A Punter’s View of The Burlington Restaurant at The Devonshire Arms, by Dave Mackay.
We stayed at The Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa, on the Bolton Abbey Estate, in order to try out the 3 AA rosette Burlington Restaurant which was taken over by chef Chris O’Callaghan last year.
He learned his trade at Gravetye Manor, in Sussex, and a pedigree like that certainly whetted the appetite for a six-course taster menu which was a reasonably priced at £75pp, with a similarly reasonable £65 for the drinks pairing.
I went for the omnivore version and Mrs Punter, as ever, went for the vegetarian option with the added restriction of no olives, for they be the food of the devil, I am told. What was nice is that on various courses diners are given options, so for the main there was a choice of halibut or mutton.
A trio of amuse bouche featured a macaron sandwich, a crispy cheese filled pillow and a small feuille de brick canister of smoked haddock which elicited a little “nom” from me. That was followed by ‘carrots three ways’ which really needed all three ways to be eaten together for balance. That was followed by trout or goats cheese. Mrs Punter enjoyed her goat’s cheese and my trout thought it was a carrot because it too had been done a few different ways, one of which was encased in a gel and was utterly delicious.
Next was a beef (or beetroot) tartare and my instant reaction was not good. That’s because, perhaps, I’m a philistine, I just don’t get it. Now I do. It was excellent and I just couldn’t shovel it into my face quickly enough; easily the best tartare I have ever had. Oh, and it had moss on it. Yes, moss. Ordinarily I hate moss, but that’s when it’s murdering my lawn, but on these dishes it was excellent. I now get hungry looking at my garden.
Now then, the main course or “the main event”, the one all the contestants on Great British Menu want to win. Well in this case it was just champion. Both Mrs Punter and I agree that our mains were our standout dishes. Mrs Punter had BBQ swede with puffed rice, katsu and pickled ginger. I had mutton (or as I call it, “retired sheep”) with turnip, salsa verde and an inspired addition of anchovies. Most of the noises emanating from Mrs Punter and I were best described as “primeval”. Both dishes looked and tasted fantastic and I am sure that George Blogg (head chef at Gravetye) would have given it his blessing.
Both menus then treated us to a small rhubarb and custard tart before we diverged again for the dessert. Blackberry and apple mille feuille for me and a parsnip and BBQ pineapple cake. Both accompanied by an excellent dessert wine. A word about the drinks pairing too, it was generous and well thought out. Each wine worked excellently with each dish and was well explained by our sommelier. Finally, the cheese board, which was mostly from the ever reliable Courtyard Dairy (an award-winning dairy in Settle, North Yorkshire) but there was a lovely truffle gel and the crackers were crunchy and delicious. You could have put them in a bag and I would have eaten them like crisps.
After that it was back to the cocktail lounge for the mandatory post-dinner refreshments or, as we call it, “more drinking”. We retired to bed having been well fed, well-watered and well attended upon. Bit hung over the next morning mind but, genuinely, well worth it.