Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Fraiche, Oxton #MichelinStar

This year, my wife and I will be celebrating 14 years of happy marriage… sometimes I wonder what she sees in me, then I remember I take her to Fraiche each year on Valentine’s Night. That’s gotta be what keeps her interested, right?

Of course, every night at Fraiche is special but on the 14th Feb, Marc and the team always plan a few extra surprises – little gifts, a quiz, rose petals strewn on the tables and alike. Proper lovey dovey stuff.

Enough waffle, now to the real lovely stuff… the food!

After the obligatory Spiced Pecans (a Fraiche favourite), what followed were a couple of fun, zingy appetisers which showed off Marc’s inventive, skilled and playful cooking – his take on the classic Cheese & Pineapple and an Apple Cloud, served with an apple gel and oyster leaves.

Next came an elegant Scallop Tartare – with a disc of yuzu jelly, popcorn, grape and a hint of Périgord truffle.

In purée form, the next dish featured Butternut Squash – this was topped with a light, airy goat’s cheese mousse, pumpkin seeds & grated chestnut. A deftly balanced dish with clever use of textures.

Breads – with tomato butter & a beurre demi-sel

With it’s freshness and vibrancy, the Artichoke dish was the best of the evening for me – crowned with shaved foie gras, it consisted of pickled and puréed artichoke with a slow cooked yolk. Flavour accents came from verjus and slithers of smoked duck.

Bread: Mushroom Brioche with toasted goat’s butter.

Allowing its natural flavours to shine, the Skrei Cod was absolutely divine – celery, wild sea kale, Périgord truffle & parsley oil completed the dish.

Before the main, another example of Marc’s creative, skilled and playful edge came in the form of a perfectly formed Wagyu Beef Slider – this was a joy to eat!

With its rich and intense flavours, the Wagyu Beef main was one of those dishes that managed to be both hearteningly rustic and yet still refined. The Cevenne onion braised in wagyu dripping, madeira braised salsify and indulgent cep sauce being three elements that I found particularly pleasing.

As is the norm at Fraiche, we then got to choose “Salt” or “Sweet” for dessert. We opted for one of each to share. We both received the same palate cleanser – a Lemon, Basil & Tonka Bean granita. 

The “Salt” option commenced with a Lychee, Mint & Black Sesame espuma and tuile, whilst the “Sweet” offering was the Fraiche favourite, Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Sour Cherry.

A major plus of the “Salt” is getting to choose 5 cheeses from the ever impressive cheese chariot – my wife chose Reblochon and a particular fine, ripe Eve (a soft bloomy rinded cheese, washed lightly with cider brandy and wrapped in a vine leaf); my choices were the fabulous Morn Dew, a favourite in Beauvale (a continental style blue from the makers of Cropwell Bishop) and the herb & bird’s eye chilli encrusted Brin d'Amour, which seemed fitting as it translates as “strand of love”.

The main “Sweet” dessert was a crowd pleasing plate of all things Chocolate & Apricot.

When you think it’s all over, during Tea (Malawi Antlers) & Coffee, a succession of sweet treats arrived, Peanut Butter Cornettos”, Fizzy Grapes, Raspberry Lips, Chocolates and the most delightful Compressed Rhubarb.

As the designated driver, I opted for the rather delicious and inventive Juice Flight

Virgin Mojito / Dandelion & Burdock / Apple, Kiwi & Wheatgrass

Fennel Tea / Lemon Barley / Blueberry & Blackcurrant

As usual, our evening and Fraiche was truly magical and my wife is guaranteed to love me for another year.

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