Good food nae chatter
I had avoided this basement since the Larder moved because the name just rankles. Forage, I get, and like. Chatter? No-one with brain enough to care what they eat wants to be associated with mere chatter, putting us chimp-like in our place. Male and female alike recoil at this (I asked), particularly when applied to a restaurant, rather than a café.
Which is a real shame because, if you can get past this, there is much to impress in the kitchen. Seems ‘chatter’ was meant to evoke ‘relaxed’, rather than raise hackles. Another gaffe in offering the well-selected wine list only to ‘sir’, not recognising ‘madam’ might be the consumer with wine qualifications, was offset by thoroughly engaging charm.
So breathe … cutlery poised … and we’re off, with the house ‘mini-doughnut’ canapé. Nice vehicle for interesting parsley & dill pesto and intense powdered ‘shroom-topped whipped yoghourt butter, neatly referencing the wild mushroom logo. Appetite piqued and soul now soothed, our starters (c£8) were generous and eye-openingly good. My liver parfait was truly voluptuous, balanced with honey & lemon dressed endive & parsnip puree. His BBQ pork shoulder with crispy squid, cauliflower & radish elicited rave reviews and looked the part. Melting, smoky-sweet meat, with enjoyably fine snippets of crispy squid rather than the usual tyres.
His venison loin next was topped with hazelnut crumb on a sweet prune sauce with celeriac. I had gone for (tangy) curried (rich) butter monkfish with baby squash & toasted seeds. Both dishes (c£17.50) sweet but delicious on a cold, rainy night, being perfectly seasonal. A steak knife had been supplied but the loin was cooked rare and cut like butter. Our greens were saltwater-steamed sprouting broccoli which had then been braised with garlic & ginger. I’m being precise about the cooking method because it produced amazingly tender stems, perhaps in conjunction with perfectly-timed picking of the product.
Now in a good pud (£6) mood, I enjoyed refreshing lemon curd dressed with Douglas fir syrup, but envy led my spoon over to intercept some of sir’s ‘Vahlrona chocolate & peanut’.
This is what good restaurants do – take damp, suspicious punters, wave a magic wand and send them forth gleeful, having turned average expectation into outright admiration.
Go Forage! (and less of your Chatter).
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