We popped into The Pass for lunch and were completely blown away by the whole gastronomic experience. Unbeknown to us this was their first day back after a two week break and they were showcasing a new menu.
This was our first visit to The Pass, being previously apprehensive about the whole chef's table concept. We couldn't have been more wrong. There is more than enough space between the tables to retain privacy whilst appreciating the open kitchen at the same time.
The restaurant is ultra modern and a lot of money has obviously been spent on all the fixtures and fittings. There is a long cushioned bench on the far wall with big swivel chairs facing. The bench has the birds eyes view of the kitchen whereas the swivel chairs have strategically placed monitors on the wall capturing all the machinations of the kitchen from different angles.
Upon entering the hotel we were greeted amicably and asked if we would like a drink at the bar before heading on into the restaurant. We declined this offer and were then seated and given the menu.
Basically you have a choice of 3 menus to choose from. The Experience is three courses and costs £25.00. The Gourmet Experience is five courses and costs £35.00. And finally The Pass Experience is seven courses and costs £55.00. This last one was the one that we opted for.
After we had ordered we were bought over some nibbles consisting of Parmesan biscuits, Parsnip crisps, Bread sticks and the most delicious truffle mayonnaise ever. This was a wonderful start to the meal and sure did set the tone for what was to follow.
Next came the amuse bouche which was a gorgeous onion velouté with pine nuts and roasted garlic. The taste was velvety smooth and sure did hit the spot. The anticipation at this stage as to what was to follow was thus enhanced beyond our wildest dreams.
The first course was Burnt leek, black sesame seed, confit potato & anchovy. The potato was perfectly cooked and complimented the anchovy and leek just fine. The anchovy was in some kind of batter which I had never experienced before and I found it rather moorish. All in all a wonderful delicate balancing of flavours and textures.
The second course was Braised leg of rabbit, prune purée & sprouts. Now this one was not what I was expecting. The rabbit was reformed into a cigar shape, coated in breadcrumbs and positioned alongside the spouts and purée. The taste was unbelievably good and as the previous course worked extremely well with its accompaniments.
Forgot to mention that fresh brown and white bread was bought to the table along with soft butter and a variety of different textured salts.
The third course was Roasted scallops, crushed chick pea, poached pear, lemon and liquorice. My partner is allergic to fish, this was not a problem, he had Slow cooked pork belly, bramley apple, pickled sweet potato & Buddha hand. Both dishes were sublime and one begins to appreciate all the different processes that the chef and his team have to go through in order to create such heavenly dishes. My partner particularly enjoyed the taste of the Buddha hand having never previously experienced or heard of it. He felt that it actually lifted the dish to another dimension.
The fourth course was Saddle of venison, braised haunch, cabbage & blue cheese. Now where to begin with this little beauty. The venison was perfectly pink and meltingly sumptuous. The haunch was tasty and condensed in flavour. The intensity of the haunch with the blue cheese topping was pretty unique and expertly created in order to appreciate the depth of all the different components.
The fifth course was our absolute favourite and the reason that we will be returning again to The Pass. It consisted of Creamed goats cheese, pickled apple & celery popcorn. This dish reminded me of some of the dishes that I experienced at Arzak in San Sebastion. There was little balls of apple that upon entering your mouth burst open and teased and tempted your taste buds until you submitted. Absolutely gorgeous. The celery popcorn was inspired and totally original in its concept. Popcorn that tastes of celery! Sounds kind of strange but tastes beautiful. The goat cheese mouse was light and delicate and was a nice contrast to the regular goats cheese that was also on the plate. The pickled apple slices were full of flavour, wafer thin and perfectly placed to pick up the cheese and the celery. This course is the most outstanding and highly original dish that we have encountered in a long time. Well done to whomever created this little piece of magic. It is sublime to say the least!
The sixth course was Pumpkin panna cotta, pumpkin seed oil ice cream & pumpkin oil pastille. Now I have to be completely honest here and say that I didn't actually like the pastille. I found it rather harsh and not at all pleasant to my taste. The salt was too much of a contrast to the other components and in my humble opinion was not complimentary at all to the dish itself. Saying that though, my partner thoroughly enjoyed his and couldn't see what my problem was. The panna cotta was beautifully smooth and likewise was the ice cream.
The seventh and final course was Chocolate ganache & rhubarb doughnut. What a cracking finale to this monumental feast of the senses. The ganache was divine and expertly executed. The rhubarb worked beautifully alongside and the doughnut was a little bundle of yummylicious fun.
All courses were presented artistically and were visually stunning. There is obviously an enormous amount of work involved in creating such interesting and stimulating courses and I would like to thank you for making our lunch so highly memorable. In our opinion The Pass far outweighs any other restaurant that we have eaten in in this country. The Pass will definitely get a second Michelin star and we would like to wish you all the best luck in the world.
Lastly, phew, I would like to mention the service. The chap that served us and explained every course was very friendly and highly professional. He was on the ball as regards when to clear plates and when to pour wine/water etc. He worked the tables in a relaxed/formal manner and surely is an asset to the concept that The Pass exudes. Also the French waitress was charming , friendly and clearly an asset too. Service here is second to none. Friendly without being too friendly. Formal without being too stuffy. Balance like the food ... Perfect :)
Total cost for 2 seven course meals and one bottle of house wine was approximately £145.00 and worth every single penny and maybe a bit more.
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