We have a brief chat with chef Peter Sanchez Iglesias and he mentions that it is a bit trickier in Winter as they have fewer ingredients that they prefer to work with, in comparison to the other seasons. Could they then not adjust their criteria a little? I know the seasonal, local thing is a very important and integral concept at Casamia (there are wintry photos adorning the walls) but if I'm visiting in Winter I still want to be blown away as I'm spending nearly £90 plus wine and service.
The service at Casamia is absolutely wonderful especially from Mr Sanchez Iglesias Senior. We all enjoyed chatting about Spain and food and wine with him. He is such a large part of the enjoyment of the evening.
This has developed due to our difference of opinion. Although both Mr Bacon & myself strive for the ‘blow away’ dish and the ‘mmm’ moment, I am a little bit country and he’s a bit rock and roll. He’s more into richness, such as the meatiness of a wonderfully cooked (and seasonal) Hogget. Although I enjoy rich intense flavours too, they can slow me down on a mega taster menu. I love the subtle tastes of veg and fish as well.
We kick off with a pretty little pre starter snack on cracker.
Mrs B. A deliciously crunchy cracker encompassing tasty blobs of all things crisp and creamy, it impresses me from the start. I know it’s going to be a good night!
Mr B. The bread is excellent but for me, it shouldn't be a separate course. In a restaurant like this it should be offered regularly and generously throughout the evening. I feel a bit awkward asking for more later, like Oliver Twist. It is so good though that I can't not have another piece.
Mrs B. A lovely piece of bread. Reluctantly I give half to Mr Bacon, I need to last the distance!
Mrs B. Beautifully sculptured this dish for all of us feels reminiscent of our experiences of Simon Rogan’s way with vegetables, especially the drawing out the distinctive flavours, eg. the turnip is so turnipy! Then there’s the delightful contrast of the goat's curd.
Mr B. I'm not wholly convinced by this one either. It has a vinegary kick which doesn't quite work for me although it's not unpleasant. I really want that creamy comforting feeling that you often get with a risotto.
Mrs B. Not really a risotto, although I don’t think it’s even trying to be. Here I really love the powerfully flavoured wild mushroom goo combined with melted cheese and crunchy spelt, mmm…
Mrs B. Not a remarkable dish but still enjoyable, especially the crispy cabbage.
Mr B. My favourite of the mains, the deer like a wonderfully rich steak.
Mrs B. An amazing cut of tender meat, prepared to perfection. (Firstly I had to tell Mr Bacon that there would absolutely not be any going spare!) I nearly cried when I finished my last piece!
Mr B. An extra course and another winner for me.
Mrs B. As this arrives at the table the aroma of smoky hay just hits you. Then the exploding bonbon of gorgeous venison, for me is an absolute wow moment.
Mr B. Like the best cheese cracker you're ever eaten. Mrs B agrees!
Mr B. This comes in a puff of smoke and is absolutely gorgeous.
Mrs B. A dish of gloriously creamy yum, yet not too heavy.
Blood orange, rosemary. Another beautiful winner we both agree.
Variations of rhubarb. Mrs B. Again, I can’t fault it. Loved the sorbet element, which with its’ subtleness was perfect to end on.
As accomplished as it is, I found it to be a little short on absolute total joy but that may have been tempered by my own preconceived expectations too. In the end it all comes down to personal taste though as Mrs Bacon doesn't quite agree.
In conclusion, Casamia is very firmly in the one Michelin star category and I would return but in another season perhaps.