Tag Archives: michelin star

Alimentum – Cambridge

“I haven’t been to many Michelin star restaurants in my life, but I think I need to start going to some more if this is what happens!”

It was a celebration, The Flame and I had notched up twenty-seven years of wedlock. A weekend in Cambridge seemed like a plan. I bagged a late spot at Alimentum, one of Cambridge’s Michelin starred restaurants. Its headed up by Mark Poynton, a celebrated chef who recently did a special stint in Manchester’s Iberica. I missed that one.

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We normally like to eat early, say seven, seven thirty but we could only get an eight thirty slot. A couple of ‘liveners’ in some of this beautiful city’s famous pubs and we set off with a gentle stroll to Hills Road. A touch to The Flame’s annoyance I hadn’t thought it fully through. It was a good half hour from the centre. Perhaps a taxi would have been a better idea!

Unlike much of the ancient city, Alimentum is set at the base of a modern tower block close to the railway station. We ventured in, fairly ravenous from an early lunch. We were warmly met, coats dispensed and placed at our table. Our table was set in front of a large envelope shaped window with a glorious view of the brigade preparing the nights food. I was totally thrilled.

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View from the table

The room is elegance personified, red is the featured hue giving a wonderful warmth to the modern room. Ivories were being tinkled. Just needed a pair of slippers to complete the relaxation process!

We settled on an aperitif of sherry to start before perusing the stark, black on white menu. A thing of graphical beauty. We decided to forego the seven course taster (£80 each) on account of the time and stick to the three course a la carte (£70 each). The choices are simply described using single words to highlight the main elements. No lyrical waxing here!

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Amouse bouche first, lancashire cheese bon bons (I think) and some incredible black cuttlefish things set in a box of architectural gravel. Seconds of aural pleasure. For the first course The Flame went for Mackerel (scorched, bolognese, celeriac and cuttlefish tagliatelle). It was a mere morsel really, set in a huge copper coloured bowl, it was thoroughly loved though.

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The starts, bon bons, bread, veloute

I went for Eel (smoked, duck liver, apple, dandelion, truffle). The eel came set in cubes dotted about the plate around the liver of duck. The accompanying globules and shreds of flavour completing the stunning effect.  A veloute of mushroom washed it down.

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Mackerel, Eel

Our second course was halibut and venison. The flames Halibut (pumpkin, oxtail, savoy cabbage) was crushed in pumpkin seeds and pistachio. A croquette of ox tail complete with smears of green completed the picture. My saddle of Venison (prune, chestnut, blue cheese, girolles) was set on a glossy glaze of chestnut and prune. A cigar of ‘wonderfulness’ encased the blue cheese. Utterly tremendous dish. I was genuinely upset when the last morsel went in. A mouth cleansing dollop of ‘gin and tonic’ prepared us for the dessert.

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Venison, Halibut

I simply went Lemon (curd, white chocolate, fennel) whilst The Flame went for cheese. The lemon and chocolate was dolloped with precision, the fennel slice, perhaps arranged to represent the many university buildings in the town? Added a savoury touch. The cheese board was a classic and was beautifully described and presented. The Flame chose well. Smoked, blue, soft, hard and creamy, all English and superb.

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Cheese, gin and tonic, Lemon

Coffee, brandy and petit fours were delivered to round off. The bill with tip added came in at just over £200. A snip for this quality. It is sadly quite rare that we eat like this, so I can’t compare to many. The French (reviewed here) probably shades it and Ormer (reviewed here) are pretty much the only other dining experiences of this ilk. Alimentum delivered a superb evening, fully befitting the occasion. Go if you can….

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Alimentum
152-154 Hills Road
Cambridge
CB2 8PB
T  01223 413000
http://www.restaurantalimentum.co.uk

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Ormer – St Helier, Jerseys

“Another Michelin Star restaurant on Jersey, don’t mind if I do…”

The Flame had arranged a quick week in Jersey. No problem I thought, the place is steeped to the gills in Michelin starred restaurants and the place heaves with quality raw materials. Within minutes I’d booked Ormer. Its Michelin star has been honed by its mentor, Shaun Rankin. I couldn’t wait to get there. Mid hols we sauntered from our hotel through the mean streets of St Helier to Don Street. It’s just off the main pedestrian shopping area.

