- 31 Jan, 2018
ALBATROSS & ARNOLD | REVIEW
It's a well-known fact that January sucks. We're well and truly on a Christmas comedown, it’s bitterly cold & wet, we haven’t seen the sun since like, last October and it's been a very long and dismal 6 weeks since payday.
People everywhere have been sacrificing their love of meat in exchange for plants and partaking in the even more depressing 'Dry January' in the hope of offsetting their alcohol consumption from the extravagant month before. Given that I’m an avid muncher of meat and a serious alcohol aficionado these activities are clearly not for me. I did, however make a conscious effort to try and eat more healthily and exercise more than twice a month but have failed spectacularly at both.
One good thing about January? Burns Night. A supper held in celebration of the life of Rabbie Burns; Scotland’s national poet is traditionally a night of fun and frolicks and an excuse to down a wee dram or three.
First on the evenings agenda was of course, the ‘Address to a Haggis’. A recital of the poem, written by Robbie Burns to honour his appreciation of the Haggis, was excellently delivered (and Scottish accent nailed) by one of the waiters followed by a very dramatic stabbing of the haggis with a knife.
The menu was originally to be matched with Whisky, but a few exceptions were made for those of us who confessed that it would be totally wasted on us, and it was substituted for wine instead.
And now, the food! To start; a grilled Scottish artichoke served with butter emulsion and tomato concassé (finely chopped tomatoes).
I’ve always thought myself an adventurous eater. In fact there aren’t many a fare that I haven’t tried at least once. But an artichoke served whole had me completely stumped and I literally didn’t know where to start. I picked it up, put it down, tried to cut it with my knife, scoop it with my spoon, I even licked it, bit it and subsequently spent the following minutes picking the husky strands of its outer shell from my teeth.
A while later and after looking around the restaurant at some similarly blank faces, good-old Google helped us figure out how you should tackle it. I mean, how was I to know that you have to suck, or with huge difficulty pull the tough outer petals through your teeth to remove the inner and most pulpous part of the petal? I had kind of tried that already, but decided to give it another go.
Working my way through the leaves to get to the eagerly anticipated heart took what seemed like a lifetime, but when I finally got there it was nice. Whether it was worth all that effort, is another matter. The starter was paired with a crisp and refreshing Escale Chardonnay which accompanied the dish fantastically with its butterscotch notes.
Next came a whisky-cured Scottish salmon accompanied by tiny globules of pickled cucumber. The salmon was light and the cucumber refreshing, I could have eaten it again and again. This time, the course was matched with a fruity Jacques Vertier, Blanc Vin de France which went down without a glitch.
The third course was a superbly tasty haunch of venison on a bed of parsnip puree with a freeze dried blackberry dusting. The meat was rare, soft, flavoursome and was perfectly paired with a glass of Rioja Crianza from Bilbao, which with its fresh dark fruit aromas was ideal with the blackberry sprinkle.
To end, a creamy Cranachan of raspberry and lavender with toasted granola and honey. It was rich without being heavy and the raspberries were sweetened with the honey - delightful.
I took a sip of my final glass of wine for the night (a cherryful Aussie Merlot) and peered around at the empty dessert glasses. It seems the night had been a huge success and rightfully so. Albatross and Arnold may be a small restaurant but the atmosphere would have you thinking otherwise.
*Meal complimentary of Albatross & Arnold and The Blogger Dining Club, but as always the opinion contained in the words above are honest and my own, obvs.