There’s something about a tasting menu that ticks all the boxes for me.
Can’t decide what to have? Always struck by food envy and want what your dining partner has? Simply have more courses and a bit of everything.
It’s not simply about gluttony, as quality reigns supreme over quantity with gastronomical tasting menus made with the finest ingredients.
The Orangery at Ribby Hall Village only opened in 2015 and takes pride of place at the front of The Spa Hotel. The restaurant commands beautiful views of the lake and fountain while the interior is modern and spacious decorated in colourful greens and orange hues with an orange tree making a striking centrepiece.
On a rare child-free evening, we decided to try The Orangery’s tasting menu as there’s always something theatrical and creative about these menus. It isn’t extortionately priced either at £59.50 per person for seven courses. There’s even a flight of wines for £25 each with specifically paired wines. I felt for review purposes I should imbibe these - while Hubby as the designated driver sipped a Diet Coke.
Our first course was a vivid green pea and mint soup served with a ham and cheese toastie. The soup was poured into our bowls at the table with a flourish and tasted fresh with a subtle mint flavour and a burst of sweetness from the peas. It went down a treat with the honey roast gammon and cheddar cheese toastie. A glass of Bella Modella Pinot Grigio from Italy was the perfect partner with its hints of green apple.
Our next course was like a slice of summer. Smoked duck served with an orange and carrot remoulade and candied dates looked vibrant and was a wonderful mixture of flavours and textures. A glass of Umbrele Merlot from Romania was my accompanying tipple and the light red complemented the rich duck well.
A fish course of Indian spiced mackerel with golden beetroots, masala corn and lime pickle raita was next. Artistically presented, the full flavoured fish was delicious and the golden beetroot enhanced it fantastically. However, the fish was more subtly spiced than we’d anticipated. The Colomba Bianca Vitese Zibbibo wine from Sicily was crisp and fruity with a zesty finish and ideal with fish.
My only reservation with tasting menus is: “What if there’s something I don’t like?” However, if you flag up any dislikes, most chefs are agreeable to adapt dishes to suit. While I’m not a fussy eater, I do have an antipathy to sweet flavours in my savoury courses. The main event of roast fillet of Bowland beef with red wine braised onions, foie gras and bordelaise sauce did indeed have a sweet sauce but the kitchen were happy to serve my beef with mushrooms and tomatoes bursting with flavour instead.
The beef was absolutely sublime. Cooked to perfection to my requested medium, the meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender. The foie gras was rich, buttery soft and creamy and divine.
Hubby opted to have the beef as per the menu. Although he enjoyed the high quality meat, he did find the sauce too sweet for his tastes. Although he also requested medium, his beef was a lot pinker than mine and he would have preferred it cooked a touch longer. What better to wash beef down with than a glass of Casa Silva ‘Cool Coast Pinot Noir from Chile? The full bodied rich wine had big bold flavours and held its own with the powerful beef.
Dessert was like a work of art as the vanilla cheesecake, strawberry sorbet with Champagne and toasted oats was attractively presented. The cheesecake was delightfully smooth while the fruity sorbet had a popping sensation. The paired wine of Domaine de Coyeux, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise from France was deliciously sweet with tropical flavours.
Filling up nicely with the glorious food, we still had room for the cheese course with a twist of baked epoisses, marinated grapes with walnut and treacle loaf. The runny gooey cheese was a winner with the great tasting bread.
My final glass of wine for the evening was a Starboard Batch 88 from Quady Winery, California, a gorgoeus plummy port style wine.
Sated with impressive food, we rounded off with tea, coffee and petit fours. The petit fours were my only mild criticism of the meal as they were macaroons which I personally feel look pretty but are totally over-rated.
We loved every course of our dining experience with its ornate and mouthwatering food and impeccable service.
A perfect menu for a special treat.