Tonight we are meeting our good friends José and Matilde for dinner at the Star Inn at Sparsholt. There has been a pub on this site for over 300 years and now the Star has really put Sparsholt on the map by being ranked 26th in the Good Food Guide’s top 50 pubs of 2015.
José and I both choose the crispy crab and black pepper cakes with lime and ginger dressing to start. Rock picks a simple Heritage tomato and mozzarella dish, while Matilde goes for the confit rabbit leg terrine with orange, plum and pecan nut bread. The crab dish is beautiful and given a real zing by lime jelly cubes. Matilde’s terrine is smooth and flavoursome – Rock tastes it and wishes she had been more adventurous with her choice of starter.
According to José, we are being served by a young woman that looks like a character from a film he once watched – particularly when she removes her spectacles. José’s attention moves quickly back to the food with the arrival of his Kelmscott farm pork fillet and belly with sweetcorn, spring onion and air dried tomato.
Pan seared fillet of grey mullet with baby squid, squid ink linguine and fennel arrives for Matilde. Braised Jacob’s ladder of beef with girolle mushroom, watercress and turnip for me and truffle, mascarpone and mozzarella arancini balls with chive and baby leek for Rock. All the dishes are beautifully presented and taste as good as they look.
We all share recent experiences – some good, some not so good – about buying laptops, downloading apps and streaming music. Dessert is also a sharing event. José and Matilde share the Valrhona caramélia chocolate cheesecake with Williams pear sorbet. Rock and I share the apricot parfait with apricot nectar and pine nut ice cream. We all have coffee and share some fabulous home-made chocolate petit fours.
The atmosphere and the service has been very good but, most importantly for us, the food and the company has been great!