Saturday, June 06, 2009

Journey to the bottom of the sea

So just to ensure this weekend was pretty much about food, and perhaps a bit of shopping, we stopped off on the way back to the cottage to secure at table at Titchwell Manor for Sunday lunch. That done we then we got ready to come out to our much anticipated meal at the Neptune Inn. I’d done my usual trick of forgetting that a trip to the English Seaside even in a month that purports to be ‘summer’ will probably require some warm layers and sadly possibly various garments of rain protection. I was working on that age old premise that ‘I’m on holiday’ and therefore will dress accordingly, but this is Norfolk, it is June and they say the wind is very lazy around these parts – i.e. it doesn’t go around you, it goes right through you! Fortunately our trip to Holt meant that I had manage to procure a useful extra cover up and though my new wrap will be forever referred to as my ‘furry fairy wings’, though not some device to advertise being out with my like-minded attired girlfriends on the razzle on a hen night I hasten to add but I will concur that the design on the back did seem to conjure up a glamorous bat at rest. But at least I was warm!
The restaurant was one of those neutral modern places, cappuccino walls and high back stripy chairs with linen clad tables. If I was being hyper critical then I would say it was a little gloomy, but some places just want to hamper my recording of their culinary delights and then ending up looking a little murky on this blog despite my best Photoshop efforts. Maybe I will have to resort to the miner’s helmet I was thinking of deploying for restaurant visiting! How fabulous would that look with my new wrap?
Our little amuse bouche was a perfect little crunchy fish finger served in a little Marie Rose sauce (so one end of mine joined D’s) but that was exactly how a fish finger should taste, Fish fingers sandwiches anyone?
To continue the fishy theme D and I immediately opt for the Norfolk Lobster and Five Spice Mousse, Pea Purée and Lobster Salad. We could have also tucked into grilled mackerel with crab salad or seared tuna with black olive dressing. But I think D and I chose very well, the vibrant green soupy purée with that little ‘je ne sais quoi’ hit of five spice and the sweet collops of plump lobster tail partially submerged in the verdant depths. The lot was crowned with the garnish du jour – pea shoots. If I was being critical I thought that that the purée to lobster ratio was a little off but maybe I just wolfed down my lobster too quickly!
MC plumped for the pretty looking Courtyard Farm Ham and Mozzarella Terrine Poached Quail Egg. Oooh do I spy some more micro cress?
We all eschew the fish theme for our main course so instead of the pan fried brill of the red mullet MC and D have the Sedgeford Leg of Lamb, Lamb Sweetbreads, Broad Beans, Potato Purée. I can’t vouch for the lamb but I tasted the potato purée and it was pretty good. The plates were wiped clean to I guess that’s a good sign.
I enjoy the Loin of English Veal, Cauliflower Purée, Deep Fried Veal Tongue, Wild Mushroom Sauce instead and am reminded how much I enjoy a beautiful hunk of English rosé veal. So much tastier than the veal I recall from the first Italian restaurants I ever ate in, way before I’d heard the word ‘provenance’ and understood why we should eat our ethically reared British veal or else calves are culled or shipped off in crates to other countries where they do not have any sort of albeit brief life. I particularly enjoyed the little cylinders of deep fried tongue and the smooth, creamy cauliflower purée.
Our little interlude before the dessert is an Earl Grey jelly topped with milk foam in cute porcelain cups.
True to form we each find a dessert with our name on, I choose the Milk Chocolate Mousse, Ras El Hanout Caramel, Chocolate Sorbet – lots of chocolaty goodness.
D has the light, zesty elegant plate of Poached Peach, Peach Mousse, Mango Sorbet, Raspberry Sauce and Macaroons.
Our resident mouse MC enjoys a Selection of British and French Cheeses, Biscuits and Grape Chutney.
And just when we thought we couldn’t eat another thing they produce a little pot of chocolate with some sugary doughnut sticks to dip into it with a chaser of chocolate truffles. D and MC indulged in these on their last visit so D was able to resist. Even though I don’t normally get excited by doughnuts these sweet twiglets were rather fine. And obviously chocolate sauce is always a good thing!
The Neptune Inn deserves its recently awarded Michelin star; it manages to capture that breezy seaside feel without resorting to hokey lobster pots and nets strewn about the place but with monochrome coastal images and an oyster colour palette. Two forks for the Neptune, I know D and MC and planning a weekend there in August and I am sure they’ll have a truly fabulous time. I am just madly jealous that I have other holiday commitments planned and can’t gatecrash!

2 comments:

Mrs. L said...

It all looks and sounds so good. I'm intrigued by the Earl Gray jelly and milk foam.

Passport Foodie said...

Wonderful post. I will have to visit it the next time I'm in the UK. And thank you for commenting on the fact that you needed "warm layers" in June. My English Wife believes England to be a much warmer place than it actually is. :)

Passport Foodie