I like to think that while dining out regularly in all kinds of venues has widened my appreciation of different foods, there are a couple of things I still tend to steer clear of; I include salmon and liver in that small and exclusive group.
So why, you might ask, did my menu choices at The Chubby Castor include a salmon starter and liver main? Simple. If I am dining in an independent within the fine dining bracket I am willing to put my trust in the chef. In this case it is a chef (Adebola Adeshina) whose food I have tasted previously and who comes with an impressive CV - having worked under Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing and at restaurants littered with Michelin, AA and Good Food Guide recommendations. It is an approach that has worked well in the past.
The Chubby Castor only opened last month in the former Fitzwilliam Arms, a picture postcard thatched, listed building in Castor.
It has had quite a refurbishment (it had stood empty for four years) but it retains elements reflecting its origins - wooden panelling and beamed ceilings - , while being brought right up to date with contemporary fixtures and fittings. The seating is extremely comfortable and the cutlery and crockery have class stamped all over them.
There is a formality to it, of course, and the staff are courteous and helpful, but the laidback background music, and the chatter of other diners ensured there was no stuffiness.
So, to the food. The a la carte doesn’t come cheap, which might put some people off, but the set lunch and dinner menus make it far more accessible.
At lunch, there were three options in the starter, mains and desserts categories, with two courses costing £20, and three £28.
We tucked into complimentary bread (the brioche was fantatstic) and a tuna tartare canape. Very nice
As I have already mentioned, I started with salmon - a salmon scotch egg with a chorizo and red pepper sauce. The crumb was golden and crisp, the salmon filling subtle and the egg at the centre of it all passed the runny yolk test. The sauce was smooth and tasty with the smoky, slightly spicy chorizo evident.
Donna, meanwhile had a soft, light horseradish soufflé, with a Stilton Blue and beetroot salad . Plenty of flavour without being overpowering. She followed with a beautifully tender, melt in the mouth fillet of sea bream, with sauteed potatoes, braised lettuce, and shiitake mushrooms with a foamy fennel sauce.
In a word, a winner.
My milk-fed grilled calves liver was nicely seared on the outside with a pink slither in the middle and that unmistakeable, taste and texture, proving that when cooked properly this is a joy for the tastebuds. It was topped with a couple of slices of streaky bacon, a moreish creamy mash and a bed of fried onions. A great combination.
Super food, in terms of taste and presentation, and a nice ambience in a great setting made this a lunch to savour in a welcome addition to the fine dining scene locally.
Brad Barnes dines at The Chubby Castor of The Fitzwilliam Arms, Peterborough Road, Castor, tel 01733 380801 www.thechubbycastor.com
Brad’s rating: 10