Friday, 15 May 2015

En Place Pop Up Dining Experience

We were lucky enough to be invited to a pop up dining experience at Millennium Point in Birmingham. En Place is a 3 chef pop up restaurant who provided us with a  6 course tasting menu and wine for £35.

This experience was set next to the Thinktank museum in Birmingham in a small cafe called 6/8 Kafe. From the moment Laura and I arrived we were made to feel very welcome and even though the venue was a small cafe it really felt like we were being treated like customers of a fine dining restaurant. We were shown to our seats by one of the chefs and had a little bit of the background explained to us. 

The first course was advertised as 'Snacks' and consisted of a Gruyere Cheese Gougers (Filled Choux Buns) and small slices of crusty sourdough with slow roasted pork and a gremolata. 

The choux pastry was really soft with just enough flake. They had a generous amount of filling which had a delicate cheese flavour. When i have had these in the past they have been quite overpowering but these were very subtle. One of my choux buns did have a slightly raw base.
The pork on the sourdough was delicious. There was an excellent contrast of textures which all complimented each other. The pork was juicy and succulent whereas the bread was thin and crispy. The gremolata added a sourness to it which was balanced well with the salty pork.

The next course that came out was Veal Tongue, Toasted Sourdough and Sauce Gribiche (Like a cold mayonnaise) 

I thought this course was presented particularly well and again gave the feel of a fine dining experience. Veal tongue is not something I have eaten for a long time so I was looking forward to having another taste. The meat was well cooked and quite delicate. The flavors were quite mild and not too overpowering. I did not pick up a lot of flavour from the Gribiche and thought it was quite plain. Again the sourdough added texture and the micro herbs were attractive and fresh.

At this point in the meal we were offered wine which we both agreed would be to hard to turn down!
I was served a Pinot Noir. I am not a huge wine connoisseur but I really enjoyed this particular glass.

Our next course was Mackerel, Pickled Radish, Samphire and a Tomato Water
This was one of my favourite dishes of the evening.
There were many different flavours that went well together which made this dish a success. The salty tender mackerel really fell apart when cut. The pickled radish was very delicate and very delicately flavoured so it did not overpower the water. The samphire was salty and cooked al dente. The best thing on the plate for me was the tomato water. A clear, slightly tanned liquid that packed a huge punch of tomato flavour with a bitterness of onion and garlic also on the palette.

The main course that was served was the Roast Chicken Thigh, New Potatoes Glazed with Thyme and Marmite and Peas a'la Francaise

I was looking forward to this dish as it read quite simple with ingredients that go well together. My only concern was the marmite potatoes as I am on the fence still as to whether I actually like marmite and also I thought the marmite would overpower the potatoes. 
Great attention was again paid to the different textures, sticky potatoes, firm vegetables and crispy chicken skin. I though the roast chicken was quite bland and parts were also dry. The rest of the dish I thoroughly enjoyed. I was hesitant about trying the potatoes, but I thought they were incredible. The balance was excellent and the marmite taste was not as strong as I thought it would have been. It gave a stickiness to the potatoes. The marmite flavour was cleansed by the buttery and fresh spring vegetables. The only element that could have been improved for me was the temperature of the dish which was luke warm, however, this is me being very picky!

The dessert was Lemon, Meringue, Iced Tea. I love Lemon meringue so I was really looking forward to this course.
I thought that this presentation was excellent and I found I was looking at all of the different aspects of the dish searching for a starting point. The earl grey iced tea was different but a taste I liked as it was lemony and married well with the lemon curd. The curd was very tart and sweet which I loved. There were small thyme infused meringues on top which were sticky, crunchy and aromatic. The thin wafer of filo pasty added further texture. This dish really entertained the palette as there were so many sweet and sour elements.

The final course was advertised on the menu as Petit Four. I was expecting some small french style pastries. I was wrong.

We were served a trio  of retro sweets! There was Whiskey gummy sweets which had a really strong whiskey flavour. They melted in the mouth and the warmness of the whiskey was delightful. I am not a huge fan of liquorice but I ate it anyway. The star of this plate was the homemade lemon sherbert. The sweet icing sugar and bicarb foamed in your mouth with an intense lemon flavour which I assume was citric acid of some sort. There were stray bits of lemon rid in which added to the perfumed powder.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this experience with En Place and I would definitely recommend it to others. The customer service is excellent and the food was excellent. I will definitely be looking for a future visit! 
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