Smart decor. The pass from our table
Smart decor. The pass from our table

Ormer dominates Don Street with its smart double frontage. The bang on trend mustard leather chairs shine through the front window which itself is daubed in indigo. The theme continues inside, complemented with walnut and cream. You could be entering a smart Soho club. The gentlemen at The Drones would be most appreciative. I later discovered it was designed by Martin Brudnizki who has designed a good number of smart London eateries. My hunch was most accurate.

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We decided to go straight to the table. A phalanx of uniformed front of house executives enquired about our wishes. A couple of sherries were set down whilst we poured over the menus. We decided to go from the Spring menu (£48 three courses). Whilst the choice was limited, I was drooling. It seemed to tick all the boxes I was looking to tick that night. A taster menu for £75 was on offer as well as a stunning a la carte. As with most smart menus on Jersey, it’s local, high quality produce is high on the agenda.

The menu, arancini
The menu, arancini

From our seat we could see the pass via a classic chandelier. We could see Head Chef, Lee Smith and a pretty extensive team beavering away. It all looked pretty slick. A couple of crab arancini balls came through as an appetiser. By now a nice bot of Pinot Grigio was cooling in the wings.

Using the spring menu we simply picked the lot between us. The flame had the scallops, which came dressed with a carrot purée, cumin and lime marinated carrot, coriander oil and yoghurt. As you would expect, beautifully cooked, my tiny slice of scallop was perfect! It was all I could get. That said I think I won the opening round. I had the steak tartar, which itself came piled on a block of focaccia. It was accompanied by a stunning bowl of horseradish panacotta. It arrived dressed with colourful, foraged shrubbery and then slicked by a waitress with a dark green nettle purée. The combination was truly sublime. Possibly the best dish I’ve had in years. Flashes of the sort of dish we had at Simon Rogan’s The French.

Scallops, steak tartare with horseradish panacotta
Scallops, steak tartare with horseradish panacotta

For mains I had the lamb whilst the flame had the turbot. We opted for sides of asparagus and the ubiquitous Jersey royals. The lamb featured beautifully pink loins as well as sweetbreads. It came with an assortment of aubergine, pickled artichoke, tomatoes and a whipped goat’s curd. It provided a wonderful array of flavours and textures, a stunning plate. The Flame announced her fish, complete with cauliflower, samphire, a pine nut crust and a bevy of sea based foliage as a triumph. The morsel of turbot I had was superb.

Lamb, turbot, Jersey royals and asparagus
Lamb, turbot, Jersey royals and asparagus

The flame won the desserts. She had the soufflé with vanilla cheesecake ice cream, poached rhubarb and ginger and mascarpone foam. The soufflé was a warm, luxurious, creamy explosion of taste. My strawberry salad with yoghurt sorbet, meringue and strawberry broth was refreshing enough, and it looked the part, but a bit boring for me.

Soufflé, strawberry salad,
Soufflé, strawberry salad,

Coffee arrived with its own garden of delights. Nuggets of nutty popcorn a top soil of coffee/chocolate granules was a final treat. The white and dark truffles adding a further luxury touch. A cracking end.

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The final bill with service was just over £80 each, but this was a quality offer. This was a real treat for me. I thought it was a truly stunning meal set in wonderful elegant and classy surroundings. Despite the formality I still found it completely relaxed. The flame, however, felt it was a little too formal for her, particularly for a holiday binge.

That said, it’s a full recommend from me, I’m still having dreams about that steak tartar………………….

Ormer

7-11 Don Street
St Helier
JERSEY JE2 4TQ
+44 01534 725100

http://www.ormerjersey.com

Mark Jordan at the Beach – St Aubins Bay, Jersey

“Another restaurant with a ‘celebrity’ chefs name in the title. It must be good? It is…”

Mark Jordan and his duck
Mark Jordan and his duck

The Flame and I set about a short break in the largest Channel Island Jersey. A super little tome called ‘Appetite’ listed and described all the decent grub outlets on said Isle. A quick schufty soon had me planning the food for the week ahead. I’d seen Mark Jordan on Saturday Kitchen one time putting up a decent fist of getting Jersey ingredients on the map. I was bitten.

