Monday, 13 August 2012

The Kingham Plough, again!

A little gem found in the countryside within Cotswolds. My friend and I have dined here before in 2011.

We enjoyed our last experience in the Kingham Plough and thought that the food was fantastic where local resources were used and the fresh ingredients well utilised.

Despite recent reviews (on Tripadvisor), some good, lots bad, I decided to bring my parents there based on my previous experience.

This pub/restaurant serves food which is a cross between fine-dining and pub grub. Food you normally find in a pub, carefully decorated like one can find in a fine-dining restaurant.

Outside the Pub

On the table

The tables were presented in a rustic way, like you would find in some of Jamie Oliver's restaurants.


Bread and Butter

Nothing better than nice warm bread with a big spread of creamy butter to start the evening.

For starters.....

Cockle and Sweetcorn Chowder with New Potatoes

We had the cockle and sweetcorn chowder with new potatoes. It came beautifully presented with a pot of fragrant chowder and a colourful array of yellow sweetcorn, green parsley, little cubes of new potatoes and dainty cockles.


The cockles were very fresh and the sweetness of sweetcorn subtlely coming through the light and fresh chowder.

Then for the main course.......

Madgett's Farm Chicken Breast, Sweetcorn and Baconstuffed Leg, Hash Brown and Alan's Stick Beans

The chicken breast was well seasoned, soft and tender with a nice crisp skin. The stuffed chicken leg was really juicy and sweet with a smoky and salty flavour coming from the bacon. I loved the hashbrown made with lots and lots of thin potato strips then fried into a biscuit, giving a very crisp texture!

Poached Cornish Haddock, Smoked Haddock Fritter, Samphire and Butter Sauce

The poached haddock was really fresh and nicely cooked through. The fritter was an absolute delight, fried to perfection with a very tasty batter which gave a nice crisp.

And the star of the night......

Rump of Hereford Beef, Horseradish Butter, Triple Cooked Chips and Daylesford Leave

Rump of Hereford Beef topped with a big round slab of horseradish butter (melting on the hot steak), served with triple cooked chips!


We ordered the steak to be medium-cooked. The chargrilled steak was very juicy, tender, sweet and had a fragrant 'BBQ-smoky' flavour. The rich and creamy butter melting on the steak was just the perfect compliment and one would not need any sauce of any kind to enjoy this steak!

The chips, TRIPLE COOKED CHIPS, were mmmmmmmm.........mmmmmmmmmmm......mmmmmmmm......delicious!

If you have watched Heston Blumenthal cook triple chips on TV before, you will know what I mean.

A super crispy outer layer that goes 'crack, crack, crack' as you take each bite, with a super fluffy and soft inside. This is what I call the most delicious chips you will every try!

We thoroughly enjoyed our food within a light-hearted and relaxed environment!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Lunch at The Stonemill

It was a random encounter with this lovely restaurant, tucked in the beautiful countryside of Wales.

The short story goes like this.

We were on our way back from a visit to an organic farm somewhere in Monmouthshire. Being very hungry as it was already lunch time, our plan was to head towards Monmouth town, find a pub/restaurant then settle for a nice pub lunch.

We were driving along long, winding country roads with tall bushes, trees and some random cottages on both sides of the road. Then, as we passed some stone buildings by the road, we were engulfed by very aromatic smell of FOOD!

We could not stop in time to turn into the road by the buildings, so we drove past and discussed whether or not to turn back. About half a mile later, being very hungry and still quite some way away from Monmouth town, we decided to make a U-turn and head towards the nice smell of food!

Hence, we arrived at The Stonemill Restaurant @ Rockfield.

Outside The Stonemill

A nicely decorated interior with a 'Barn Theme' complete with a stonemill right in the middle of the restaurant, hence the name.

Inside The Stonemill

The Menu

This restaurant uses local produce and even grow their own vegetables to ensure the freshest food is served to customers!

They even make their own bread, jam, pasta etc.

House-made Breads

The house-made buns were incredibly tasty, very soft and easy to tear. Perfect with a dip of good quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil!

To start -

Smoked salmon, new potato & chive salad, crème fraiche

We had a nice, light starter of smoked salmon complimented with the very refreshing chive salad which always goes well with seafood. A very nice summer dish to start our lunch.

