Culi­nary in­trigue

CATHER­INE COURTE­NAY vis­its a rather spe­cial restau­rant in the heart of Clifton

Somerset Life - - THE MENU -

It should be a high­light of din­ing out; that first glance at the menu must cre­ate ex­cite­ment and an­tic­i­pa­tion of the evening ahead. Iberico pork presa, crushed sand pota­toes, lesser calamint, birch sap… Well­bourne’s a la carte menu does the job very well, it’s pep­pered with the prom­ise of in­trigu­ing culi­nary ex­pe­ri­ences.

It should be spe­cial though, hav­ing been set up by chef duo Ross Gibbens and Michael Kennedy, who were both at Dab­bous in Lon­don and have a string of high-end restau­rant ex­pe­ri­ences be­tween them. Open­ing in Au­gust 2017, Well­bourne is the first of three restau­rants; Well­bourne Salardu in the Span­ish Pyre­nees fol­lowed in Novem­ber and in April they opened Well­bourne Brasserie in White City.

Well­bourne taps into Clifton’s neigh­bour­hood feel through its street cor­ner lo­ca­tion, sim­ple in­te­rior – and by of­fer­ing brunch. Ta­bles wrap around the bar, with ban­quette seat­ing to the rear. It feels un­fussy, a place to pop in and en­joy a glass of wine and linger a while with some bar snacks: cheeses, char­cu­terie, sim­ple sour­dough or per­haps a plate of vol-au-vents. Sam­pling a vol-au-vent is a must, whether savoury or sweet, they are a house spe­cial and these spoon­fuls of per­haps mush­room, chicken or salt cod in the light­est of pas­try cups, dis­ap­pear all too eas­ily.

Thank­fully, if you’re sat by a win­dow you’ll find the menus hang­ing on clip­boards along­side, so you can re­fer to them through­out the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and check up on all those flavours.

Starters in­clude a cool­ing mix of Dorset crab with a wave of jerusalem ar­ti­choke, sur­rounded by a light al­mond cream. It is beau­ti­fully re­fresh­ing. The salt cod con­fit with girolles and those sand pota­toes is per­fectly fin­ished with sea herbs, namely sam­phire and sea purslane. A tiny sprin­kling of well cho­sen leaf or herb can do great things. The lesser calamint on a dish of vi­o­let aubergine with miso makes such an im­pact and how won­der­ful to see the hum­ble run­ner bean, slightly charred and with in­tense flavour, el­e­vated to lofty foodie heights. An­other main, the Iberico pork presa, black gar­lic, wood­land mush­rooms and cavolo nero has the punch of an earthy au­tumn feast.

There’s dither­ing over dessert so

Richie on front of house rec­om­mends the choco­late fon­dant. “It’s not like any other fon­dant you’ve had,” he says. When it ar­rives on a bed of choco­late crum­ble he slowly pours fig leaf olive oil over it. It seems a ridicu­lous amount, but it works so well. All the sen­su­ous­ness of choco­late but with none of cloy­ing heav­i­ness; rich and strangely re­fresh­ing, it’s an­other mini mir­a­cle from the Well­bourne chefs. well­bourne.restau­rant

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