Seven courses of Lavender House revival

PUBLISHED: 14:47 11 September 2020

White onion tart with Baron Bigod ice cream. Photo: Steve Adams

White onion tart with Baron Bigod ice cream. Photo: Steve Adams

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Chef Richard Hughes has revived his old Lavender House menu - what does it taste like?

Strawberries with a basil granite and lavender crumble. Photo: Steve AdamsStrawberries with a basil granite and lavender crumble. Photo: Steve Adams

The Lavender House in Brundall was, by all accounts, a very popular restaurant when chef Richard Hughes plied his trade there.

Now, of course, Richard is doing his thing at the Assembly House in Norwich, but the Lavender House name has been revived, for a while at least, with a series of Friday evening dinners.

It’s not often, in my experience anyway, that you can look at all seven courses of a tasting menu and go ‘ooooh!’ at each and every one; but so it was with the offering from a few weeks ago*. And having gone ‘ooooh!’ it would have been a lost opportunity not to see if it lived up to the expectation, wouldn’t it?

Space forbids a forensic dissection of all seven courses but the headlines are good.

Cromer crab with a brown crab meat toast. Photo: Steve AdamsCromer crab with a brown crab meat toast. Photo: Steve Adams

Having got off the mark with a zingy-fresh gazpacho and canapes we moved on to a Parmesan custard, super-smooth and punchy with a crunchy little pistachio shortbread. Then came a warm white onion tart, paper-thin pastry and topped with a rich quenelle of Baron Bigod ice cream. No spoilers, but it ended up being Mrs C’s favourite course.

Cromer crab is a delicious thing, but a big old shell full of it doesn’t always look the most elegant; however, the AH version with a chilled crab bisque and brown meat on toast was both pretty on the eye and the palate.

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For the ‘big’ plate Mrc C and I parted company, gastronomically speaking. She took the meat-free route of sage roasted celeriac, wild mushroom ragout, smoked potato, roasted shallot, braised lentils, spinach with Bearnaise. It was delightful, she averred.

I made up for it with the meat-plus plate; fillet and a beef cheek, the latter lovingly slow-cooked to meltingly good perfection. For me it outshone the fillet. The smoked potato brought a gorgeously autumnal flavour to the party as well.

But we were still, just, in summer and so dessert number one, poached English strawberries, elderflower, basil granita, with a lavender (what else?) shortbread crumble was delicate and fresh. Dessert two was perhaps the broadsword to the rapier; a wallop of chocolate, peanut and caramel in a deconstructed iced Snickers bar. The lovely little cinnamon donuts were almost the final straw but we somehow squeezed them in. The hand-made chocolates had to come home with us in a box for consumption later.

If you have lavender-tinted memories you’ll love it. But even if you didn’t visit the Lavender House this is a treat; and at £50 per head (add £24 for a wine flight) pretty good value too.

*The menus are changing monthly.

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