The seventh year of Taste sees our fifth visit. A couple of years ago I became quite disillusioned by Taste as it seemed d to have become a bit stale and lacking some of the usual flair you expect. Last year improved with the introduction of the Icon dish which was great to see continued this year. Although they seem to be getting even more pricey, it is a true show of what these chefs can do.
So 5th visit, I thought I must try something new but couldn’t help mix in some old favourites. First call of the day had to be Bentley’s as I was lucky enough to cook with Richard Corrigan the week before. I asked for Brendon, who Richard said to, and he was more than happy to show me out the back and see what goes on behind the scenes. Seeing some of the real heroes of the day. It was even smaller out the back than I thought and then the sight of crate upon crate of Oysters for just one day was amazing. When we emerged back to the front, there was a plate of the ever fresh Maldon oysters for me and a couple of corks to get a free glass of English sparkling wine at the Nyetimber stand.
The next stop had to be Launceston Place and Tristan Welsch was there carving up the suckling pig and posed nicely for some pictures. I actually went for the Goose Egg & Chips which was my first goose egg. It was pretty phenomenal, an amazing flavour from the eggs. Who needs ketchup when you have goose egg. The Old Spot suckling pig, so well cooked too, with lot’s of black truffle on top was another taste sensation which my wife wolfed down without me getting even a taster so I only have her word that it was good.
I stopped by Gaucho for a quick piece of steak as we made our way to Nyetimber to sample the wine. Sorry Gaucho, it was very sinewy and I expected better have eaten at one of your restaurants. On the plus side, it was flavoured really well and the humitas chimchurri was stunning. So to Nyetimber for the free wine, a crisp sparkling English wine which was most enjoyable as we continued our walk round in the sun where i spied Fullers. My wife was happy, she finished my wine while I had a beer. Fuller’s I do salute you guys, always a great beer wherever I try it.
In an attempt to stay true to my word and try food from restaurants I have never experienced before, Mennula, Trinity and sake No Hana were on the agenda. First from Mennula, where we had a great chat about the food and their sales pitch to us which really turned out to be the food. We both chose a dish there with my wife trying the maccheroni and me going for the Carpaccio of line caught yellow fin tuna. Both dishes were great and the tuna was just so well marinated with great sweet and sour onions. And so on to Sake No Hana where I was already yearning for the pan fried quail. I do love quail and this was no disappointment, tender, succulent and a bit of a kick. Another place now added to the list of where to go. Shortly followed by Trinity which is where we both tried a dish and for me this was their Icon dish of Pig’s Trotters with what has to be the most amazing crackling ever. I mean, it was just amazing, crispy, well seasoned, a bit of meat still underneath. Even now my mouth waters like Homer Simpson just thinking about it. For me, it was the dish of the day.
This only leaves one dish, Rhodes 24 Icon dish, Jaffa Cake Pudding. This was for my wife more than me but we both had a try. I’m not really a pudding person but this was just like, well a Jaffa cake but multiplied by several thousand. An intense orange with dark chocolate, light sponge. We had a chat with Gary Rhodes while we were there who then signed a clean dish for Michala and he had a few words about Top Table. In fact we could hardly stop him when he got started. Gary said the service provided is great and always friendly but on most importantly it’s the access given to the public to find and discover these amazing restaurants. We couldn’t agree more.
We stopped by Le Gavroche too to speak with Michel Roux Jr (legend and such a gent), where I had a cheeky little chicken terrine with pickled mushrooms. I’ve tried making these mushrooms in the past and believe me, Michel Roux Jr is good for a reason. If you get the book, go make them, great with a meal, barbecue, ploughman’s. We then thought it was time for more wine so a trip to McGuigan’s was in order for a few tasters to turn into a glass as the only rain of the session fell. Well when it’s raining and you can’t move, wine is a good companion.
Overall best menu for us was Launceston Place so we counted our crowns, realising we didn’t quite have enoughfor the strawberries and champagne from there but hey, they let us have two anyway. This is the thing with Taste, it pays to ask, be cheeky, just talk and take an interest, you never know what you may get. And so with another wander round and perusal of the many suppliers we headed home laden with full bags and full stomachs. And as I write this I raise my glass to Taste and TopTable and hear my stomach rumble in readiness for the next one.
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