There is an old adage about saving the best to last - which fits in nicely with my final review of 2014: the excellent Wicked Witch at Ryhall.
Having written recently about its reopening, and knowing of the chef behind the venue, I went with high expectations on every level. And I wasn’t disappointed.
It doesn’t look anything special from the main road through the village, but inside is very well appointed.
Either side of the main entrance there are original floorboards, exposed brickwork, nice decor and contemporary furnishings. It is certainly welcoming in the bar side or the restaurant area.
Lunchtime, when we visited, has a set menu - but the offerings certainly wouldn’t look out of place on a dinner menu.
Our starters arrived and straight away it was obvious that the team in the kitchen know how to turn out a great looking plate of food.
And, for me, the first taste, was enough to suggest they not only talked the talk, but they could walk the walk.
As a rule I don’t like liver and have never ordered it in a restaurant or cooked it at home. I guess this is based on schoolday memories of a grey, rubbery piece of meat in onions and gravy,
The word venison, and the reputation of the chef Dameon Clarke, was enough to convince me to try it. And I am glad that I did.
The slices were seared both sides and left nice and red in the middle. Cutting was easy and it went down a treat - the livery taste an unexpected pleasure.
It came with two pieces of crispy breadcrumbed venison belly (which were delicious),blackberries, chestnuts and delicate truffle mushrooms.
Having been pregnant recently Donna has had to go without certain culinary treats for long time - but the sashimi tuna was worth the wait, the fish enhanced by citrus fruits -grapefruit and orange - caviar and chive.
It was another journey into the unknown with beef collar - a lesser used cut, soaked in brine and slowcooked for more than four hours. It was a big piece of meat, with a flavour all of its own. It was unbelievably tender. It came with a lovely and crispy potato croquet, leaks, tender-stem brocolli, a honey roast parsnip and caramelised spring onions with a delicious jus underpinning it all. A super combination of flavours.
Donna’s roast salmon was succulent, the peppery celeriac a perfect foil for the marvellous mussels and herby fishy cake.
I loved the zingy, citrusy clementine sorbet with my ever so rich, heavy chocolate cake while the pineapple Eton mess, another first, went down surprisingly well.
It’s fair to say this particular witch cast quite a spell over us.
Brad’s rating: 10
The Wicked Witch, Ryhall PE9 4HH 01780 763649 www.thewickedwitchexperience.co.uk
Tue-Sat: Lunch 12pm - 2.30pm, dinner 6pm - 9:30pm; Sun: Lunch Only 12pm - 2.30pm
Set lunch menu:
Hermitage tomato salad
Panfried venison liver
Chicken liver parfait
Confit duck leg
Slow cooked beef collar
Mushroom and leek risotto
Steamed treacle sponge
Pineapple Eton mess
Cheese of the day
Two courses £14.95; three courses £17.95