Lunch@Carters, 2017

We are with our good friend Douglas and returning to another of our favourite places – Carters in Moseley.  This is a place where you are almost guaranteed to find eating experiences that you have never had before!

There is another new beer for me to try, the Heathen Pale Ale from the Northern Monk Brewery, it is a bold and fruity IPA with tropical notes that will probably work well with the wide variety of flavours that are about to hit my palate.  It is a set lunch menu here with alternatives only provided for those with particular dietary requirements.  We begin with a variety of snacks: chicken liver cereal; Porthilly oyster cooked in beef fat; house charcuterie; and a kohlrabi, pine and salad burnet.

The chicken liver cereal is fantastic – the light chicken liver paté works beautifully with a variety of toasted cereal.  The oyster is interesting.  There is far too much fat on the house charcuterie for any of us to really enjoy it.  And the kohlrabi peaks with salad burnet are an interesting palate cleanser.  Rock, who will not put an oyster in her mouth, is given an Evesham salad as an alternative and a pair of agricultural scissors to eat it with.  The salad appears to be a pot of cress.  She trims off a few stems, it is actually a pot of micro herbs… but it is a little bizarre!

The next course is pine mushroom porridge with Moliterno al Tartufo.  Moliterno is a hard Italian, truffle laden sheep’s cheese served with a small wooden spoon (which we all found to be distracting).  The dish is essentially a highly flavoured mushroom risotto.  It is very good.

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Pine mushroom porridge with Moliterno al Tartufo

The fish course is Cornish monkfish with artichoke, kale and smoked bacon fat.  My  monkfish is firm but Rock and Douglas both think their fish has been overcooked.  The artichoke puree is very smooth, the kale gives texture and the bacon fat gives flavour.

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Cornish monkfish with artichoke, kale and smoked bacon fat

Next we have highland grouse with beetroot and elderberries.  The dish is vibrant in colour and flavour.  The beetroot and elderberries make the soft breast purple and the breast is complemented by the crisp texture of the confit leg.

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Highland grouse with beetroot and elderberries

Dessert is a fig leaf ice cream (the second fig leaf ice cream we’ve had in two weeks – see The Woodspeen) with cobnuts from the Augernik Fruit Farm.  The sliced cobnuts sit on a crisp caramel that covers the ice cream.

Coffee is served with a strong, dark and delicious chocolate ganache, spiced salt and water mint.

Overall, we’ve enjoyed our third visit. The setting is serene and the service is excellent.  However, we much preferred Carters when the menu gave diners some element of choice – as on our first visit.  On our second visit, we enjoyed the food but found the coffee making process a little pretentious.  This time round, the food seems to be heading in the same direction as the coffee!

 

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Lunch@The Forest Hotel, Dorridge

I haven’t been to The Forest Hotel in Dorridge since I was a teenager so I’m intrigued to see what it will be like today as we visit their restaurant for lunch with Douglas.

The menu is pleasingly divided into nibbles, small plates and large plates. This works well for people like us with appetites that range from that of a horse (me) to that of a mouse (Rock).

Rock starts with the beetroot falafel served with rosemary & lemon crème friâche. Douglas has the fabulous tuna carpaccio with pickles and crispy noodles. I have the twice baked red leicester soufflé which works very well with the red grapes and rather unusual smoked date puree.

I move on to the tandoori cod loin with lentil dhal, roasted cauliflower and a coconut curry sauce – it is well spiced and very tasty. Rock has the sea trout, yet again, but this time with roasted fennel, orange & parsley quinoa and a fennel salad. Douglas has the salmon & prawn cake with a perfectly poached egg and hollandaise.

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Sea trout, roasted fennel, orange & parsley quinoa & fennel salad

For dessert I have the lemon & green tea roulade with almonds, lemon curd and green tea ice cream – beautifully presented and it tastes as good as it looks. Douglas enjoys going a touch exotic with the coconut infused rice pudding with pineapple. Rock has no room for dessert.

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Lemon & green tea roulade, almonds, lemon curd & green tea ice cream

The Forest Hotel has certainly changed since I was a teenager – it is smarter, far more civilised and the food and drink are on another level. We have had a fabulous time with Douglas and I’m sure he, and we, will be back before too long.

