I was recently invited to ‘Restaurant Mark Greenaway’ for the opening of The Balvenie Room. This is an intimate private dining room which can accommodate up to 16 diners. The room has many traditional features such as exposed stone wall and the buildings original stone stove. By using Balvenie whisky bottles as the main feature the room is given a modern feel. Subtle lighting is used which adds to the intimacy.
In the Balvenie room diners can have a tailored menu selected and made by Mark Greenaway or opt for the tasting menu. For this occasion Mark created an ‘Early Burns Supper’ menu. However as he introduced himself, and the room, he also explained it would not be an ordinary Burns Supper. Instead, the chefs tasting menu showcased some of Scotland’s best produce with many twists.
To start, our amuse bouche of haggis neeps and tatties was a rich and creamy veloute which tasted of the traditional dish.
Haggis Neeps & Tatties
The first starter was ‘Loch Fyne Crab Cannelloni’. This was not only presented in an interesting way but was also intriguing to eat as you could vary it in many ways. The dish had two parts; the top part was the crab cannelloni wrapped in a herb butter which was light and fresh. The bottom part was a layer of smoked cauliflower custard which acted as a sauce with the oak smoke bringing theatre to the dish. Lemon pearls gave a fresh and zingy element.
Loch Fyne Crab Cannelloni
‘Confit Chicken and Potato Pressé’ was to follow. This again was a very pretty plate of food. The chicken was so succulent and melted in your mouth. The bread tuille was crunchy and filled with creamy smooth foie gras. The beetroot puree balanced the dish to perfection and pickled damsons added a sharpness to cut through the varied flavours.
Confit Chicken and Potato Pressé
We were next given a bowl with Confit Chicken, Rice, Pine Oil and Baby Leek. The waiting staff then brought ‘Napier coffee makers’ which were filled with broth and placed on the table. The broth rose to the top cylinder which was filled with herbs before being filtered to the bottom again. We all watched in amazement. This was then poured over the components of the dish which, all together, was a delight to eat. This was a great dish for entertaining and was a complete contrast to any Cock-a-Leekie soup i have ever had.
The fish course was ‘Scottish Hake Fillet’. This was my favourite dish of the evening. The hake fell apart and the skin was crispy and salty. The fish was served with lobster tortellini, fennel and dill purée, purple mash, butternut squash, radish, ginger and a spring onion broth. This sounds like too many ingredients but they all played a part in the dish and came together with the broth making a truly fabulous fish course.
Scottish Hake Fillet
For the main course we were served ‘Roasted Duck Breast’. The duck was cooked to perfection, pink but rested well with crispy skin. On the other side of the plate a miniature open duck pie topped with buttery pomme puree. This was a great way to showcase the other parts of the duck. The parsnip orange puree and the tarragon jus brought all the elements together.
Roasted Duck Breast
Unfortunately I had to leave before the desserts. However I have heard I would not have been disappointed. Throughout the meal the sommelier gave us a variety of wines to match the dishes. They all matched perfectly and were explained with passion. The waiting staff were attentive and friendly.
I can honestly say that I was very impressed with the whole evening. The hospitality, food and the surroundings were exceptional. The Balvenie room is a great addition to Restaurant Mark Greenaway which I am sure many will enjoy.