Once a month overlooking the famous Brabazon golf course, head chef at the Belfry, Ryan Swift – formerly of Hampton Manor and Dormy House – creates a six-course tasting menu in the hotel’s restaurant, the Ryder Grill. Having sampled Ryan’s food before, we made sure we were all over June’s culinary adventure.
Firstly, tasting menus tend to be expensive. Not so here. The £45 for six courses seemed like a steal. Chuck in a wine flight and obviously the cost rockets, however it’s still competitive.
Secondly, with a tasting menu there’s a lot of interaction with waiting staff which doesn’t always lend itself to a relaxed dinner. It can feel a bit disjointed. In this instance the waiting staff, i.e. Carlos, enhanced the experience. We could have been served cold porridge and we’d have loved it.
Rather than go through all six courses and matching wine, which would be slightly dull for you, the reader, here are the stand out dishes.
A pretty dish of scallops with a subtle curry flavour and cauliflower cooked various ways – pureed, deep fried and pickled – was gorgeous. For the record, pickled cauliflower is utterly delicious and worked with the creamy puree, sweet scallops and rich flavours adding a freshness and vibrancy. If anything, we’d have liked more of the pickled veg. A New Zealand sauvignon worked beautifully.
Perfectly cooked pigeon breast was sensational served with a rich sticky jus and the classic combo of peas and bacon. The plate was taken up a notch with the addition of a foie gras ‘sausage’ wrapped in lettuce which although sounds like a heart attack on a plate was just superb. A light rioja worked brilliantly with the pigeon.
Not one for a pud, but a fan of a macaron, a giant pistachio and white chocolate version served with cherries was pretty special. Chewy, sweet and nutty with a bit of tartness from the cherries and served with a glass of 30-year-old port, it was moreish – even after five courses.
There were no poor dishes on the card at all – these three just stood out – and we reckon once word is out about the tasting menu which tends to be on a Wednesday or a Thursday, you’ll be lucky to bag a table. Checkout the website for future dates and get one locked in else you’ll miss out. What is it the youngsters say? FOMO. Go.