The following is a guest post reviewed by one of my dining companions-
Tasting Menu at The Sportsman, Seasalter.
On arrival, we were greeted by the sight of a very unassuming slightly weather worn, white painted pub, hmm, methinks this could be interesting.
The relaxed friendliness and warmth of our greeting was the first sign of the good things to come, as were the amuse-bouches, which titillated our taste buds with tomato cheesiness and apply sweetness married to home pickled herring, yum.
The artisanal breads and home made butter with local Seasalter salt were just a revelation, and for one who normally eschews the delights of eating too much bread due to it’s usual appalling quality and awful taste, the Foccacia and Soda bread with the homemade pork scratchings and aforementioned butter were simply divine!
Though being of the sensible persuasion, I decided to partake of these delights only sparingly, we were here for the tasting menu after all and I could see that we had at least another seven courses to go, it just wouldn’t do to gorge oneself lest one becomes a gros gourmand and eschews the delights in favour of gluttony.
Ha! Oysters with a pink grapefruit granita were simply beautiful and simply overshadowed the oysters that followed even though they were delicately enrobed with a beautifully executed sauce.
The chilled courgette soup was quite delectable, but alas I would have preferred less of the milk foam atop the soup, very light, palate cleansing and delicious nonetheless, I was by now beginning to really look forward to the rest of the taster menu with some excitement and anticipation…
By now our little party had came to a clear understanding of why the Sportsman had insisted that we arrive at 12 midday, rather than our preferred 1pm for the tasting menu, we were in for a relaxing yet intriguing and at times sublime journey through the culinary skills of the chef patron.
The Crab, Carrot and Hollandaise was simply sublime in it’s simplicity, yet absolutely scrummy and totally moreish, the understated title did it’s best to disguise a truly delectable dish of sweet local crab with beautifully flavourful carrot julienne all topped of with a perfect hollandaise, this truly was a dish that was simplicity itself in it’s elegance and honesty, the sign of a chef who really knows his ingredients and is well able to maximise their delights.
On again, my dear friends to the house signature dish of slip sole in seaweed butter, the sole was just superb, sweet and succulent leaving one wanting more, the sign of a truly well conceived signature dish, this dish alone is worth the trip to The Sportsman!
What more can I say, I just loved the superbly executed, brilliantly conceived simplicity of this dish and I was in hog heaven and judging from the appreciative sounds emanating from my dining companions they also thought the dish worthy of the being the signature dish.
Then along came the Turbot braised in vin jaune with smoked pork, this was beautifully flavoursome, the turbot sang through, my only negative and I really am nit picking here was that...
I would have liked much thinner/finer green beans and those served, were for me a tad underdone as they still had that slightly steely rawness to them, otherwise a wonderful dish.
(Freebie of lamb schnitzel slices.)
Now to the meat, roast Monkshill Farm lamb, this was very, very nice, not quite exceptional but getting there.
The lamb was, for me ever so slightly underdone as I personally prefer my lamb cooked until slightly pink rather than very pink and one of my fellow diners and I both felt that this was perhaps approaching Hogget rather than lamb. Though it was very flavourful and quite satisfying, just not as sublime and delectable as the fish courses!
Our wonderful waitress, told us that we would have two dessert courses and when I saw the first of Blackberry ice-lolly with creamy/milky cake crumbs, my initial thought was Yuk! A kiddie dessert! But how wrong can you be! The Blackberry ice-lolly was just simply divine, far too grown up for kiddies! And dunking it into the creamy, milky cake crumb mixture was just so much fun and tasted glorious! These were the rose tinted idyllic memories of a long lost childhood brought back through simple brilliant cooking, congratulations to The Sportsman, this one really hit the spot both epicurially and emotionally!
Then came the adult desserts!
A strawberry sandwich no less, two slices of artisanal brioche caramelised on one side till crispy and slightly caramel bitter filled with a vanilla crème Chantilly and nice ripe strawberries, one of my dining companions did struggle to finish this, but I very bravely persevered and scoffed the lot! Yum Yum!
At this point I thought we had done exceedingly well by managing to consume with gusto and delight all the courses offered on the Tasting Menu, but then a further little ‘trio of desserts’ was proffered, and we really just couldn’t refuse, could we?
The chocolate mousse with salted caramel was unctuous and gloriously rich, it was however for me the one dish too far! Despite my best intentions, I had transmogrified from a happy Taster and Diner into a Gros Gourmand!
Ah well, the best of intentions and all that…..
My sincerest thanks go to my two dining companions for their generosity and conviviality. We all had a good time and the 4 hours spent enjoying the Tasting Menu simply flew by!
The Sportsman is truly worth a visit, you won’t be disappointed with the sublime flavours and the unfussy, and simple yet masterful execution of the cooking totally belies the surroundings.
Kent CT5 4BP