My wife and I ate at the Cottage for Valentines night, or rather the Saturday before Valentines. Originally we were meant to go as a threesome with a friend but she sadly couldn't make it so we decided to go ourselves anyway and are very glad we did! Warmly welcomed on a rather foggy night we were quickly seated next to the fire in the lounge enjoying pre dinner nuts and drinks, the drinks being very welcome, it well past beero'clock! It was a set menu for Valentines which suited me very well as I can't stand large menus that require in depth reading and analysis, quite frankly I switch off and glaze over, so not having to choose and think was fantastic. we were looked after by Kath, the owner, and she checked with us to make sure that there was no problems with any of the dishes. The starter was a tortellini of lobster served with "trotter", I having a quite serious pork obsession was thrilled but my wife was less sure, Kath quickly put her at ease and described the dish and made it sound enticing and not at all scary. The wine list is good and very well priced, my wife had some wine by the glass and I, being a man had beer! After our drinks we were taken through to our table and there was a lively atmosphere in the restaurant, not loud and obnoxious but a chatty, laughy, happy, busy sort of atmosphere. Plenty of people watching if you are that way inclined, as I am! We were brought some lovely homemade bread and some crunchy bread sticks. I was thrilled with the whole-meal beer bread, genius, two important food groups in one! A velvety smooth, aromatic mushroom veluté followed, with tiny little crunchy bits on top. This was followed by the lobster tortellini I alluded to earlier. it sat on top of a crispy deep fried chicken nugget and was filled with unctuous pieces of melting braised pigs trotter, it was "real food" refined and delicate, The whole dish was sauced with a light shellfish sauce and had some freshly foraged Bittercress on top which gave a wonderful peppery note to the sweetness of the lobster. The waitress knew instantly what the greenery was when I asked. I had to get some more bread to mop up my juices! Next followed a hunk of pan roasted turbot with an creamy smooth cauliflower puree, thousands of tiny little shrimps, pinenuts, all wonderfully balanced with the sauce, a charred leek (or maybe spring onion) and an occasional sweet burst of sultana. More bread mopped this one up. Now, as a porkahloic I'm not wild about chicken but the main course was a roasted Goosnargh chicken breast, with wild garlic, potato gnocchi and tiny little pickled mushrooms. The skin was crispy and the chicken moist, tiny little leaves of wild garlic added a gloriously indulgent garlic note and the sauce conjured the best roast chicken memories, many a vegetarians undoing! The last of the bread mopped my plate clean. The plate incidentally was a beautifully glazed brown affair and felt organic, warm and homely, just the thing to put a roast chicken on. i didn't ask but a nightmare to polish I should imagine! it was so nice to have crockery that wasn't white!
Next to come was a "Tom Collins", very ginny, very lemony and very welcome! It was both refreshing and invigorating and cleared the way for the cheese. You could opt for either cheese or dessert, I had both. The dessert was a tropical fruit affair, a passionfruit parfait and ruby grapefruit sorbet and lots of tiny little dices of fresh fruit. it was light and creamy with just the right balance of sweetness and acidity, could i have eaten more of it?...Of course! The cheeses were all local and presented as all the food had been with precision and beauty. Simple biscuits, celery and apple accompanied the cheese and allowed each cheese to be enjoyed with out the distraction of chutneys and the like, just the way it should be. We didn't have coffee or we'd have been awake all night but it smelt wonderfully rich and I enjoyed the aroma none the less. The staff were gorgeously friendly and always smiley. They really seemed to be enjoying themselves, almost as much as we were.
The Cottage is the sort of place you book to come again before you leave, which is exactly what we did, although next time it will be lunch!
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