Told you it's by the beach
Told you it’s by the beach

Amidst a beautiful, four mile beach jaunt from St Aubins harbour to St Helier we stumbled upon the striking deep red exterior of ‘Mark Jordan At The Beach’. Bit of a mouthful, but the branding gets it over with a flourish of signature and contemporary font. It’s smart. I ambled in to book. As I was attired in the standard holiday fayre of tailored shorts, T shirt and Jesus sandals, I enquired on the dress code for a Friday eve. A smart, young Lancastrian called Andy suggested I would be welcome as I was, provided I didn’t add socks with the sandals later. Fine advice I thought. One for the gentlemen readers to take through life. As it happened, the inclemency of the weather on Friday meant that a longer pantaloon was selected with a full leather boot!

My tailoring advisor/front of house expert Andy, was on hand once more to welcome us in for our evening appointment. The room is light, long, narrow and bright. A super view to the sea. ‘Pebbly’, ‘sand duney’ artwork adorns the walls. We are by the beach after all. Tables are light wood with comfortable wicker seating. The option to sit outside beneath the stars was declined. Despite being the end of May it was a little too cold for that. A rather wonderful Innis and Gunn IPA had me purring with delight. Followed up by a splendid bot of ‘Dry River’ Shiraz for a mere £16. Top stuff.

Beer, butter and terrine
Beer, butter and terrine

A flurry of high tech menus came into view. The a la carte menu and the Jersey festival spring menu. It’s a British menu, using top, local ingredients. There’s a strong bias on Jersey fish and seafood, though being ‘crabbed’ out I went for meat tonight. Cheese straws with a flavoursome hummus came in as a pre starter. We munched away. For real starters I went for a cheesy crab risotto (£9.50) whilst The Flame plumbed for the ham hock terrine (£9). Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my risotto I fear The Flame went 1-0 up. The ham hock was a cylinder of pure meaty joy, particularly when doused with the homemade piccalilli placed alongside.

Cheese straws humous, risotto
Cheese straws humous, risotto

Mains were meat based. The fish looked amazing but we had grazed on the sea all week. The flame had a wonderful medium rare Scottish rib eye (£19.50). Suspended on a trivet of sautéed potatoes and a bed of spinach it was cooked to perfection. The béarnaise sauce alongside adding the piquancy when required. I had the 30 hour cooked, Harmony Farm, short rib of beef (£18.50). It came with a flurry of watercress, pickled carrot and a horseradish mash. I wondered if perhaps the blade of bone was a prop to suspend the succulent meat, such was the ease at which my fork was able to tease the flesh from its setting. The mash was a delight too. I equalised, 1-1.

30 hour short rib,
30 hour short rib,
Rib eye, ham hock demolished, the bill
Rib eye, ham hock demolished, the bill

The flame won the dessert though. A salted chocolate tart with pistachio ice cream (£8.50). Beautifully presented with a swirl. I had the pear tarte tatin (£8.50) which our waitress informed us would be a twenty minute wait. No problem to us. This meant we could finish our wine!

Salted chocolate, pear tatin
Salted chocolate, pear tatin

Coffee arrived with a quirky selection of ‘lollipops’. We shared the fifth (a macaroon). A super end to a wonderful meal. The flame reckoned this was our best on the island, no mean feat after what we had had so far.

Petit fois, pebble art
Petit fois, pebble art

All in all the grub came in at a shade over £50 a head. Well worth it for the quality of food, service and setting that we enjoyed. The restaurant is run by Mark’s wife Magda, whilst he concentrates on his Michelin star effort ‘Ocean’. It’s a fabulous, relaxing place and has a great team. Definitely one to seek out if you visit this rugged little island.

And you can even wear your shorts! But no socks!

MARK JORDAN AT THE BEACH
LA PLAGE
LA ROUTE DE LA HAULE
ST PETER
JERSEY JE3 7YD
Telephone 01534 780180
http://www.markjordanatthebeach.com