Damson – Tasting Menu

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Damson, Heaton Moor

17/07/15

We don’t generally review restaurants more than once and I’m more than aware that we have already waxed lyrical about Heaton Moor’s Damson a couple of times, but here’s the situation. We had something special to celebrate and it came to our attention that the restaurant now offered a six course tasting menu at £49.50 per head, served with matching wines for an extra £25. Now, I’ll grant you, this is probably not the kind off money you’d be looking to spend in an ordinary week, but for a special occasion, it’s something you might seriously consider trying. And let me ask you this. How can I not write about the best meal I have ever eaten? Seriously, it was that good. Please bear in mind, that though what I am about to describe may sound like a mountain of food, the portions are skilfully sized to ensure you can enjoy it all without feeling over faced – and the staff here are attentive, and will always accommodate you if you should ask for a short pause between courses.

We began with a tasting of seasonal soup, in this case, potato and fennel. Served in a cup, it was light, creamy and utterly delicious, just enough to whet the appetite and get those taste buds tingling for the delights to come. The soup was matched with a glass of citrusy Pino Grigiot. A very good start.

Next came grilled scallops, with compte cheese and cauliflower croquettes, accompanied by wild garlic, hazelnuts and truffle. Perfectly pitched and as light as air, this came with a glass of Circumstance Rosé, the slightly acidy tang of the wine a perfect companion for the moist and delicious scallop.

The third course was grilled fillet of plaice, served with Jersey royals, sprouting broccoli, sea aster, cockles, mussels and wild garlic pesto. If I had to choose a favourite dish from the selection, this might just take the edge. The plaice was melt-in-the mouth tender and delicately showcased by its delightful companions. The accompanying wine here was Picpoul de Pinet, a fruity zesty white. Sipped at beforehand it was okay, but tasted with the fish, it became exquisite and served as a perfect example of how intelligent wine-matching works.

Now for another standout: roasted rump of lamb with pea and mint mousseline, english asparagus, baby gem, whole grain mustard, morel mushrooms and salt and pepper sweetbreads. In a word, wow! The lamb was so tender and immersed in the mousseline, it tasted like heaven on a plate. Here, the chosen wine was a rich, robust red, Andes Peak Carmenere. Actually, on reflection, this course is neck-and-neck with the previous one as my favourite.

Time for a dessert? Oh yes, especially when it’s a chocolate cremeux with passion fruit and praline ice cream. Sometimes words fail to adequately describe just how delicious a sweet can be and this, I’m afraid, is one of those occasions. Suffice to say that the cremaux was… mmmmm. And the ice cream… aaah!

And so finally to cheese – or more accurately a generous tasting of three English and three French cheeses, served on a board and accompanied by bread, crackers, red grapes and a couple of sticks of celery. Even we struggled to finish this off completely but we were left comfortably full and ever so slightly sozzled, which is of course, the object of the exercise.

Make no mistake. This is a tasting menu to challenge the biggest names in the business and I can’t imagine how it might have been bettered. It’s customary in these reviews to focus on the meals shortcomings, but… try as I might, I couldn’t find one. I should perhaps point out that vegetarians needn’t feel left out of the game as a meat-free version is also available.

So, all of you out there who appreciate fine dining… the next time you have something special to celebrate, you know exactly where to go.

5 stars

Philip Caveney

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