2016 Food Awards – Part 1

WadeandRockandFood Awards 2016

The WadeandRockandFood Awards 2016 follow another year of dining out in hundreds of restaurants, pubs and cafes. The awards aim to celebrate the very best eating experiences we have had over the last 12 months. Awards 2016 part 1 will focus on restaurants, part 2 on pubs and part 3 on small independent food providers.

We have had an extraordinary year in terms of visiting restaurants of the highest quality. As usual, we have narrowed it down to 3 UK restaurants that we loved the most, plus a new award for the best international eating experience. The top UK restaurants are listed in alphabetical order followed by the winner of the international award.

UK

Aizle, Edinburgh

This place creates a 5 course menu from monthly ‘harvest’ ingredients that are all at the height of quality and seasonality. They create dishes and cocktails that are sensational. Aizle Review

Carters, Moseley

3,5,or 7 course set lunch menus cleverly balance big flavours and a variety of textures. It was a joy to find such a diamond of a restaurant in a relatively unassuming suburb of Birmingham! Cart Review

The Woodspeen, Woodspeen

This beautiful airy restaurant was featured in the 2015 awards and we couldn’t resist going back. They spoil diners with exceptional service and consistently fabulous food. Wood Review – Jan 16. Wood Review – Aug 16.

International

Kodbyens Fiskebar, Copenhagen

Skilful kitchen teamwork helps to create fish dishes and desserts that are fantastic to look at and even better to eat! Despite the restaurant being very lively, the service is still superb. Kod Review

Parts 2 and 3 will follow over the next few days.

Lunch@Carters, 2016

Today we are going on a food adventure. Rock and I have been to Carters before and we know we’ll have food experiences that are both interesting and unusual. We are having lunch with our dear friend Douglas who, until now, has not had the opportunity to visit Carters.  Hopefully, he will enjoy himself as much as we did last time we were here.

At lunchtime you can choose from a menu of 3, 5 or 8 courses. Most courses are modest in size but, whichever number you choose, you also get three additional ‘snacks’. Three courses plus three snacks will be enough for us. While we study the menu we order a glass of Auratus Alvarinho for Rock, a beautiful Portuguese Vinho Verde and a fabulous IPA from the Long Arm Brewing Company for me. Douglas is keeping his head clear for the food experience to come.

The first snack arrives – chicken liver cereal. A breakfast bowl of cereals, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and herbs that cover a delicate chicken liver paste. It is extraordinary how they have managed to produce such a mixture of fantastic flavours and textures that all work together in a small dish. Douglas is already impressed.

The other two snacks are not quite as inspiring. The Ogleshield Gougeres are small choux pastry affairs, similar to a profiterole, but filled with Ogleshield cheese. The Brixham scallop with coral roe dashi and kelp is tiny but full of flavour.

For our first course, Rock and I both choose the flamed mackerel with greengage and back fat. When it is presented the dish does not look that inviting – but it does taste a great deal better than it looks. Douglas has clearly made the wisest choice! He is having the Mayan gold mash with marrow bone gravy. Rock and I both have to try it and we all agree that it is a joy.

Next Rock is having the North Coast hake with black garlic, trompettes and shiso. It looks extraordinary…a mound of black & purple sitting in a black pool. Again, the flavours are just superb. Douglas and I are both having the red-legged partridge with polenta and wiltshire truffle. I’m not the biggest fan of truffle, it can be overpowering, and there are a considerable number of truffle shavings on my plate. But, I should not have been concerned – the kitchen has balanced the truffle perfectly with the partridge. Excellent.

For dessert Rock and Douglas both have the black fig tart with Moseley Honey and fig leaf ice cream. I’m having the salted caramel mousse with Russet apples. Both desserts are beautiful. We know this food adventure is drawing to a close but we are enjoying ourselves so much we order coffee.

It is explained to us that they do not do traditional coffee here but a pourover, drip filter method of brewing. We cannot resist. Several items of equipment are brought to our table as the method is explained to us at some length. There is a point when we all believe that the resulting coffee cannot possibly live up to the hype….but is is very fine coffee indeed.

Overall, our latest visit to Carters has been fabulous. Even better, we have shared the experience with Douglas. This is a place that every food lover should visit!

2015 Awards – Part III

Over the past year we have visited almost 200 places looking for the very best eating experiences. The WadeandRockandFoodAwards (part I) were made to our top three pubs and (part II) to our top three restaurants. Our third set of awards go to four small independent outlets that gave us something special during 2015.

