Rosanna Rothery discovers an unassuming restaurant crafting astonishingly impressive tasting menus
Whether it’s to mark an engagement, observe an anniversary or just to rejoice in your hamster reaching the ripe old age of two (it really doesn’t matter how flimsy the excuse is), a celebratory meal at Restaurant Roots in Bournemouth is a must-do.
Chefs Jan and Stacey Bretshneider’s Discovery Menu (11 artful and delicate courses) would turn even the most tenuous special occasion into an unforgettable feast.
VISIT to journey into a culinary landscape where contrasting textures and flavours – including savoury and sweet – are paired with delicious aplomb. A typical example was a celeriac broth pimped with a quenelle of winter truffle ice cream above sliced grapes, toasted hazelnuts, thinly sliced celeriac and parsley cress, the whole gorgeous thing topped with a fine shaving of Perigord black truffle.
It may be trendy to worship at the altar of simplicity and honour chefs who let ingredients speak for themselves, but nobody can argue with the wow-factor of layered dishes where smoked herring roe, and potato and mustard foam sit on potato and leek ragout with a poached quail egg. This kind of clever complicated cooking just can’t be replicated at home.
Venturesome vegetarians will be left swooning, too, at the glamorous 11 course plant-based menu. Expect dishes such as finely sliced kohlrabi rolled into a rosette and browned in Marmite butter, and served with kohlrabi cooked three ways: fermented, made into a dashi and roasted in a Marmite puree. A parsnip tarte tatin was equally divine and served as small discs of parsnip in thyme caramel, topped with onions and puff pastry with shavings of Ford Farm’s cave-aged goat’s cheese.
DON’T VISIT with anyone you couldn’t tolerate chatting to for several hours; an 11 course meal takes a while to eat. However, if long and leisurely dining isn’t possible, there’s also the option of the shorter seven course Classic Menu.
WE LIKED the frisson of surprise that accompanies each course. Pastry chef Stacey billed her pudding as ‘seville orange, pumpkin, bitter chocolate’ but it arrived as an egg-shaped curiosity. Cracking into the ovum of orange chocolate served with butternut squash ice cream revealed an exquisitely light mousse surrounding a tangy yolk-coloured reduction of seville orange and clementine juice.
We also appreciated having each course matched with wine (poured with extrovert banter by front of house manager Geza Mecsekfalvy) and, in the case of the rye bread, a Somerset pale ale.
A cheeseboard featuring the likes of Tunworth soft (truffled in-house using Perigord truffle) wasn’t half bad either.