When, at the end of last year, I announced that I’d be taking a break from writing “detailed” blog posts, I knew It would take a special restaurant to inspire me to pen a few words and not just upload the pics.
John’s House is a special restaurant.
The back story: John Duffin grew up on Stonehurst Farm – a working family farm which also operates as a fun family day out. You know the kind of thing… where families, schools and groups take the kids to pet animals; explore the nature trail and ride on tractors and ponies. The farm also boasts a motor museum, tea rooms and farm shop.
At some point, I assume, John decided that working in his family’s tea rooms would not fulfil his ambitions as a chef. After training with Gary Rhodes and with spells in the two Michelin starred kitchens of Claude Bosi and Marcus Wareing, Duffin went on to work with two chefs whose influences clearly had a huge impact on his food – Texture’s Agnar Sverrisson and Simon Rogan.
The latest chapter: like his mentors, Chef John Duffin and his talented brigade produce artfully presented dishes with a clever creative edge. The Heritage carrots dish was a great example of a chef allowing delicate natural flavours to shine but the use of mint meant the dish still packed a punch.
Visually striking, confident and deftly balanced, the Loch Duart salmon was another winner. Cleverly textured with toasted buckwheat, sea buckthorn added a smack of acidity a combination that was evident too in the hazelnuts and grapefruit which accompanied the Lightly salted fillet of cod.
For me, Rogan’s influence was evident in much of the plating and saucing but most noticeably in the Smoked Pig’s Head Nugget snack and my favourite fish of the tasting menu, the Pink Fir potatoes cooked in roast chicken fat, smoked eel, English mustard & burnt leek.
The Michelin perspective: “A 16C farmhouse where the eponymous and talented John was born and now cooks; his family also own the surrounding farm with its shop, café, petting farm and motor museum. Produce from the surrounding fields is used to create original, interesting dishes which show a real understanding of textures and flavours.”
Snacks: Mushroom Macaron
Snacks: Smoked Pig’s Head Nugget
Breads: Onion & Thyme Roll / Seeded Buttermilk / Homemade Butter
Heritage carrots with ox tongue, crème fraiche & mint
Cured and flame grilled Loch Duart salmon, oyster cream, sea buckthorn & toasted buckwheat
Pink Fir potatoes cooked in roast chicken fat, smoked eel, English mustard & burnt leek
Lightly salted fillet of cod, pearl barley risotto, grapefruit & brown shrimps
Stonehurst Gloucester Old Spot piglet, passion fruit, curry spices, peanut & aubergine
Carrot sorbet, yoghurt, liquorice & mint
Blood orange curd, fennel & dark chocolate sorbet
Coffee & sweets