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Monday, February 18, 2013

&, the chefs table at Bubledogs, a review



Valentines came and went. The meal we mistakenly went out for should not really be mentioned on the same page as the meal we subsequently had in which we had our little culinary socks blown off. 
Apologies in advance for the appalling camera work, i'm not one for lingering with a camera when food is placed in front of me.
Tangents already, this could take a while, right, where to begin?
....perhaps the beginning as we strolled past the growing queue stretching out of Bubbledogs, "who are they?" I heard people cry as we were ushered into the bar.

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After an 'exchange' with a bar keep with minimal words, expression, attention we received our cocktails, mine an absinthe sour, Kats a Damoska which had lime and damson jam notes. Very pleased with my choice as it was punchy with its sourness and really cleared the palate ready for lay ahead. We were excited and the scene was set

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This is the chefs table where we very happily spent the next three hours, a great concept, much like the supperclub I hold, in that the kitchen is completely open and on display. The only downside was that it was difficult for Kat to get any conversation from me as I was engrossed in the activities playing out in front of me.

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We started we raw mackerel with a sparkling wine granita and apple, a fantastic start as really opened our mouths and palates to what was ahead. The fish was firm and delicious and the apple not to sour and was complemented by the sweet apple puree underneath that sort of wrapped it all off on your tongue. nice 

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Cod's roe that i believe was smoked and then served with shavings of dehydrated scallop roe and warm crusty rye bread (not 100% rye obv!) This was plate licking goodness at its finest as we both mopped up the smoked cod with gentle scallop seasoning, could of done a whole bowl quite easily!

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As flavour combos went, this was the boom of the evening as we had crispy chicken skins, rosemary mascarpone and bacon jam in one, which ticks some serious textural and flavour boxes leaving us both giggling slightly and pretty damn happy.

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Forgot to get a shot of this as we both dived in, half seared salmon with a bergamot, lime and cucumber yoghurt, so fresh and refreshing and again the playfulness of the textures of the salmon.

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Perfectly cooked and seasoned scallop, with the tang and sweetness of rhubarb, some little turnip rings and a mustard leaf of sorts. Kat wondered about the purpose of the leaf and I am thought it was an interesting additional flavour but agreed it was perhaps unnecessary. The scallop, rhubarb and turnip were a delight though!

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This also appeared on our list of game changers, the cal├žot, like a thick spring onion from Catalonia  with bags of flavour, mint puree and leaves, creme cheese (cheese and onion..) and onion powder. Delicious and very interesting, got me thinking about cheese and onion crisps as recently dehydrated cream cheese with some tasty results.

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Mac and cheese, sort of, more perigord and mac. When asked if we wanted some extra truffle I blurted out "yes of course!" as we rarely have the time or money for dinners like these so figured why hold back, and we didn't. The truffle was as it should be, meaty yet soft, earthy and lingering, subtle yet intense. I do love truffle. So unlike anything else. I remember as a sip of wine (sorry Jack, forgot to write down names!!) and it opened everything in my mouth up and I sat there, smiling to myself, probably looking a little odd to all outside my truffle bubble!!

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A textural play once more as a succulent piece of lamb was placed before us with dehydrated pickles & raisins, oats, wheat, barley all of which played beautifully with the lamb and its jus. The rosemary backing it all up with a hit of earthyness and the pickles (fennel?) lifting things on your tongue so that your mouth has a proper good teasing. James and his team were kind enough to do the same dish but with a chicken thigh for Kat who feels lamb to cute and earthy for her tastes. Damn your attention to detail! This usually means two dishes for me!! 

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The lamb dish was accompanied by, well basically the best shepherds pie you'll ever get to eat as, full of depth and meaty goodness, rich and delicous, topped with creamy mash (butter% up to 40 me thinks?) and some little diced red peppers. Kat and her none lamb ways received a venison ragu, boom, that was again a touch of class and fortunately she couldn't manage it all so I happily helped. Some of the guys in the kitchen think she got the better deal, maybe so, but I think overall i did!! 

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Mrs Sharpham from Devon, you do make some exceedingly good cheese! Ripe & creamy; James told us it was the cream of Devon and he was damn right! Concorde grape puree with candied black olive and basil. This was basically mouthfuls of gooey creamy goodness, sweet fruits and salty yet candied olives with a peppery bite from our mini basileus. 

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As you can see from the image above the camera work really did start to deteriate by this point as Jack had been very attentively recommending wines as we went along, highlights were definitely the Reisling, the Gruner and the pinot noir, actually loved them all, the wine from Beune and the 100% granache all tticked the box at just the right time and complimented the meal perfectly. Like this little palate clenser did. Entitled mango, what fruit is there with such downright deliciousness and succulence? I wish one day to have a mango tree in my garden. I'd move country to do so. Puree , granita, fresh young coconut, yoghurt, pupils dilate and that smile widens. Love the way the cheese course was snuck in after the lamb and then followed by the cleanser, smart, a nod to the french, and left us feeling light rather than gorged. 

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After being suitably cleansed what better then to have our spirits lifted with a shot of coffee in the form of ice cream, with milk puree, coffee crumb, caramel and malt loaf. This was phenomenal. I dont have a sweet tooth, I have about three and a half, and this danced all over them leaving me sitting perkly in my chair with a few bits of maltloaf stuck in my teeth (maybe a tad too big n chewy?) but delicious and a toothpick would of been great for kat as she wouldn't of had to witness me remove malt loaf and then re eat said malt loaf. oh happy days

Finished the meal off with a mandarin marshmallow teacake with dried ottweed seeds which i did in one, much to the amusement of those around me but left me feeling slightly foolish, but rather happy with myself. 

To conclude:
This was a treat, a well earned and well delivered treat. We felt like we were friends with everyone who crossed our paths, we were made to feel so welcome and special by the way we were looked after, spoken to, and fed. The attention to detail as I mentioned before was fantastic and the experience of the FOH showed, thank you Sandia and Jack. as for the food, well, it was soooo good! The perfectionism takes places on the days, hours and minutes leading up to that 7:30 seating and then the stage is set, the audience is positioned and we were indulged. Many thanks again to James and his team, those we saw and hose we didn't. You made our night (and saved my bacon!) and have inspired so much in me.

Thank you

ian

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