We jumped at the chance when we were asked to review the taster menu at Freemasons at Wiswell
not far from Clitheroe. We've been before, almost a year ago, but Mrs Bacon was so tired then that she almost fell asleep in her soup. This was no reflection on the food which was and is very much a level or three above traditional pub food. Without further ado straight onto the meal we had on this occasion.
We were offered some bread to start, this was good if not spectacular and should have been served warm. The waiters and waitresses were sweet but it felt like they were new and slightly nervous. I had the option to have the wine pairings but Mrs Bacon put her food down at driving me home inebriated so it was just a couple of beers for me sadly. (Good beer though).
The taster menu was as follows:
Soup Velouté of English Pumpkin and Parmesan, Foie Gras Hot Dog
. Gorgeous hearty soup but with a twist; a light fluffy foamy layer on the top and hidden bits at the bottom. The Foie Gras Hot Dog is a brilliant idea but in practice was a disappointment. This was because it was covered in breadcrumbs rendering the whole thing quite dry and losing the rich foie gras taste in the mix.
Hand Dived Scallops
Tandoori Roast, Gammon and Pineapple, Pork Pie Sauce.
I loved the scallops, delicate, soft and sweet, they worked perfectly with the texture of the crunchy pork. But I didn't need the pineapple with the gammon, the meat was lovely but I'm not a fan of anything sweet and savoury, although I appreciate the nod to 1970's cuisine. (Mrs. B disagrees she's asked me to point out).
Roe Deer Roast Loin
and Tartare, Parsnip, Pear and Stilton, Smoked Chocolate. A beautifully realised dish especially the fresh clean tartare. All the little elements, the purées and blue cheese worked so well. Loved it.
Roast Rump and Kofta, Chargrilled Aubergine, Mint and Yoghurt. Another real winner with both of us. The quality of the lamb was excellent
, really really lovely. The other elements again were perfect. I asked Mrs B for a bit of hers as I'd finished, and she begrudgingly gave me a tiny bit about 2mm square. There's no greater compliment I can give than that.
Partridge Poached and Roast
, Leg Meat Kiev, Celeriac and Smoked Bacon, Roast Chestnut Velouté. At this point Mrs B chose another dish, the Quail.
To be honest neither of us loved either of these courses. I can't recall eating Quail before, although I'm sure I must have. I wouldn't rush into eating it again, I just don't like the texture of it. The Partridge
was better, but they weren't our favourites of the mains, but that's more of a personal taste rather than the quality of the cooking and produce.
Both puddings were very strong as they had been on our previous visit.
Old English Apples
Millefeuille, Brown Butter Ice Cream. Superb. Light crispy pastry and lovely attention to detail. An absolute delight.
Pistachio, Macaroon, Hot Chocolate Sauce. Technically very good, so light and fluffy and truly delicious. Loved the theatre of pouring the chocolate inside. As good as the one we had at Le Gavroche
. It was really big though! It could easily be half that size.
Coffee and Homemade Treats.
We were impressed with chef Steven Smith
's cooking, it's come on even from our last visit. The interior is pretty much exactly my perfect country pub, I wish they'd have started a fire in the grate though, it would have been even cosier. The service was quite slow and needed to step up a bit and bring some warmth to proceedings, (more of a personal touch makes a huge difference). But the team seem quite young and new, so I'm sure they will grow into it.
There are many pubs that have reputations for good food, but this is a unique place we think, as it offers a perfect balance of hearty local produce but with an extra sophistication you don't often see. Highly recommended.
*Freemasons at Wiswell was recently rated the highest ranking British pub in The Sunday Times 'Food List'.
Atmosphere: Beautiful Country pub.
Star dish: Nidderdale Lamb.
To see the earlier review click here.
To see the photos in hi res here.
Soundtrack; Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want - The Smiths.
* I didn't pay for this meal, but I always tell the truth see here.
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