OK, I've been asked by a fellow blogger to post more restaurant reviews, so here goes. It's one from a couple of months back, which I posted on my old, now defunct blog, so I thought I'd re-post it here (with the benefit of very slight editing) to give you something to be going on with... Sadly no photos, but I hope the descriptions of the food give you a reasonable idea.
As a unashamed foodie, I love trying new restaurants, particularly those whose reputation goes before them...
And so it was that in December last year I booked in for lunch at one of the Gordon Ramsay stable, The Boxwood Cafe. It's always a treat going out for a good meal, but I always have a special buzz of excitement when going to a restaurant run by a chef whose food I admire hugely. Now, I realise that Gordon isn't in the kitchen much these days, even at his flagship restaurant, but nevertheless, you just know that you can expect a certain standard from one of his places, not least because he seems to install some fantastic executive chefs - in this case, Stuart Gillies.
Well, the Boxwood certainly didn't disappoint. Although we opted simply for the set lunch (a steal at £25 a head), there was nothing remotely 'second best' about it. First, we had a generous serving, for an amuse-bouche, of jerusalem artichoke soup. It was difficult to think how it could be improved - earthy, velvety, with that moreish duskiness all the way through.
And then, onto the main action. We started with a seasonal warmer - braised lentils with salsify (such a treat!) and chestnuts. This was a dreamily, creamily unctuous dish, topped with delicate, crisp ribbons of sweet parsnip. Lentils never EVER tasted this good before....
Next, we opted for duck leg confit, with braised red cabbage and garlic potato crisps. Confit duck appears on a lot of menus these days, but rarely does it fall of the bone with the ease it did here. And the red cabbage? Well, I'm not usually a big fan, but this was delicious - fruity, without being overbearing, and with just the right amount of tartness, without being acidic or vinegary.
So far, so very good, then - as was the wine, a youngish but ready Rhone, at a reasonable £26 for the bottle.
But now for arguably the sternest test - in my book, at least - dessert. Mmm, what to have? I am always tempted by anything chocolate - but, at a restaurant with a reputation, I like to see if they can surprise me by making something I wouldn't normally think of ordering into something I would happily eat for the rest of my days.
So, in this case, I opted for the vanilla and ginger cheesecake with a raspberry sorbet. I can't honestly remember the last time I had cheesecake prior to this meal. And as for raspberries and sorbet - well, my foodie dreams aren't usually made of this.
Until now. I'm not a religious type, but dear Lord, this was something else. The cheesecake - a tall disc of a dessert, about two inches high - was as perfect as one might dare to imagine a cheesecake could be. Vanilla and ginger in perfect harmony - vanilla certainly the dominant taste, but with a whiff of ginger running through it to give it a welcome spiciness. And the sorbet? Raspberries haven't tasted like this for, well, many a long year. In fact, I'd all but given up eating raspberries because they always seemed to be a big let-down. But here, the sorbet was positively bursting with that old-fashioned luscious, ever-so-slightly tart, berry-ness. Lovely, lovely, lovely. And a surprisingly successful match with the cheesecake - I thought it would overpower the latter, but no. They complemented each other absolutely perfectly. In fact, this was a dessert so good that I'd rank it amongst the very best I've ever eaten.
To finish, the coffee (a double espresso) was spot on, and the petits fours (a delicate macaroon and chocolate fudge) were delicious, and a faultess finale to a absolutely cracking meal.