18th March 2015 – 6.30pm
Timberyard is situated in a large warehouse space, which used to house storage for costumes and props. The place has a massive swinging door, which gives you a sense of the airy proportions of the room you are about to experience. Whilst is it a space with high ceilings, it still feels warm and welcoming, with candles dotted about the room and dark wooden tables. This place is well aware of the size of the venue though as they even have a blanket for every table should you find that more comfortable. We certainly didn’t need it but it is a nice touch. The ethos of this restaurant is sustainability and using local produce.
Once we were seated, we started off by being given the drinks list. There is plenty on offer here, with a nice array of soft drinks, cocktails, beers, ciders and wine. We were then given two menus; one was the 7 course tasting menu (which we were advised would need up to three hours set aside to eat all the courses) or the main ‘daily’ menu. Whilst the tasting menu was very tempting, we thought it might just be too much for a week night so opted for the daily menu (which is actually date stamped). This menu is split into four categories: bites, small, large and sweet. The waiter recommended that we went for all four and that is just what we did. Before we ordered we were also asked if we had any dietary requirements, which I think is particularly useful here, as the menu lists the main ingredients in the dish rather than give you a description of the dish that will appear in front of you. I opted for duck heart, liver, mushroom, onion and mustard seed from the ‘bite’ section followed by asparagus, duck yolk, goats curd, rye, seeds, celery and cider from the ‘small’ section then onto smoked beef, cauliflower, kohlrabi, mushroom, ramson, radish and ramp from the ‘large’ options and then finally sea buckthorn, carrot, crowdie, buttermilk, biscuit and seeds from the ‘sweet’ options. My dining companion went from celeriac, crab, pear, crème fraiche, brioche and horseradish followed by the same asparagus dish and then onto the turbot, smoked mussels, fennel, wild leek, potato, dill and celery and finally the honey, bee pollen, gooseberry, almond, milk and barley (phew!).
We were topped up with water throughout the meal but whilst we were waiting for the ‘bites’ to arrive, we were given some nice bread, bone marrow, and a cheese and butter mix with a sprinkling of pepper and sea salt with parsley to put on the bread. This was a tasty interpretation of the bread and butter option. I particularly enjoyed the salt/parsley mix, which complemented the bread well.
The bites arrived and looked amazing. The duck heart had a stick through it. I did wonder whether this might put people off but then realised that if you were ordering a duck heart, you probably weren’t all that squeamish. It certainly added drama to the dish. The heart was tender and not rubbery and the liver came in the form of a pate, which had bags of flavour in such a small piece. The mushrooms had a depth I don’t think I have ever experienced. To be honest, I could have eaten several bowls of this quite easily. The celeriac, on the other side of the table, seemed to be served on a rather large plate, as is often the trend. I’m not sure if that was really necessary but the mish-mash feel of the plates and glasses made it seem ok to do so and less pretentious. The food was consumed very quickly and we had to remind ourselves to savour all the flavours.
Both of us had opted for the asparagus for the next course. We certainly weren’t disappointed. This dish was full of freshness. The egg added a creaminess that brought the dish alive. The greens on the plate had a vivid colour, showing off the benefit of locally resourced food and nurtured by an attentive chef. The curd worked well and the seeds brought a nice texture to balance out the creamy, smooth elements. Again we both could have eaten another portion of this, it was that good. I think this might have been my favourite course.
Now, onto the ‘large’ course. Both the dishes were of a decent size and a visual wonder. This place knows how to show off the variety of ingredients they are using, particularly with the less common ones. I was told in advanced that the beef is cooked on the rarer side of medium, which was perfect for me. The smoking of the beef wasn’t overkill but added dimension to the beef in a subtle way. Again, the texture and range of flavour was pretty spectacular and I had been introduced to some varieties of vegetable I wasn’t familiar with but will look for in the future. The turbot looked delicate on the plate and the foam around it which had more purpose than creating an effect. Again, my friend enjoyed every morsel on the plate and ooh-ed and aah-ed over the flavours.
Finally, the sweets. Neither of us were really sure about what we had opted for and whether we would like them. Oh how silly of us. These were just phenomenal. My sea buckthorn dish, whilst it had its sour notes, was full of different textures and flavours. The thin meringue was a delightful surprise and the sorbet was full of zing. There were creamy elements again to balance it out and seeds and biscuit to add crunch. Each mouthful brought a new surprise or flavour combination. I couldn’t find a fault with any component. Even the carrots were a pleasantly sweet addition. On the other side of the table, a delighted squeak went out when she discovered the cake bits were warm. She also enthused over the honeycomb, which she said was an excellent example and was well made. She actually isn’t really a fan of honey but found this dish to be completely satisfying.
I don’t think I can ever convey in a review just how good the food was in this restaurant. The flavours the kitchen manage to get out of this food is astounding. The service matched it in every single way. We never felt like we were being interrupted but our every need was looked after and you could see from a distance that the waiters were always doing the rounds to check that all the tables had everything they needed. I think the only thing we could complain about was that the knives could do with a sharpen. If that is seriously the only thing I can complain about, you know it must be good. Sadly this place isn’t cheap, so we cannot make a trip to it once a week but I have to say that even though it’s not in a low cost bracket, the value you get is top notch. I will be coming back again as soon as I can.
Food – 10/10
Service – 10/10
Atmosphere – 10/10
Value – 9.5/10
Overall – 39.5/40
Cost – £116 for 4 courses for two people plus one glass of wine