Le Champignon Sauvage

There’s something strange about waking up at 8am and leaving at 9.30am to go for a lunch at 1pm. However, the excitement and anticipation more than makes up for the sleepy eyes and the never ending journey (we did keep asking, ‘are we there yet?’) Add to this equation a 5 year waiting time. And no, it’s not El Bulli. It’s only because we kept talking about going for 5 years and none of us actually made the effort to book it. We all had the cookbook – oohed and aahed over its food-porn pictures, the sexy use of wild and foraged foods, the lightness of it all. We had pretty high standards and expectations – a little too much perhaps? We’re going to find out.

It was just our luck to find the most irascible taxi driver probably in the whole world. He didn’t even know the restaurant – well, he did, but not by the name it’s been known for years. ‘That shithole’ was what he decided to refer to it by. ‘They’re all shitholes’ was pretty much the tone of his rambling throughout the journey. It would have been a relief to leave the cab at our destination had it not been raining and we’d arrived an hour early. At first I thought we’d ended up at the wrong restaurant as I’d imagined something a little better looking (the barber shop in front looked better from the outside!). Anyway, a quick pint at the pub next door and we were finally sat down. Beautiful dining room and lovely hand painted plates decorating each table, but the piece de resistance was this sculpture in the centre of the restaurant.

Lovely warm gougeres were followed by a not so lovely ‘knorr soup cube’ tasting amuse bouche of artichoke veloute and (bland) hazelnut foam.

For our starters we went for:

Citrus cured mackerel, gayette of pig’s trotter and whelk

Lovely dish. Light, tangy and the gayette (burger!) was just divine. The mooli noodles and peanut added a much needed refreshing and crunchy element.

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Pressed terrine of guinea fowl, smoked ox tongue, and leeks, salt baked beetroot and horseradish

Better looking than tasting. Slightly under seasoned and couldn’t make out any smokiness in the ox tongue. The beetroot itself was quite bland and there was no sign of any horseradish anywhere.

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Duck egg, duck confit and ‘crumble’ salsify with maple syrup

Some of the most flavoursome bit of duck confit I’ve ever tasted – not cured in salt like most and marinated with herbs and spices. The duck egg itself, which was slow cooked, just lent a creamy neutrality to the dish and the crumble which seemed to be crispy duck skin was great.

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Our mains brought forth:

 Winchcombe venison, lovage and celeriac cream, celeriac remoulade, pear

Quite a hearty dish and exquisite venison from the nearby town of Winchcombe. Couldn’t make out much lovage in the dish as there were quite a lot of other strong flavours.

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Pave of Cinderford lamb, Scottish girolles, crushed broad beans

Another hefty main course. Nothing overly exciting about this, but the lamb kofta was tasty.

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 Line caught sea bass, Jerusalem artichoke cream, fried globe artichokes, spiced jus

My favourite main course. Delicious. The spiced jus especially, with cumin, anise and pepper lent a lovely sweet/aromatic romance to the fish. The only thing I could say against this was the Jerusalem artichoke cream – whilst I love the vegetable, I’d also had it as a soup (albeit horrible) for my amuse bouche.


And now for desserts.

 Rhubarb poached with hibiscus, mascarpone cream, rhubarb and hibiscus sorbet gin and tonic syrup

Looked beautiful. The poached rhubarb was nice, but chewy and un-cuttable. We tried and tried, but couldn’t get it to cut. Not much in the way of hibiscus either. Possibly the hibiscus was used to colour the rhubarb and the sorbet.

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 Delice of chocolate and dandelion root, sweet potato ice cream

Sounds and looks nicer than it was. The ice cream was orange (but no flavour at all whatsoever of sweet potato – which itself has a light and distinctive flavour and making it into ice cream is a bad idea as a light flavour is only going to get much much lighter when frozen!) The delice was terrible – the chocolate casing being far too thick and the liquid centre not being very nice either. An unpleasantly mixed bitter, salty caramel liquid.

 ‘Cramique’ perdu, pressed caramelised apples, toasted almond ice cream, butter salted almonds

Again – prettier than tasty. Cramique is a Belgian brioche with raisins. That itself was nice, but the apple terrine was quite flavourless (seasonal? apples in early summer?) Almond ice cream was lovely though and you can’t really go wrong with caramelised almonds.

 

All in all, a disastrous selection of desserts. We were so disappointed that we said the only way to go ahead was to order the other desserts on the menu. The waitress however, was in disbelief and shock and kept asking us if we were serious and had to go back into the kitchen to ask the chef if we could. They did, however, charge us £20 each for the extra desserts. pfft!

 Iced bergamot parfait, orange jelly, liquorice cream

Why didn’t I order this in the first place? Yum! (Oh! I know – the others don’t like liquorice). The addition of sorrel cress not only lent colour, but added herby zing. The liquorice cream was light and not overpowering as liquorice sometimes has the habit of doing.

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 Vanilla cheesecake, salted chicory root mousse, bitter chocolate sorbet

Very similar flavour to the chocolate delice. Not very nice at all, but the chocolate sorbet was sensational – intensely dark (they’ve used 100% chocolate. Probably Valrhona Grand Caraque) and bitter and very light.

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The army of petit fours that presented itself  before us was quite impressive!

 These included: (what I remember) Almond financier, blackcurrant jelly, chocolate and hazelnut triangle, marzipan, chocolate truffle, violet glazed tartlet, nougat, pistachio madeline.

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Overall Experience: 7
Recommend you to go? 6
Food: 7
Wine: 8

Square Meal

 

 

 

 

 

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