I will try and stay disciplined … this is supposed to be a restaurant review of The Ethicurean but it may lapse into a wistful celebration of the British seasonality described in sumptuous words and pictures in ‘The Ethicurean Cookbook’ and brought to life over a convivial lunch
Mrs Deli has a keen eye for the foodie scene and reels off the names of chefs and restauranteurs as though they are personal friends. You can imagine her chagrin as her philistine of a blogging husband ambles back from lunch muttering about a “nice lad called Jack who joined us for lunch“
Jack (Adair-Bevan) is one of four friends who take the hard-won seasonal bounty of the Barley Wood Walled Garden and weave it into the philosophy of The Ethicurean:
ethicurean adj. the pursuit of fine-tasting food while being mindful of the effect of ones’ food production and consumption on the environment
It would be hard to imagine a better day to have found oneself sat in one of the original glasshouses “… built for Henry Herbert Wills of the Imperial Tobacco Company in 1901 * … the year in which Queen Victoria drew her last breath …”
* Words taken from ‘The Ethicurean Cookbook’
Spring sunshine streamed through the windows, warming the spirit of the assembled lunchtime diners. Everything about the restaurant draws you in … the beauty of your surroundings, the charm of the buildings, the warmth of the greeting.
Service is friendly, unobtrusive but attentive
The food is allowed to just speak for itself … gorgeously presented, it is deceptively simple. A feast for the eyes, the tastes are fresh and Spring-like, subtle infusions adding invention and flourish to fine British ingredients and cooking
After a stunning brawn appetiser (the menu spoke to ‘Brawn, English asparagus, leek ferment and St George mushroom barigoule’), my starter of Homewood Ewe’s curd, with cucumber salad and anise crumb was beautifully served and light to the palate. My neighbour had a picture perfect cuttlefish salad, the yellow of the fermented piccalilli capturing the sunshine mood
When my culinary race is run, there is a fair chance that you could leave my body to the British Pig Association for research purposes … I find it almost impossible not to be drawn into porcine menu choices.
And so I was to be found on a sunny afternoon at The Epicurean relishing every morsel of the 12-hour pork belly, honey glazed chicory, flat bean pulse with pickled and burnt apple. Mouthwatering seems too simple a description but as I type these words, but they are the only ones to match that moment.
Fellow diners raved about the Cornish hake and as I gazed to my left, I almost had food envy at Bavette of Gloucester beef dish a local restauranteur was tucking into with unadulterated relish
Mrs Deli despairs of my lack of inclination towards dessert, which naturally limits the breadth and depth of any Restaurant Reviews I might write.
I took a straw poll of two lady diners on an adjacent table who appeared driven to inappropriate levels of ecstasy for a lunchtime by the Milk Stout and Chocolate Steamed Pudding … enough said!
The Ethicurean Cookbook is structured around a growing and harvesting year, celebrating food production in the changing climate of Britain … it seems to me that I should find reasons aplenty to adopt a ‘Man for all Seasons’ approach to The Ethicurean, visiting this walled world in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter in ‘the pursuit of fine-tasting food’
I know I will not be disappointed
Barley Wood Walled Garden