Soulshine, Bridport – best breakfast. A cool and funky cafe with great coffee, fabulous bread and perfect poached eggs. They can delight veggies and carnivores with equal skill. Soul Review

Eat Wild, Cirencester – best burger & beer. Their Clown Killer burger is extraordinary and they serve Deya Brewery’s Steady Rolling Man which is a perfect match in quality. Wild Review1 Wild Review2

The Grumpy Badger, Bradford-on-Avon – best coffee & cake. Moist, freshly baked cakes with great inventive flavours – so good we were forced to blog about it! Badger Review

Leverton & Halls, Bournville – best local & organic. Bustling cafe & deli that serves both traditional and more exotic dishes using fresh beautiful produce. L&H Review

During 2016 we aim to return to some of the small independents we have loved and to visit numerous other places looking for fabulous food.

Lunch@Carters, Moseley

We keep reading and hearing about a restaurant called Carters. Brad Carter and Holly Jackson opened the place around 5 years ago and, after becoming the Good Food Guide Readers’ Restaurant of the Year in 2015, it recently earned its first Michelin star. Today we will see if it gets the WadeandRock seal of approval.

Holly is there to greet us as we arrive and we are pleased to see that, even though the restaurant is relatively small, diners have room to eat in comfort. The interesting daily menu is fixed with a choice of two starters, two main courses and two desserts.

Rock starts our culinary adventure with the flamed mackerel, fermented turnips and lovage. I choose the pheasant dumpling, kabocha squash and oregano. We both try each others and confirm that we made the right choice – Rock loves the mackerel, I am equally in love with the dumpling.

I am pleased to see that Mad Goose, a pale ale by Purity, is on the drinks menu and order a bottle. As usual with Purity beers – it is beautiful. Meanwhile, Rock and I are both served parsnip broth with dates and hazelnuts. Really interesting flavours but we both feel the dish does not need quite so much hazelnut oil.

Now Rock has an opportunity to enjoy the Cornish monkfish with artichoke, kale and smoked bacon fat. I am moving on to the roast red deer with white beetroot, sloes and bone marrow. The deer is cooked to perfection and the whole dish is just a thing of beauty.

For dessert Rock has the poached quince with brown butter ice cream and caramel. She is impressed by the wafers that stay crisp even after being soaked in hot caramel. I have the buttermilk mousse with persimmon & wild fennel. Then coffee and a surprise! No petit fours but bars of hand-made cardamon chocolate wrapped in foil.

I’m not sure we have had so many different and interesting tasting experiences in one lunchtime before. Holly has looked after us well the whole time and our verdict – this is a small part of foodie heaven!

Lunch@Edmunds, Birmingham

Today, we are surrounded by examples of modern city architecture in Brindley Place, Birmingham. We are at Edmunds with young members of Rock’s family, Douglas and Anne. Edmunds aims to provide quality french cuisine and a fine dining experience. We shall see…

After an interesting pea and mint amuse-bouche, Douglas and I both choose the caramelised Isle of Skye Scallops with red pepper purée, ratatouille, chorizo and basil. The scallops are beautifully cooked and the structure of the whole dish works well. Anne selects the enriched Perigord duck liver served with a curve of mango and raisin salsa, passionfruit dressing and toasted country bread. Rock plans to try the wild mushroom and spring vegetables millefeuille with parsley cream and truffle oil. There are no complaints.

For the main course, Douglas, Anne and Rock all go for the pan fried fillet of line caught Cornish sea bass with courgettes, octopus, parmentier potato, tapenade, tomato and basil dressing. When it arrives, in a colourful and decorative design on the plate, everyone enjoys the sea bass but the octopus receives a more mixed reception. I choose the fillet of Black Welsh beef, potato gnocchi, Jerusalem artichoke, wild mushroom, spring onions and fortified with a port jus. The slab of beef is beautifully tender and full of flavour.

On to dessert. Anne selects the strawberries and vanilla millefeuille with columns of chocolate sauce and strawberry coulis. Douglas cannot resist the hot bitter chocolate delice with griottine cherries and pistachio ice cream. Rock and I decide to share the classical trio of British and French cheeses.

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The only minor disappointment are the petit fours served with coffee – which are quite ordinary. However, overall the food has been very good and the service excellent. Not quite a temple to fine dining yet, but well on the way to achieving something of a renaissance.