Sweet potato soup, white truffle oil, smoked sea salt

We also had the sweet potato soup which was not too sweet. The white truffle oil added a very fragrant taste to it and the soup is very well seasoned with smoked sea salt. A delight to have as a starter to increase one's appetite. Also perfect to dip your bread into.

Pan roasted tenderloin of pork, creamed potatoes, ratatouille, red wine jus

The pan roasted tenderloin of pork was very well cooked. It was very tender and had a pleasant char-grilled taste to it. I loved the silky smooth mashed potato with a rich taste of butter and the bed of ratatouille was simply filled with flavours of stewed vegetables.

Roasted breasts of wood pigeon, summer vegetables, smoked bacon, saute potatoes, red wine jus

The highlight of our lunch was the roasted breasts of wood pigeon sourced from Mr Arnell in Monmouth. It has a very nice gamy taste to it and was perfectly cooked still a bit pink to prevent the meat from getting too tough. The bacon added some smokiness to the dish and the addition of green peas make the entire dish like having pigeon in the woods!

A very enjoyable lunch indeed.

We were just glad that we followed our noses and found very good food!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A Michelin Star Affair

With my parents visiting the UK, I have booked for us to have a Michelin star experience in one of two Welsh's only Michelin star restaurant - The Crown at Whitebrook.

The head chef, James Sommerin, was one of the contestants in this year's The Great British Menu!

Fine dining in a Michellin star restaurant is not just about enjoying good food, it is also the entire experience of the surrounding, atmosphere and service of the place.

Tucked in the middle of woods within Wye Valley, Monmouthshire, this restaurant is set in beautiful surrounding for fine dining.

The interior is simple yet elegant with a mixture of old and new.



Before we start......


While we were waiting to be seated at our table, we were served a complimentary pre-starter consisting of (from right to left on picture above) Butternut Squash Soup, Chopped Spiced Tomatoes, Deep Fried Tapioca Ball and Cheese Puff.

The soup was very rich and suitably sweet. The chopped tomatoes were full of flavours from the different spices coming through nicely to complimented the sweetness and sourness of the tomato.

The Tapioca ball was a delight with very crunchy exterior and the texture inside is like glutinous rice but much less sticky/thick. The Choux pastry of the cheese puff was made well as it has a very nice puff and the cheesy flavour was just nice as it did not give an over-powering taste.

Nice combination of four bite-sized treats to whet one's appetite.

And then there was more......


After we were sat at our table, we were served with more pre-starter! A small pot of sweet corn mousse, small pieces of bacon and crisp noodle-like item.

The sweetness of the sweet corn complimented well with the smokiness of the bacon topped with a crisp noodle giving it another layer of texture.

It was like having a de-constructed, posh sweetcorn soup.

and more......

Butter (unsalted/salted)

A dollop of house churned butter with the option of salted or unsalted as you can see speckles of coarse sea salt on top of the butter.

This is to be served with a host of different house made breads including Oatmeal bread, Soda bread, Onion bread and Organic white bread.

House-made bread

And now we shall start......

Loin of Wild Rabbit. Almond, gingerbread, pear

I had the loin of wild rabbit with almond, gingerbread and pear. A very unique combination of flavours and textures that wonderfully came together.

The rabbit loin was very tender and well seasoned. Accompanied by spicy gingerbread, sweet pear purée, poached pear and fragrant reduced almond jus. It was absolutely delicious!

Pan Fried Scallop. Iberico ham, parsley

My friend had the pan fried scallop with Iberico ham and parsley.

Perfectly seared, the scallop was very juicy and sweet (fresh seafood sweetness). The saltiness of the wonderfully cured Iberico ham perfectly complimented the sweet scallops. Topped with fragrant parsley foam, this was a very well executed dish showcasing fresh scallops.

Grey Mullet. Smoked eel, avocado, shiso

My dad had the grey mullet served with smoked eel, avocado and shiso.

The grey mullet was perfectly seared giving a crisp skin. Served with smoked eel mousse wrapped in smoked eel, shiso and avocado jelly. The smokiness and sweetness of the eel, the sweetly bitter avocado jellies (adding freshness) which complimented the fish really well with different flavours and textures.

