The following is a guest post reviewed by one of my dining companions-
Tasting Menu at The Sportsman, Seasalter.
On arrival, we were greeted by the sight of a very unassuming slightly weather worn, white painted pub, hmm, methinks this could be interesting.
The relaxed friendliness and warmth of our greeting was the first sign of the good things to come, as were the amuse-bouches, which titillated our taste buds with tomato cheesiness and apply sweetness married to home pickled herring, yum.
The artisanal breads and home made butter with local Seasalter salt were just a revelation, and for one who normally eschews the delights of eating too much bread due to it’s usual appalling quality and awful taste, the Foccacia and Soda bread with the homemade pork scratchings and aforementioned butter were simply divine!
Though being of the sensible persuasion, I decided to partake of these delights only sparingly, we were here for the tasting menu after all and I could see that we had at least another seven courses to go, it just wouldn’t do to gorge oneself lest one becomes a gros gourmand and eschews the delights in favour of gluttony.
Ha! Oysters with a pink grapefruit granita were simply beautiful and simply overshadowed the oysters that followed even though they were delicately enrobed with a beautifully executed sauce.
The chilled courgette soup was quite delectable, but alas I would have preferred less of the milk foam atop the soup, very light, palate cleansing and delicious nonetheless, I was by now beginning to really look forward to the rest of the taster menu with some excitement and anticipation…
By now our little party had came to a clear understanding of why the Sportsman had insisted that we arrive at 12 midday, rather than our preferred 1pm for the tasting menu, we were in for a relaxing yet intriguing and at times sublime journey through the culinary skills of the chef patron.
The Crab, Carrot and Hollandaise was simply sublime in it’s simplicity, yet absolutely scrummy and totally moreish, the understated title did it’s best to disguise a truly delectable dish of sweet local crab with beautifully flavourful carrot julienne all topped of with a perfect hollandaise, this truly was a dish that was simplicity itself in it’s elegance and honesty, the sign of a chef who really knows his ingredients and is well able to maximise their delights.
On again, my dear friends to the house signature dish of slip sole in seaweed butter, the sole was just superb, sweet and succulent leaving one wanting more, the sign of a truly well conceived signature dish, this dish alone is worth the trip to The Sportsman!
What more can I say, I just loved the superbly executed, brilliantly conceived simplicity of this dish and I was in hog heaven and judging from the appreciative sounds emanating from my dining companions they also thought the dish worthy of the being the signature dish.
Then along came the Turbot braised in vin jaune with smoked pork, this was beautifully flavoursome, the turbot sang through, my only negative and I really am nit picking here was that...
I would have liked much thinner/finer green beans and those served, were for me a tad underdone as they still had that slightly steely rawness to them, otherwise a wonderful dish.
(Freebie of lamb schnitzel slices.)
Now to the meat, roast Monkshill Farm lamb, this was very, very nice, not quite exceptional but getting there.
The lamb was, for me ever so slightly underdone as I personally prefer my lamb cooked until slightly pink rather than very pink and one of my fellow diners and I both felt that this was perhaps approaching Hogget rather than lamb. Though it was very flavourful and quite satisfying, just not as sublime and delectable as the fish courses!
Our wonderful waitress, told us that we would have two dessert courses and when I saw the first of Blackberry ice-lolly with creamy/milky cake crumbs, my initial thought was Yuk! A kiddie dessert! But how wrong can you be! The Blackberry ice-lolly was just simply divine, far too grown up for kiddies! And dunking it into the creamy, milky cake crumb mixture was just so much fun and tasted glorious! These were the rose tinted idyllic memories of a long lost childhood brought back through simple brilliant cooking, congratulations to The Sportsman, this one really hit the spot both epicurially and emotionally!
Then came the adult desserts!
A strawberry sandwich no less, two slices of artisanal brioche caramelised on one side till crispy and slightly caramel bitter filled with a vanilla crème Chantilly and nice ripe strawberries, one of my dining companions did struggle to finish this, but I very bravely persevered and scoffed the lot! Yum Yum!
