Last week I had the absolute privilege to experience an evening with the chefs at The Pony and Trap. In its third year, this wondrous foodie evening offers an eight course menu that combines the genius cooking efforts of chefs from three of Bristol’s most renowned restaurants: Josh Eggleton of The Pony & Trap, Nathan Muir of The New Inn and Toby Gritten of The Pump House. This year there was an extra treat of a guest chef at each of the venues – at the Pony and Trap: Lee Pascoe from The Star & Dove.
Catching on to the recent buzz around the Michelin Star awarded restaurant in Chew Magna, The Pony and Trap was incredibly high on my list of places to eat. As part of my birthday presents it was the perfect way to complete the celebrations (which I managed to span 19 days this year! 🙂 ) Set in the lovely village of Chew Magna, the venue is a cosy country pub in keeping with its surroundings. The food however, is not your standard country pub affair.
The eight course taster menu began with two amuse-bouche (I admittedly had to google the plural for this and it appears you can write it with or without the ‘s’) – A ball of venison followed by two cheese based delicious spoonfuls: Stilton, pear and walnut together with ewes curd, beetroot and balsamic reduction. I will definitely be expanding the latter into a larger salad dish for any future dinner parties.
We were somewhat hesitant about the next course which on the menu was simply stated as ‘Eel, Gribiche, Chicken’. Of course we should have had faith in the judgement of our chefs as this was of course delicious. Subsequently described by my dining partner as “fancy chicken nuggets” this turned out to be three pieces of breadcrumbed chicken on an eel gribiche – which on further clarification appears to be very similar to a tartare sauce, with the small pieces of eel adding that extra umph.
Mackerel followed, the fish bone presentation proving that it began is a full fish! A combination of mackerel tartare dollops, mackerel wrapped in a green parsley gel and small mustard balls that popped when you touched it with a fork (there’s probably a more technical term for this) adorned the plate along a line of herbed breadcrumbs.
Next came my personal favourite course of the night: duck! A beautifully cooked breast of duck was accompanied by offal, potato cake, carrot puree and absolutely scrumptious red cabbage ketchup. YUM! It was so good I finished off the rest of the boy’s plate too! 😉
A lighter course gave us a little break: Montgomery cheddar fondue flavoured with apple and vanilla was delivered in a cute little cup and saucer with a cheese biscuit.
The dessert was a particular highlight. ‘Rhubarb, Custard’ turned out to be a delicious combination of rhubarb sorbet (I have to give this a go), a creme brulee mound, toasted marshmallows and poached rhubarb. For a guy that is not really a dessert fan, this became my dining partner’s favourite course.
Even the petit fours that finished off the 2 1/2 hour eating extravaganza require a special mention. Little chocolate flapjacks and tangy cola cubes that surprised the tongue.
The menu is locally sourced – the back of the menu provided a helpful list of the suppliers of each aspect of the menu which was a lovely touch. The menu also came with an optional wine flight which I opted out on this occasion as I figured six glasses of wine on a Tuesday evening was a tad excessive, even for me.
Of particular note, the service was incredibly friendly throughout – an important part of my dining experience!
Overall, an absolutely incredible evening of eating that I have already recommended to all my friends. Particularly as they have several very exciting sounding tasting nights coming up in the near future: http://www.theponyandtrap.co.uk/events. Next step is to visit the usual establishments of the other chefs: Pump House and New Inn. 🙂
Josh Eggleton is also leading the way at the upcoming Eat Drink Bristol Fashion event – a must for all Bristolians – http://www.eatdrinkbristolfashion.co.uk