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The best possible tastes at the Bildeston Crown

PUBLISHED: 11:22 21 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:18 20 February 2013

The best possible tastes at the Bildeston Crown

The best possible tastes at the Bildeston Crown

It's a tough job, but someone had to do it . . . Richard Bryson samples a gourmet taster menu at one of Suffolk's top hotels

Its a tough job, but someone had to do it . . . Richard Bryson samples a gourmet taster menu at one of Suffolks top hotels




Good food and service plus fine surroundings go hand in hand with all our selections in this best breaks feature, but what if you really want to indulge?
What if you are seeking a sumptuous, multi-course meal with myriad flavours, then a hotel bed for the night so you can sample some fine wines and not have to contemplate driving?
Can I tempt you with the tasting menu currently being offered by The Bildeston Crown?
This beautifully put together selection of treats doesnt have to go with an overnight stay but it seems to make sense. You enjoy the food and wine and then, particularly at this time of year, snuggle down in one of the highly individual rooms at this charming high street inn.
And for those who have skimmed down this article, picked out some of the dishes on offer and maybe think it is all too much, a couple of points.
The tasting menu is just that . . . a chance to sample something you may not have tried before. Its all beautifully cooked and presented, so while ordinarily I would have thought twice about Confit Gizzard and Heart Stew, when placed in front of you, and after perhaps an inquisitive inspection you gently fork into your mouth, it is a nice surprise.
Maybe I wouldnt seek it out again but Im glad Ive tried it. You never know you might discover something that really excites your taste buds.
My other point is these are small courses. Enough to appreciate the dish, and the expertise of chef Chris Lee, but not an amount to make you quit this culinary journey half way through.
See panel right for details of the dishes we sampled, along with carefully selected glasses of wine to go with each course.
As we retired to bed one of our party neatly summed up the evening. Eight courses sounds almost gluttonous but the size of portion and the focus on high quality ingredients and a relatively low carbohydrate element is actually spot on. You feel you have had a feast, a real celebration but dont feel unpleasantly full.
The eight course menu costs 70 per person rising to 100 with a flight of wine.


Tasting Special
Book for Chriss Tasting Menu (including a flight of wine) at 100 per person and if Monday-Friday, stay the night at 75% room tariff.


The Bildeston Crown Hotel, 104-106 High Street, Bildeston, Suffolk, IP7 7EB. Tel: 01449 740510.
www.thebildestoncrown.com




So, what was on the menu?



Smoked Haddock Chowder and Quail Egg (accompanied by glasses of Chardonnay Vanel Languedoc, 2009).


Morteau sausage Tortellini, Caramelised Pork Belly (Frascati Superiore San Marco Lazio Italy 2008)


Wild Mushroom and Truffle Gnocchi (Fino Marismeno Romate Jerez)


Soused Mackerel, Beetroot and Fennel (Vouvrey Cuvee de Silex Domaine des Aubuiseres Loire France 2008)


Breast of Mallard, Confit Gizzard, Heart Stew (Brookfields Hillside Syrah Hawkes Bay New Zealand 2005)


Selection of Cheeses (Cellar Reserve Port Quinta Do Portal Douro Valley Portugal)


Apple Pie, Apple Crumble (Moscatel Reserva Quinta Do Portal Douro Valley Portugal 2000)


Chocolate Fondant, Cherries, Hazelnut (Botrytis Semillon Vat 5 Deen De Bortoli Victoria Australia 2007)




And the taste?




Morteau sausage Tortellini, Caramelised Pork Belly (Frascati Superiore San Marco Lazio Italy 2008)
This, I believe was a variation on chef Chris Lees signature dish of Head to Toe Pork. How he makes his crackling is a state secret but thats fine as long as he promises a ready supply. The caramelised pork belly had clearly been cooked so slowly that there wasnt a trace of fat, just a concentrated flavour and a texture to complement the smooth stuffed pasta.


Wild Mushroom and Truffle Gnocchi (Fino Marismeno Romate Jerez)
The gnocchi just melt in your mouth and its hard to believe that a dish with a texture so soft has such an incredibly intense flavour. With truffle as a companion I dont think Ive ever tasted mushrooms so good. Excellent choice of wine too.


Soused Mackerel, Beetroot and Fennel (Vouvrey Cuvee de Silex Domaine des Aubuiseres Loire France 2008)
Not my favourite perhaps but still recognised the subtle merging of flavours and the expertise of the cooking.


Breast of Mallard, Confit Gizzard, Heart Stew (Brookfields Hillside Syrah Hawkes Bay New Zealand 2005)
I confess to baulking at the heart stew although my husband very much enjoyed it, said one of our party. She added: Even when cooked by Chris, Im not great on offal. But the mallard was delicious and as we were eating in October, the dish clearly trumpeted in the game season with great confidence. Elements of this dish reflected the roasted breast of duck with heart stew, gizzard sausage, confit duck legs, dauphinoise potatoes and squash pure which saw The Bildeston Crown beat the Hairy Bikers for the taste of Suffolk last year and having now sampled it I can see why.


Selection of Cheeses (Cellar Reserve Port Quinta Do Portal Douro Valley Portugal)
You could say that a cheese board has more to do with the talents of the individual cheese makers than the kitchen and full credit must indeed go to these British cheese producers. But presentation and the accompaniments take The Bildeston Crowns cheeses into a completely different arena. Much praise for the goats cheese and the truffle-infused honey was described as absolute heaven. Loved the rustic looking little crackers too.


Apple Pie, Apple Crumble (Moscatel Reserva Quinta Do Portal Douro Valley Portugal 2000)
Not your average apple pie or crumble. Good sharp-tasting apple (though not over-sharp) and a beautifully made mini-crumble.
Lovely dessert wine, and Im not usually a fan of sweet wine.


Chocolate Fondant, Cherries, Hazelnut (Botrytis Semillon Vat 5 Deen De Bortoli Victoria Australia 2007)
I believe every good meal should end in chocolate and what can be better than an exquisitely cooked fondant. I know when describing the food I want to use the word melt far too much but the taste sensation is just that. The cherries, both a sweet and sharp contrast, might suggest Black Forest gateau but certainly not a 1970s steak house version.

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