At this point I thought we had done exceedingly well by managing to consume with gusto and delight all the courses offered on the Tasting Menu, but then a further little ‘trio of desserts’ was proffered, and we really just couldn’t refuse, could we?
The chocolate mousse with salted caramel was unctuous and gloriously rich, it was however for me the one dish too far! Despite my best intentions, I had transmogrified from a happy Taster and Diner into a Gros Gourmand!
Ah well, the best of intentions and all that…..
My sincerest thanks go to my two dining companions for their generosity and conviviality. We all had a good time and the 4 hours spent enjoying the Tasting Menu simply flew by!
The Sportsman is truly worth a visit, you won’t be disappointed with the sublime flavours and the unfussy, and simple yet masterful execution of the cooking totally belies the surroundings.
Been there, done that and I can finally die happy!
So what is or to be precise, was Burnt Enz?
Well, digest the following and you’ll get the idea:
i) Superb ingredients
ii) No frills, home-style outdoor cooking
iii) London’s homage to the legendary Asador Etxebarri (but at a fraction of a cost).
iv) Barbie-meister extraordinaire, David Pynt.
v) Perking up our gone-to-the-pan summer.
vi) The most temporary of all pop-up restaurants.
Skinny geezer and hefty stone ovens.
Beyond spoilt-for-choice menu.
Prep till you drop.
White coals and nowt but the whitest!
I thought about Babe and therefore;
“There was a time not so long ago when pigs were afforded no respect, except by other pigs; they lived their whole lives in a cruel and sunless world. In those days pigs believed that the sooner they grew large and fat, the sooner they'd be taken into Pig Paradise, a place so wonderful that no pig had ever thought to come back.”
I’m pretty sure this piglet was an utterly happy and boisterous free-ranger, and he did go to heaven after all.
Leeks and elephant garlic aioli
Not exactly the same as partaking in a calçotada but the cooking procedure was essentially the same.
Hot and spicy chicken wings.
Sublimely juicy and tender, beautifully spiced but not chilli-hot enough for me.
Fore rib of beef.
Served only medium-rare or go home and cry for mummy instead!
Charred gems and onions.
Black cod, samphire and fennel.
Nobu charges 42 quid for his version with miso.
Burnt Enz’s own was only £8 and it had three times more fish portions than the former…I digress.
Couldn't finish the 1kg beef, cancelled the famed sanger of brisket, onions and watercress, and made my own sandwich instead of leftover beef, sourdough bread, gem lettuce and mustard there and then to take away.
Let us keep our fingers crossed and hope that Burnt Enz reappear again next summer. Highly recommended. Where’s the receipt? BE doesn't do receipts as cash is the undisputed king so there you have it! http://www.facebook.com/BurntEnz
Brasserie Zédel reminds me of a huge and upscale dining room which belongs to an ocean liner (I’ve never been on one but I’ve seen The Poseidon Adventure countless times). Thankfully the class tradition of the latter has been done away with at BZ. Here, the relaxed and egalitarian dining experience prevails as expected of any worthy brasserie.
Authenticity relating to Parisian brasseries is admirably maintained by the predominantly French speaking waiting staff wearing “le rondin (a black waistcoat with many pockets) and the long white apron”, white linen on tables, assured service and of course, “le menu”. The menu is of the love-at-first-sight category, tantalisingly embrace-able and excellent value for money (some of the dishes are cheap as chips).
Oh, if the likes of tomatoes & shallot salad or cold poached fillet of salmon sound more sophisticated and romantic than salade de tomate à l’échalote or Saumon ‘Belle-Vue’ et sa macédoine respectively then your prerogative is granted. A menu in English exists for that reason.
I've been here a few times now, so the low-down about the grub follows-
Uncouth I may be but I thought the baguettes were more memorable than a Poilâne Loaf!
