Yes, I know, another post about Alimentum
but this one is a little different. Last Sunday was the first of head chef Mark Poynton's "supper clubs
", an informal evening during which he trialed new dishes. Instead of the usual individual tables, there were three long ones which encouraged talking to the other diners about what everybody thought about the dishes.
Thanks to the efforts of Stagecoach, the bus operator in Cambridge, I was almost too late but got there just in time to grab a glass of welcome fizz before taking my seat. Proceedings started with a few nibbles, onion rice cakes, cheese puffs (neither of which I don't have a photo) and red mullet parfait on toast.
The parfait was soft with the fish coming through nicely.
Next up was braised rabbit with avruga. This might sound unusual but the saltiness worked well with the soft, sweet meat.
The next item was a treat. Freshly baked bread (milk loaf) and whipped cep butter. You only needed to spread a thin layer of the butter to turn a slice of bread into a mushroom. Superb and one of my favourite dishes of the night.
The wild theme continued with wood pigeon, a perfectly cooked piece of breast and liver on toast.
Then, the fish course and my favourite: Smoked eel, apple, cucumber, goat's cheese, horseradish granita. I love smoked eel which is usually a treat around Christmas in my family but there was some apprehension among my fellow diners. However, this changed when the dish arrived and everyone I heard loved it. The apple/cucumber salad helped counteract the inherent greasiness of the fish, making it lighter. Horseradish is a classic accompaniment to smoked fish, anyway.
The main event was braised beef cheeks with variations of onion, onion mash and onion juice. Soft, flavourful meat, excellent onion bits but not enough juice.
The pre-dessert was tarragon granita with yoghurt, a lovely palate cleanser and siimilar to a dish I had at Tuddenham Mill earlier this year.
The final act was white chocolate mousse, mango, black olive caramel. I was apprehensive about the black olive having had a sweet dish with olive at Midsummer House but this worked as it had a similar effect to salt to bring down the cloying sweetness of the caramel. The white chocolate and mango harmonised very well, too. Loved it.
The dishes were paired with excellent wines, two of them English (a white and a sparkling rosé) and a superb sherry with the pre-dessert.
A very enjoyable evening indeed and I've already signed up for the next one