We enjoyed ourselves immensely, that’s not to say all is as it should be.
We opted for the 5 course (6 with cheese) tasting menu. It’s described as follows :
“Let us lead you on a journey through the tastes of the season with a series of five surprise courses. Created daily, using only the finest ingredients and focussing on local produce, this menu develops across the evening leaving you satisfied and with memories of the finest food available in Shropshire”
What we got was dishes from the a la carte menu but scaled down. Not exactly “five surprise courses”. Nor for that matter complete courses. If your cauliflower risotto, with tempura cauliflower comes without the a la carte promised goat’s cheese foam, then it’s not a complete dish. Simply the a la carte dish with a component missing?
The table is set bereft of salt and pepper, a confidence which we like and respect. That said if you rely on the kitchen to season properly and then they don’t, all is not as good as it might be. The above referred to risotto was woefully under seasoned, a large pinch of salt and a twist of the peppermill away from good. Followed by a greatly over salted rosti with the main. The kitchen will have noted the remains of rosti on the returned plates.
The starter of pressed duck confit was the high point. A smashing ballotine of duck with raisin puree, steeped raisins and crispy Palma Ham, there was a rocket mousse (not pesto) too, which you either loved or hated. Well seasoned and an excellent entre. A real test of the taste buds.
For the most part the further dishes were a little style over substance. Clean, precise presentation but rather subdued flavour profiles. Where there were flavour high spots, the blackcurrant sorbet over the honey parfait for instance, this jarred rather than complimented or gave balance. The parfait just in the lost in the noise and as a result of its subtlety in the fight against the all-powerful and shouty loud sorbet.
Further irritation is that the tasting menu represents poor value when compared with the a la carte. The individual full dishes add up to less on the bill than the reduced sized and component tasters.
The white wine is served at a smidge under room temperature, certainly not adequately chilled.
You get charged £7.00 for water (2 bottles) delivered in bottles with broken seals, could be £7.00 tap water, only the kitchen knows? The table next to us had water jugs. I guess that they are regulars and are wise to this dubious practice.
Notwithstanding the above, which is acutely critical, the meal was on the whole good, the evening very enjoyable and there is a desire to return. Credit must be given for the work that has gone into these dishes and the care taken, it didn’t always work, but it might well next time. In this part of the world it’s refreshing to see someone bringing something new and challenging the rather dated norm that otherwise prevails. All credit to Saracens for that. Credit too for the service a la table, best service for many a mile.
In summary Saracens is an adjustment in seasoning, a better wine fridge and tweak or two away from excellent. Just now they are somewhere between good and very good.
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