Cuisses de grenouille.
Two pairs of legs, they were tender, sweet and propelled immeasurably by the garlicky and intense parsley sauce. There was none of the usual watery-chicken texture I normally associate with frog legs detected here.
Soupe de poisson et sa rouille
Brilliant fish soup. Who needs the Provence when one can delight in a faithful rendition of a definitive Mediterranean dish at 15m below sea level in grubby London Town instead!
Soupe du jour.
Of leeks and potatoes, can’t go wrong with that, be it canned or freshly made.
Escargots au beurre persillé
There was no middle ground present in this dish, the parsley separated on its own like an antisocial bugger, the snails tasted like previously-chewed-flavourless-and-thus-discarded-fruit gums and there was the despondency surrounding the neat Pernod. The latter was somewhat just chucked in huge quantities and not flambéed; the whole dish ended up unnecessarily intoxicating as well as a big fail.
Talking of snails, my daughter was freaked out by the presence of the winkles and whelks on the plateau de fruits de mer. But she did enjoy the briny oysters, plump prawns, “I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside” cockles, sweet Palourde clams, the muscley mussels and the all-important mignonette sauce. I thought the platter was an absolute bargain!
Confit de canard, pommes sautées à l’ail
It was really good as it gets. In other words the duck was crispy, robustly flavoured and the meat falling off the bone with ease.
A marvellously well proportioned dish that was additionally generous and effectively bargainous. The choucroute was quite possibly my second most favourite dish at BZ after the malodorous but majestic Andouillette de Troyes.
The choucroute garnie consisted of the following-
Belly of pork served two ways; cured (deliciously fatty and buttery) and smoked (crack-like slices of Montbéliard sausages).
An alarmingly incandescent-looking frankfurter that was otherwise quite out of this world.
Boiled spuds- they were proper and all.
Sauerkraut- far too much in quantity for yours truly to finish. It was less acidic than the German variety and so by default, certainly less of an acquired taste. A win-win situation I’d say.
Steak haché, sauce au poivre et frites.
Technically a well-cooked and well-seasoned burger served without a bun. It came with a bowl of average fries (would’ve been hugely better if Corbin and King replaced them with Le Caprice'scelebrated pommes allumettes instead) and the most amazing pepper sauce I’ve tasted for a long time.
Incidentally this chopped steak dish is also BZ’s cheapest mains on the menu at £7.50.
Thursday’s plat du jour of boudin noir aux pommes.
It was just ok, an extra sausage wouldn’t go amiss and besides one and a half apples on the plate were way too sweet for comfort.
I might be biased but no boudin noir will ever compare to the coarser, full-bodied and more delectable black puddings of Bury and Stornoway any day.
Friday’s plat du jour of marmite de poissons.
It was lamentably bland and positively dull. It was a dish created for those poor souls who suffer from a fear of flying and given the chance to taste the plainest of plane food without the need of experiencing airport security or let alone put their seatbelts on.
Poor, poor, poor beyond belief!
Carrelet meunière, pommes vapeur
No plaice like chez BZ…the French are good at cooking fish. Perfect.
Pâtisseries et Desserts:
Baba au Rhum.
It wasn’t as moist or as drowned as the ones found lurking next to the skewers of raw meat in a kebab joint but at least it had real rum.
For that reason alone, it was entirely passable.
Profiteroles au chocolat chaud
A nigh on magnet of a dish to attract the lurch of tourists meandering in and around Piccadilly Circus!
BTW, the cream puffs were stonkingly good!
Millefeuille à la vanille
The two layers of crème pâtissière were too thick and heavy going, and the icing on top was preposterously replaced!
BZ is also the home of the best praline éclairs this side of Paris.
Brasserie Zédel is good. And that means it’s good enough to give Tragus Limited sleepness nights if Messrs Corbin and King have aspirations about expanding BZ to places like Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, and Edinburgh. Recommended.