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Thursday 19 November 2015

8 Course Taster Menu at Nettle & Rye

Last week we were invited to sample the restaurant menu at newly opened pub Nettle & Rye. Situated at the old Hophouse site in Clifton village and owned by the same team as the Famous Royal Navy Volunteer on Kings Street. The pub itself has the same craft beer set up as the Navy Volunteer, a big selection of independent breweries as well as a really interesting selection of spirits. The gin selection alone was impressive. I particularly liked the fact that they offered some different gins to sample than the usual. The bar staff were extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable. We were there to sample the soft launch of the restaurant menu upstairs the team had set up smaller versions of some of the dishes that will be available, in a eight course taster menu. There is a pub menu already operating downstairs for customers looking for a bite to eat with their beer sampling.

We had no idea what sort of food to expect although when ordering a drink at the bar the barman hinted that Scandinavian cuisine played a big part in inspiring the menu and everything had been sourced locally bar one or two items. We headed upstairs and a small cosy Wintery room greeted us, the decoration is meant to change with the seasons as well as the menu so that's a nice touch,  and we sat on a table near to the bar. Sure enough the menu revealed dishes involving mackerel, venison and rye, Scandi staples. The menu didn't give away many details so whilst some rather excellent Mark's Bread was brought to us and two glasses of Chablis we waited eagerly for the first course to emerge. 

Sure enough an amuse bouche of radish and tarragon mayonnaise plus an espresso sized cup of pumpkin velouté with toasted seeds and pickled pumpkin arrived in front of us. The velouté was particularly delicious and was definitely a highlight, thick and Wintery but with the surprise of the textures of the seeds and the pickled pumpkin.

Next up was carrot three ways with in house made ewes curd and puree prune and pumpkin seeds. The ewes curd was fabulous creamy but not cloying. The different textures and flavours of the carrot complimented the dish wonderfully, another standout dish. 

On to the fish dishes. First up cured mackerel with rye, buttermilk, apple and cucumber. This dish didn't quite work for me I found the fish to be far too overpowering and the buttermilk didn't really add anything. I did like the rye crisp for the texture plus the tarragon mayo from earlier made a reappearance which was somewhat surprising. Next was a main fish course of pollock, cauliflower three ways, smoked mussels, red watercress and brown butter. The star of this show should have been the pollock but it didn't really have a lot of flavour and was beaten by the cauliflower, the pureé was really delicious and the roasted cauli added a lovely earthiness to the dish. The muscles were wonderfully smokey I particularly enjoyed them.

The only meat of the evening came in the form of roe deer with beetroot, fennel and saison roasted onions. Artistically presented with vivid splashes of fuschia from the beetroot. A great dish the venison was cooked perfectly and the onions had a nice sweetness to them. I enjoyed this dish a lot, I was disappointed to hear that it would be priced at £20 when the menu launches, I feel this is overpriced considering that sides are not included. We did order a fantastic glass of tempranillo to pair with it which was velvetey smooth and slightly spicy, a perfect wine.

A palate cleanser of crab apple, Psychopomp gin granita and buttermilk followed. I did not enjoy this, I find Psychopomp to be too medicinal tasting for my gin preferences. I feel a palate cleanser should have a lighter touch to it and this was far too polarising a dish. Dessert was a hazelnut cake, peanut, white chocolate and yoghurt. The cake was fantastically light with a very slight hazelnut flavour the yoghurt ice cream was smooth but sharp and I couldn't taste any white chocolate. It was all executed well but it wasn't sweet enough for a dessert in my opinion.

To round off the meal pine and rosemary brittle appeared. A great snap but for me the rosemary totally overpowered the brittle, half the amount would have rendered this awesome. All in all there was some inventive cooking I really liked some of the dishes very much but some didn't quite hit the mark for me but I will be interested to see what the other seasonal menus have to offer.

I wasn't completely sold on all the dishes and I think the prices are rather ambitious. But the setting of the restaurant was very nice especially with a very Christmassy feel. It is good for Clifton to have a different pub option over what is already on offer and I think the bar will be pretty popular. I for one will definitely be back to sample some of their gins. To find out more visit their website.

A donation was made to homeless charity Street Smart in return for the food and we paid for our drinks separately. 

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