Review: How All Saints Hotel's The View restaurant is putting great food at the top of their menu with chefs James Carn and David Coyne
Few things get people as animated as food - it's primeval and classless at the same time. We know what we like and we know how to show it.
And few things inspire conversation the same as great food, prepared superbly and delivered with aplomb.
Donald Trump, Brexit, beggars, drug-taking, holidays, baggage allowances, guilty Christmas pleasures - you name it, we nailed it in a lovely evening at The View at Fornham's All Saints Hotel.
It was tagged An Evening with David Coyne and James Carn - a special showcase for their many and varied talents from pastry to sourdough, fish to pork. And what a showcase.
All Saints Hotel is an exciting place to visit right now. The owners - who also have Hengrave Hall in their portfolio - have brought in the two former Angel Hotel chefs to increase footfall and visibility. Judging by the impressive turnout for this gala evening, the blend of having Suffolk's former Chef of the Year in Mr Carn allied to the undoubted expertise and experience of Mr Coyne is working a treat.
And treat is an apt word to use for the food.
The View has been improved in recent weeks - the open kitchen has been replaced and extended with a shiny new version but the ultimate appeal of the place is the combination of positioning and food. You look out over a stunning Suffolk vista with a gorgeous plate of food and it's quite dreamy, if truth be told.
We began with Pomegranate and Lime and Molasses Sourdough, coupled with parmesan cream and cultured butter. The waft of flavours from the warm bread was a scene-setter for the accompanying Crispy Orford Oyster. The pairing worked to great effect and helped the flavours of the oyster shine.
Ed Keith's impressive drinks knowledge was put to good use on the night - each course coming with drink to accentuate flavours and the Heart of Suffolk Distillery's Rosie's Gin cocktail set this off superbly well.
Gin Cured Chalk Stream Sea Trout followed, with a very tasty seaweed salad cream. The trout melted in the mouth and was a taste sensation.
The star of the show for our table was the Beetroot Agnolotti with goat's curd and maple roasted almonds. The pasta was velvet-like in texture, the filling was a fusion of taste which hit you like an express train while the smooth sauce was just a little too moreish. If there had been a 'Buy me' stall, we would have been taking home enough to keep us going into the New Year, it was that good.
Suckling Pork Belly was next up and was a salty success for me. I always feel guilty about putting salt on my plate so this was a treat - rich, flavoursome and moist. It was accompanied with kohlrabi leaves, poached quince, Jerusalem artichoke and truffle and I was blown away with the combination of ideas and delivery.
Yuzu and White Chocolate Mille Feuille then demanded our attention. And it got it. This dessert was a feast for both the eyes and the palate. White chocolate can often be a deal-breaker but this came so light and the pastry broke so easily that I feared it would float away. Quite a success.
James Carn took centre stage for the denouement - All Saints Apple Tarte Tatin. It came with a slither of ice cream, which set off the delicious mix of apple and tart base and cut through the sweetness.
The perfect pairings on the night shone through - not just the food and drink but the two chefs working together so superbly and the great company and great food. It's what going out for a meal is all about and you should really sample what these two immense talents have to offer.
All Saints Hotel's sister venue, Hengrave Hall, is hosting a Christmas Gala Dinner on December 11 in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance. It will feature a five-course tasting menu from James Carn and wine flight by Ed Keith. Details via http://www.hengravehall.com/