We had an early booking arriving at 6:30 for drinks at The Peg & Patriot, the bar next door. Got things going with a peg vodka martini, complete with olive crisp and board, tasted aniseedy, wanted gin.
We knew we were heading out for drinks after the meal so opted for the a la carte menu instead of a tasting menu, turns out it would have been better value to go for the tasting option, so I'd definitely do that if were I to return. Anyway, we ordered different dishes for each course and tried everything. Here's what we had.
Bread was lovely, a brioche bun and an olive roll. Toasted barley and chicken skin served on top of the butters, I really liked these, preferred the olive bread, but both good.
We snacked on these cumin lavoche with crab, corn and curried egg (£5). I think this truly contained what might just be my favourite ingredients, we made very light work of them.
Here are all 3 of the starters. I'll start at the bottom. Langoustine, carrot, coriander and pistachio (£15). A tad over priced perhaps, there were a couple of croquettes on the plate but I genuinely don't recall what the filling was. Don't believe there was much flavour in this at all, aside from the fish itself, which was perfectly cooked and the star of the dish.
Best started for me was the veal sweetbread with asparagus, peas and buttermilk (£15). Actually, scrap what I said about the lavoche, peas are one of my faves. Anyway, this starter was delicious, you could taste each component and even the foam didn't bother me.
3rd starter we tried was the mackerel, passionfruit, cucumber and radish (£12). The balls of cucumber were quite novel, looked like melon, some were burnt, and passionfruit and mackerel worked together better than they should on the plate though it's not something I'm itching to try again.
Onto mains, the lamb was my standout dish. Served with smoked aubergine, yoghurt, wild garlic and onion (£24). 2 kinds of lamb and beautifully presented onions, garlic flowers topping the whole thing off, I was sad when we rotated and I had to pass this one on.
The belly pork with peach, mustard and lettuce (£22) was good, the meat the man attraction, as it should be, but we all agreed we couldn't taste much else. Good job the suckling pig itself was so well cooked, crispy topped and soft melting fat below. Who needs peach?
I was underwhelmed by the pigeon with salt baked celeriac, lovage and hazelnut (£26), having been urged to try the dish by a previous guest. I'm not the biggest fan of pigeon, again the presentation was faultless and everything sounded great but it left us wanting slightly. Lack of sauce perhaps?
We tried some lovely wines, excellently matched by the sommelier, white, red and dessert. A pre dessert of parsley sorbet with lime and ginger granita was brillaint. Really sharp and hot with ginger, loved it.
This was the unanimous winner on the dessert front, chocolate, amaretto and almond (£7.50). Amazing textures, variety of temperatures and rich chocolate in several forms. It was excellent.
Strawberry, pistachio and white chocolate (£8) was also incredibly pretty. Coolness again from the sorbet, spongey pistachio and a white chocolate log shaped thing covered in more strawberry, in gel form. Very good.
I was less convinced by the almost savoury green tea with sesame (£7), pretty enough, but I've rarely seen a green pud, and there's a reason for that, thinking back to the last time, it was at L'Enclume and it was good, one of the best I've ever had but it was appley and sweet (and they hid the green stuff under white stuff). This wasn't my cup of tea at all.
Last to show up were these petit fours, zesty little jellies, nice way to end the meal. We had a really fun evening, we always do but the food wasn't quite at the level we had hoped it would be. Perhaps due to the newness of everything, it was week 2 or 3 when we visited, so admittedly, I was there too early to judge proper. Would really like to try The Corner Room in it's new incarnation too.
Town Hall Hotel