06 March 2010
Our first visit to the Bingham since it has received its much lauded Michelin Star was all we could have expected, and more. We'd been for dinner several months ago and had really enjoyed our meal.
Today it was lunch, and with a perfect table overlooking the river, on a beautiful day, we couldn't have asked for more.
The menu was annoyingly hard to choose from – particularly for me as I'm not keen on seafood and mushrooms, both of which were heavily featured. The set lunch looked fabulous, and I wavered, but eventually chose a Heritage Beetroot Salad with a Vacherin mousse, and to follow, Salt Marsh breast of lamb. My extremely unfussy husband went for the roast foie gras, followed by the roast halibut.
The presentation, as you'd expect, was excellent: small, beautifully formed portions were a joy to look at and a delight to eat. The combination of the soft vacherin and the sharp, earthy beetroot was delicious.The dish also offered an interesting mix of textures – crunchy beetroot crisps and soft, roasted beetroot as well as the velvety mousse.
My husband loved his foie gras (but it makes me feel a bit odd so I can't comment on how it tasted!).
Even the bread was fabulous, and my requested olive oil was brought willingly. The olive oil was superb – grassy, fresh and bursting with flavour.
Main courses were also delicious: the breast of lamb crumbed and fried – a most unusual treatment of lamb, but it sat on two more obvious pieces of lovely, pink, flavoursome lamb. The excellent mash that came in the cutest, tiniest little copper pan ever was a lovely touch.
M's halibut was yummy too – I avoided the mushrooms and just tasted the fish – he thought it perfect, I thought it perhaps had been cooked a little too much. Whoever was right, it was a delicious dish.
Puddings were good – I chose the chocolate tart (to be honest I didn't fancy anything else at all, not like me to be stumped for puddings) and the kitchen happily swapped the passionfruit mousse (can't abide passionfruit) for a really nice rhubarb one (how did they do it so quickly?). It was a powerhouse of chocolate flavour but very rich.
M's honeycomb rice pudding was nothing like we had imagined and all the better for it. Delicious, and I was indeed jealous.
The food was everything we could have wished for.
Only our wine was disappointing – we ordered the Hawkes Bay Chardonnay, and it was the most UN Hawkes Bay Chardonnay I've ever had (believe me, I've had a few, I'm a Kiwi!) rather “thin” and not nearly as big and buttery as it should have been. We drank it anyway, without complaint, as it was our poor choice. After a glass or two it started to taste a bit better, and certainly wasn't the worst wine I've ever had, but it has to be said it didn't give the same level of WOW as the food.
Go to the Bingham, it's fab. It's also surprisingly good value for the quality of the food – the set lunch being particularly sharply priced. Enjoy. Just don't order the HB Chardonnay!