticism”:

·      It would be helpful to put on the website the fact that the Tasting Menu (£55) is only available in the evenings. I wouldn’t have driven for an hour if I’d known that only the lunch menu was available (3 courses for £22:50).

·      Portions are very small – thankfully I ordered an additional dish (but still left feeling unsatisfied). I do have a healthy appetite but throughout 500+ posts on this blog I don’t think this is something I have ever felt the need to comment on previously.

·      The tables were set with side plates and butter knives but no bread was forthcoming – when I requested some, the waiter wasn’t sure if they had any and had to “check with the kitchen” before a couple of slices where rustled up.

·      A few technical issues – the brown crab meat “emulsion” lacked the expected smack of crabby flavour; the “compressed” was more like a compote and the rhubarb dish as a whole lacked any of the expected sharpness.

Other than these “niggles”, the food showed a lot of promise and I’d certainly recommend the Machine House as “one to watch”.

Flaked Welsh crab meat, crab emulsion & sea herbs

Potato and truffle mousse, woodland mushrooms & wild garlic

Breast of Welsh lamb, celeriac, sweetbread, lamb fat potatoes

Compressed forced rhubarb, rhubarb sorbet, sable crumble

Saturday, 30 April 2016

St. John Restaurant #MichelinStar

With ace looking new places opening weekly in London and an ever-growing wish list of restaurants I’m yet to dine at, I don’t get back to my old favourites anywhere near as much as I’d like… that’s why a rare treat of a trip to St. John is so special.

Pickled Mackerel, Potato & Spinach

Cold Roast Lamb, Green Beans & Anchovy

Rabbit Offal, Dandelion & Shallots

Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad

Lamb Sweetbreads, Turnips & Bacon (1/2 Portion)

Snails, Sausage & Chickpea

New Potatoes

Bread Pudding & Butterscotch Sauce

Madeleines (One Dozen)

Date of dinner: Friday 1st April

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Rose Garden, West Didsbury

A restaurant named The Rose Garden conjures up images of a quaint country cottage fronted by an ornamental lawn with rose shrubs and a neatly trimmed buxus hedge. With its clean lines and stark white canvas, the West Didsbury favourite is more like a city centre balcony space. Pops of bold colour – electric blue, saffron and candy apple red – complete its bright, modern décor.

Where it matters – on the plate – the food is equally vibrant. The food is seasonal with a regularly changing menu. Where possible, ingredients are supplied by some of the area’s best independent retailers – fish from Out of the Blue and meat from W.H. Frost.

I started with ‘Green, Eggs & Ham’ – a pea velouté with capers & parsley, ham hock and a crispy poached quail’s egg. I love anything with a caper and this was no exception. All aspects were cooked well – with the expected “money shot” coming when I cut into the crispy poached quail’s egg. Although, I did find heavy handed pepper seasoning overpowered the more spring like flavours.

My wife had the ‘Assiette of Scallops’ – a garlicky tartare with tangy apple and sweet vanilla cured and brûléed scallops. Once again, we both felt the seasoning to be “generous” in the least.

My main ‘Lamb & Peas’ – rump pf lamb was a better dish than the starter when it came to seasoning. The meat, lamb jus and jersey royal rosti were delightful with the peas and caper salsa adding a spring of freshness. My most unpernickety criticism would be with regards the ‘sweetbread croquette’ which I found an unnecessary bastardisation of a sweetbread.

My wife opted for the ‘Sweetheart Cassoulet’ – a flavourful veggie option that I’m sure would keep many meat eaters satisfied. An acidic mixed bean cassoulet with dinky Jersey Royals, saffron aíoli and roasted sweetheart cabbage.

Sides of Colcannon Mash and Truffle & Parmesan Chips were spot on!

We finished with ‘Malted Milk Bavarois’ – salted caramel, peanut butter ice cream, bubble wrap chocolate crisp (yep, you read that right). A mighty fine dessert – lovely textures and flavours.

I like The Rose Garden – it’s a family run independent that offers great value for money. What’s not to like? There are always interesting, seasonal dishes on the menu which showcase some delightful ingredients. Give ‘em a follow on Twitter ‪@rosegardendids to keep updated.  

I previously posted blogged The Rose Garden in May 2012 – see here.

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