My highly anticipated birthday lunch last week while spending a couple of days in Bristol was a pre-booked lunch at The Ethicurean, a restaurant set in a Victorian walled garden in the pretty Mendip Hills. The ethos of the restaurant, created by four friends with a passion for food, is a focus on seasonality, ethical sourcing of ingredients and the local environment. In just two years, The Ethicurean has been awarded both the Observer Food Monthly Best Ethical Restaurant 2011 and a Michelin Bib Gourmand 2013 and after having found out about it I was keen to go.
The weekly changing menu reflects the best of ‘new British’ with most of the produce coming from within just metres of their kitchen within the garden. I ate Barley Wood Asparagus, Ewe’s curd, Cucumber and Anise for my starter which was super fresh and the small asparagus tips were al dente, sweet and freshly picked. Unfortunately the nettle soup I was hoping to try had just finished for the season as they pick the newest nettle leaves for it. For main I had Confit Leg of Creedy Carver duck, fondant potatoes, Leaves, with Tomato and Onion Seed Chutney – the duck was the best duck I had ever tasted – it fell off the bone and was deliciously moist. My husband Matt had the 12 hour Pork Belly with Rainbow Chard, fondant potatoes Pickled Apple, Mushroom and Chipotle Salt which of course I sampled, and it too was faultlessly cooked and extremely flavourful. There’s definitely a noticeable increase in flavour when the ingredients are so local and fresh – we thought the same when we ate at River Cottage canteen last Summer.
I complimented my meal with a wonderful glass of Soil Association approved organic, sulphite-free white wine from Kent and finished it by ordering an indulgent warm soft Chocolate Brownie with a Salted Dark Chocolate Ganache and Caramel shard. So, so good. I bought the new cookbook as I left as had already had a flick through at a bookshop the previous day. Very excited to try cooking their unique seasonal dishes for myself and cocktail recipes. Will post about the results when I begin!