Tuesday 4 June 2013

Fraiche, Oxton

A visit to Fraiche always has me super excited. Since a really enjoyable Sunday lunch and all round experience from our last visit in September I looked forward to returning again. Alas this time was extra special as I had booked it for Mr Nom’s birthday albeit a weekend too late. Damn the three month advance booking system or probably more my general slowness when it comes to planning in advance. We were informed that some customers wait til midnight on the last day of every month in anticipation of the release of the next reservation slots.
I was pleased with the menu when it arrived; I was especially looking forward to the first course of pork belly as I am generally drawn towards pork belly when it is on any menu. We perused the wine list along with the first snack of spiced pecan nuts and soon our amuse bouche was conjured up in front of us. Liquid nitrogen was used to prepare our cucumber and lime granite on a pineapple and mint salad. It was presented in a simple little white cup and saucers. I remember during my last visit I had a cucumber palette cleanser so this one was nothing too special. In fact I preferred the cucumber palette cleanser at the last visit as this one didn’t taste as pleasant during the first few mouthfuls. Towards the bottom of the amuse bouche I could taste the pineapple which introduced some pleasant sweetness against the strength of the cucumber which I guess is the result the chef wanted to achieve since cucumber is a delicate yet fresh flavour. The mint was a nice touch in the amuse bouche, quite subtle and not too overpowering.

Our first set of freshly baked bread arrived next, white, granary, treacle and cheese with a salted goats milk butter and a unsalted butter. The bread was warm so the butter melted straightaway which I adore. Before we knew it the pork belly course was ready.  It was presented in an appetising arrangement with the sauce in swirls around the main feature. The pork belly was cooked absolutely spot on and just melted in the mouth, it was slightly fatty but that’s the addition with pork belly, a pure delight. We commented that we thought it was cooked in a water bath to keep the meat extremely moist.  The apple and vanilla sauce complimented the pork belly. On top of the pork belly were deep fried octopus and pork scratching which added some crunch to the dish.

The second set of bread came next, tomato, olive, mushroom and organic oats. We had noticed the bread was cut into smaller pieces on this visit, although we did not mind and thought the servings were the right size due to the variety. The bread was one of the best and most unusual that we have tried when dining out. The next course was a fish dish, wild hake served in an earthy looking bowl, a hot dashi broth was added at the table. It was accompanied with asparagus and baby leeks and strips of fennel were arranged on the fish. The hake was a very delicate and flaky fish which I really enjoyed, the skin was slightly pan fried and the rest of the fillet was really moist. It was a really light dish which was perfect for the sunny weather.

The last savoury course was Suffolk lamb, peas and salsify. I did not have a clue what salsify was until I Googled it. Turns out it was the root vegetable with a slight oyster taste, to be honest, after tasting the ‘beetroot’ coloured stick which Mr Nom said was beetroot, I still couldn’t work out what taste it had. The lamb was full of flavour, with accompaniments of peas and baby turnips. Although pleasant, probably my least favourite dish so far given the two previous courses of pork and hake.

We were asked if we wanted to try a pre-dessert of lemongrass panna cotta with a sour cherry and crushed grape foam. We didn’t need asking twice and oh my…. It was just delightful! The lemongrass was really fragrant and the sour cherry was slight sharp yet sweet and balanced the lemongrass flavour beautifully. I could have had another one because it was probably one of the best desserts I have ever tried!

Sadly, our lunch was drawing to an end with the last dessert;  a white chocolate mousse with passion fruit meringues, dehydrated passion fruit, popping candy and chocolate soil. The dessert was not too sweet as I was worried about the white chocolate being sickly sweet but it was balanced just right with the exotic flavour of passion fruit.

All in all, I had a wonderful time at Fraiche as always and cannot wait to try the evening menu sometime, although I want to try what other delights Chef Marc has instore I wouldn’t mind the pork belly dish and lemongrass panna cotta again!  One final note, on both occasions the service was exceptional from restaurant manager James and his team.  This is serious eating within a non-snooty relaxed environment.  Looking forward to midnight on the last day of the month….

Fraiche on Urbanspoon  Square Meal

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