We start the seven course taster menu with some snacks in the bar area. This is the only thing I'd personally change about our lunch at Northcote. I'd prefer to have the option of going straight to our table on arrival in a restaurant of this calibre.
However this really isn't a problem as the bar area is pleasant and the snacks are excellent. A light little puff of beetroot meringue and a bite of moist and crunchy pork are lovely openings. Already we know we're in for a real treat, you just get that feeling. Looking at the menu too, there is nothing that we don't love on there.
Unusually for me I go for the wine flight to accompany the food. Often our friends do this in Spain. On multiple course tasting menus it can be a mistake as it's so easy to get legless without fully taking in the food properly but with seven courses it works well.
We are shown to our table into a busy dining room which has been modernised since our last visit, brightened and opened out. It still has the tablecloths etc, I like all these accoutrements of fine dining which fashion seems to (wrongly in my eyes) have turned against these days.
We begin with the Juniper Fern Cured Wild Sea Trout, Wasabi, Pickled Radish Shoots, Wild Herbs. Wine: Sancerre Rose, André Dezat, Loire Valley, France, 2014.
A lovely, light and delicate starter using some beautiful Scottish sea trout.
Sticky Veal Sweetbread, Morrels, Verjus, Thyme Flowers. We're huge fans of sweetbread, we both loved this rich and deeply flavoured dish. Wine: Encruzado, Quinta dos Roques, Dao, Portugal, 2014.
Wine: Riesling, Loiserberg, Jurtschitsch, Kamptal, Austria, 2015. Another winner, so comforting and lovely. BBQ Monkfish, Roast Salsify, Tarragon, Apple Vinegar. Wine: Directors Reserve, Tokara, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2012 The fourth course is a skilfully cooked beautiful piece of monkfish. Herdwick Lamb, Sour Onions, Nasturtium, Whey Reduction. Wine: "Velvety" Monica de Peñas, Ribera del Duero, Spain 2015. I often go for this region's reds and this one was a stunner! The soft and richly flavoured lamb is some of the finest I've ever eaten in a long while. It gives me the classic memory of lamb from childhood.
Lemon Meringue Pie. Wine: Riesling Auslese, Schlossberg, Heinrichshof, Mosel, 2015. A nice touch was when Nigel Haworth came down to meet us and give us a tour of the kitchen. He's charming and chatty and affable, exactly like he is on the TV!
It's a real joy to eat here and a reminder why we need fine restaurants like these in troubling times. Life feels good when lunch is as good as this.