Review: Suffolk's newest tasting menu, created by Masterchef star
- Credit: Liz Heath
Our food reviewer Mark Heath and his wife Liz tried Suffolk's newest tasting menu, created by Masterchef Professionals quarter-finalist Adam Spicer, at The View restaurant in Fornham St Genevieve. Here's what they made of it....
Tasting menus are up there with my greatest pleasures in life, right alongside fine single malt whisky, a good cigar and the rolling scenery of the Peak District.
We've been fortunate to sample a few over the years too, from Claridge's in London to Brdr Price in Copenhagen's jaw-dropping Tivoli Gardens.
Thus, when I heard of the latest such offering to hit Suffolk - via the excellent Instagram account of fellow foodie the Suffolk Spy - I booked us in quicker than you can say 'table for two at 6pm, please.'
Right, let's get the formalities out of the way before we move to the food. The 10-course menu has been created by Adam Spicer, a Masterchef Professionals quarter-finalist who recently took over as the new head chef at The View restaurant, which is housed inside the All Saints Hotel Golf and Spa in Fornham St Genevieve.
Spicer, who has ambitions of three AA Rosettes and taking The View into the Michelin guide, has wasted little time revamping the offering and recruiting a new team, including excellent front of house Tom Sparkes, from the superb Brewers in Rattlesden.
Two things are immediately clear when you walk into The View. One, this is an eatery going places. And two, they weren't joking about The View - the restaurant looks out over the resort's perfectly manicured golf course through huge, stylish windows.
We were seated by Tom, ordered up a couple of glasses of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - large for Mrs Heath, obviously - and awaited the feast ahead.
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First up was some excellent bread and oil, partnered by salted butter - at room temperature and thus easily spreadable, passing the first Heath Good Restaurant Test.
Now, before we dive into the food, friends, a quick point about the menu. Though it is ten courses, the first five of those are served pretty much together, as little plates, before the main event really kicks off.
So, we were first presented with a trio of cold 'courses' - pork skin with bacon jam, steak tartare tart with a cured egg yolk and a smoked cod's roe and parmesan choux.
These were followed in short order, by a pair of warm courses - an octopus and pork belly skewer and a fried Maldon oyster with mango pickle.
All were beautifully presented and - as I find myself smiling while writing this - terribly good fun.
Best for me was that meaty, rich octopus and pork belly skewer - think Chinese 5-spice sticky ribs vibe - and the wonderfully smoky cod and parmesan choux.
All were good though, with Liz particularly taken by the fried oyster and mango pickle, which evoked Indian-style flavours, and the pork skin and bacon jam - like a cracking piece of pork crackling, topped with melted bacon, if that makes sense.
A really nice, social start to the meal as you're sharing plates and food. Some unusual combos too, but with familiar flavours coming through at the same time. Great idea.
Once they were out of the way, part two began.
A dish of heritage tomatoes and burrata was our 'starter' for this second leg of the journey, and very good it was too.
A bewildering range and styles of tomato, freshness and zing coupled with the creamy, cheesy burrata. A touch too much burrata for me, but many will lap it up.
Next, the fish course. Wild bass, another fried oyster and warm tartar sauce.
The fish was beautifully cooked, flaking apart on the fork, with the oyster bringing crunch and texture. For me, the sauce needed more of a punch, but a tasty dish nonetheless.
Onto the main event of the second five - Dingley Dell pork belly, black pudding and carrot.
It's at this point I should make you aware that Adam himself hand delivers your dishes, explaining each one and giving you the opportunity to chat before you eat.
Thus, I know that this particular pork belly comes from a specially created pig - a Suffolk Red.
Indeed, the black pudding comes from old Red too, and he's a tasty porcine.
So many pork belly dishes are packed with badly rendered, inedible fat, but this was meaty and generous, with a lovely crunch to the skin.
The black pudding, too, was delicious - a rich sausage-style flavour running through it - and there was even a pork crumb atop our beautifully sweet carrot and carrot puree.
Adam's explanation of how they create the crumb was an eye-opener but, trust me, the lengths they go to just for what is essentially a dusting of flavour are remarkable - and a demonstration of the attention to detail he's bringing to the new-look kitchen.
Post-pork, we were onto desserts, both of which were stunners.
The simply-titled chocolate and cherry doesn't do justice to this mighty little course. When presented, it appears to be individual portions of chocolate and cherry ice-cream, with a fudge crumb and a single cherry for garnish.
Turns out the cherry ice-cream is more of a sorbet and the cherry itself is.... well I'll leave you to find out. I don't want to spoil it, other than to say it is an absolutely cracking dish.
Finally, we were on to one of Spicer's signature dishes to finish - a salted caramel and smoked white chocolate tart.
This, too was delicious. A smooth, gently flavoured tart topped by something akin to a white chocolate aero, packing a smoky punch. Fantastic, and a great end to the meal.
Or so we thought, anyway - there was still an unexpected box of treats to come! Again, I won't spoil the surprise, but it was a really nice touch to end the experience.
All in all, it was what all good tasting menus should be - fun, thought-provoking, educational and a real journey through flavours and textures.
At £59 per person it's good value too - for most decent tasting menus you're looking at north of £100 these days.
It's certainly not fully-polished just yet - indeed Adam told us that they are about to launch a new Autumn version with a paired wine flight put together by Sparkes.
Be still my beating heart. If there's one thing better than a tasting menu, it's a tasting menu with a wine flight.
Which, of course, means we shall have to return.
It's a hard job, friends, but someone's got to do it.....
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