Kenny Atkinson at Rockliffe Hall.
The photos bring back some fond memories. Here are my notes on a couple of dinners we had there last May.
Pre-starter: A small teacup containing pea soup with pieces of pork cheek and some wild garlic shoots on top. Lovely, light but with intense flavour.
Starters: Scallops with cannelloni of carrot and Whitby crab, golden raisins and crab jelly. I picked up some fennel notes as well. Very good cooking, the scallops were the star, everything else just adding a note here and there. Line caught mackerel with gooseberry textures. One of Atkinson’s dishes on The Great British Menu. The mackerel was rolled in a thin slice of bread, bringing an interesting element to the dish. The gooseberries added a terrific acidity to cut through the oily, sweet mackerel. Probably the dish of the weekend.
Mains: Line caught grey mullet, jersey royals, Scarborough lobster & asparagus, broad beans and morels. Not a fish often seen on menus, this was delicate and soft, but not dominated by the veg. Not sure the lobster brought much to the dish, but well-balanced all the same. Risotto of fresh peas, spring onions and mint, slow roasted tomatoes, parmesan crackling and pea shoots. This could convert me to vegetarianism. I love risotto and this was lovely, very rich but moreish, and the parmesan crisp was lovely.
Desserts; Vanilla pannacotta with rhubarb and raspberries, lemon and elderflower. Not something I’d order but Anne was very happy with it. Dark chocolate pave, gingerbread ice cream and cherry textures. Nice enough without being memorable.
Pre-starter: Another teacup with white onion soup, smoked haddock and wild garlic. Creamy, rich, bags of flavour.
Starters: Scallops again with the carrots being replaced by apple and fennel. Weirdly, this time I couldn’t pick up any fennel flavours. Still a good dish though. Yorkshire Duck – 3 hour poached duck egg, white asparagus and ratte potatoes, broad beans, morels and truffled mayonnaise. This was amazing, the duck egg yolk being rich and viscous in texture. The truffle flavour didn’t dominate the dish and the whole thing was a very clever idea.
Mains: Poached and pan roasted roe deer, cauliflower and beetroot, braised shoulder tattie pot and sage. From the GBM. The tattie pot was sticky and packed with flavour, the roe deer not as gamey as venison can sometimes be. Very good. Roast loin, confit shoulder and sautéed sweetbreads of lamb, peas and mint, young leeks and cherry tomatoes. Again, first class execution, lamb was full of flavour, but could have done with some potatoes in my opinion.
Desserts: Strawberry jelly crumble, strawberry sorbet and elderflower custard foam. Again from the GBM. Anne enjoyed it, but not my cup of tea. I thought it a little dull. Warm dark chocolate fondant, red wine poached cherries and cherry ripple ice cream. Wonderful fondant, perfectly cooked and everything else just went well with it.
One thing to bear in mind is the portion size, which is very modest. I’m not a big eater, but this did strike me. The mains were about half the size of what you would get at Café 21 in Newcastle. I think some diners might be rather surprised at this.
Overall, wonderful food, comparable to one star Michelin cooking at a London restaurant. Service was highly professional but not stiff in any way. Prices: £45 for the alc. The full GBM menu, including his rabbit starter, is available at a pricey £70. Six courses, although one comprises a glass of champagne and the cheese option attracts a £10 supplement. Oddly, the supplement doesn’t apply to cheese on the alc.
re: Al Toon
Sounds fantastic Al , some lovely combinations on your menu.
As for pricing , mine was £65 for the prestige ( ended up 11 courses ) and £50 for the wine pairing.All good things to report and no grumbles at all...well maybe £4.95 for coffee n treats was a little bit naughty but by then i was too stuffed and googley eyed to bother anyways.