Seared Langoustine. Smoked bacon, potato, wild mushroom

My mom had the seared langoustine served with smoked bacon, potato and wild mushroom. The langoustine was very fresh and sweet although not as good as those we had in Red Skye Restaurant. Nevertheless, still a very nice dish with soft potatoes, crisp bacons, earthy wild mushrooms all carefully chopped to an even size and filled with flavours which compliments the sweet langoustine well.

Followed by the mains......

Hay Baked Venison. Celeriac, root vegetables, chocolate

I had the hay baked venison served with celeriac, root vegetables and chocolate sauce.

The venison had a really fragrant (like fresh out of the barn) and gamy taste to it. Surprisingly, the cocoa flavour of the chocolate complimented the venison really well as it intensifies the taste of the red meat.

The celeriac and root vegetables were all seasoned very well and cooked al dente.

Welsh Lamb. Garlic, charred leek, lamb sweetbreads

My dad ordered the Welsh lamb served with garlic, charred leek and lamb sweetbreads.

The lamb was pink and tender, served with smoky charred leek and the sweetbreads were a delight to eat!

Pan Fried Turbot. Cauliflower, wild mushroom, samphire

My mom had the pretty looking pan fried turbot served with cauliflower, wild mushroom and samphire.

I had to take the picture of the pretty drawing of the shape of a fish with cauliflower purée from an aerial view.

The turbot had a nice crisp to the top and was well cooked through. The samphire (like a seaside variety of asparagus) was a perfect match to the fish dish as it gave a 'taste of the sea'. Then you can find the subtle sweetness of the cauliflower purée coming through nicely to give the dish another dimension of flavour.

Label Anglais Chicken. Summer truffle, broad bean, asparagus

Now, I have to say that this was the star dish of the night.

Label Anglais chicken served with summer truffle, broad bean and asparagus.

Truffles are expensive for a few good reasons. Not only it is very difficult to find, a few shavings of the expensive stuff gives a wealth of flavour to an otherwise dull dish.

People rarely order a chicken dish as a main course, unless there are some reasons why they cannot have other meat, as chicken can lack flavour compared to other meats.

But this 'chicken cooked three ways' dish is an absolute delight! There were unusually tender chicken breast, crisp chicken croquet and tasty chicken sweetbread served with a sauce and purée made of chicken stock and truffle oil.

A delicious and sophisticated dish where every mouthful is an enjoyment of great culinary excellence!

Towards the end......


After some rich food, we were served this pre-dessert made of brownies, spiced pineapple cube-lets and pineapple sorbet.

To end......

Strawberry, Dark Chocolate

We ended the evening with a dramatic entry of 'strawberry and chocolate' on a box where smoke infused with strawberry scent was flowing out making it look as if the box was floating on a lake.

It was like having a 4D effect of culinary experience where first your sense of smell was triggered then you enjoy the taste of the food.

This was actually a de-constructed Strawberry Cheesecake made of cream cheese, strawberry ice cream, frosted strawberry pieces and vanilla ice-cream in a chocolate cone.

 Delicious and just nice after a rich meal!

Passion Fruit, Dark Chocolate

We also had the passion fruit and dark chocolate soufflé.

The soufflé had perfectly risen to a nice height and baked to a nice tint of brown.

The passion fruit and dark chocolate complimented each other well, although we thought the big 'chunk of passion-fruit flavoured jam' on the inside was less enjoyable.

Raspberry, Dark Chocolate, Strawberry

I had the lovely raspberry, dark chocolate and strawberry dessert made of raspberry sorbet filled with vanilla ice-cream, frozen strawberries and chocolate brownies.

A nice combination of sweet and citric taste.

Fig, Apple

My mom had the fig and apple dessert which was essentially a de-constructed fig and apple tart served with fig ice cream, apple jam and some honeycomb.

Although it looked beautiful, we did not enjoy this dessert as much as the others at it was generally too sweet.

People often have the presumption that fine dining means leaving the restaurant still hungry due to 'big plate, small portion' being served.

But we thoroughly enjoyed the nice experience with excellent service and our stomach filled.

I must compliment the chef for using new and original combinations of flavours to bring out the best of each main ingredients in the dishes! As well as using many different and modern techniques in preparing the dishes!

This was a truly Michelin Star experience!