15th May 2015 – 6pm
Cocktails – Aizle
Aizle (#aizlerhymeswithhazel) is hidden away a little on St Leonard’s Street. That didn’t stop it from doing a bustling trade on a Friday night. Aizle’s unique selling point is that it creates its set tasting menu from a monthly ‘harvest’ using seasonal produce. They will happily cater for allergies and dietary requirements and they do check this both at booking and on the night. The venue itself is relaxed, decorated in washed out hues that I find soothing and has music playing unobtrusively in the background.
As you will have come to expect, we ordered cocktails. I went for the La Mora, which was a tequila and blackberry combination. It was a little more bitter than my usual choices but it was still nice and I didn’t have a problem finishing it! My dining partner went for Hard-knock life, which was a calvados and Cointreau amalgamation. It was served in a dainty glass and was a sweeter option. Whilst we were sipping we were served some seaweed bread with some butter and what I think I was told was labneh, which is a yoghurt cheese spread type thing. The bread was warm and had depth of flavour which was comforting. The labneh was sour but somehow worked well with the bread, giving it a different dimension.
Quail’s egg and spring ragout (top), crackers and chicken (bottom) – Aizle
After this we had our first course, which was called a ‘snack’. This was perhaps the most playfully plated dish of the evening. Firstly, there was a spring ragout and quail egg mixture topped with a lemon sabayon, all placed into an egg shell. To be honest, this would have been just as delicious without the quail’s egg as the sabayon on top was just divine and the ragout was punchy and fresh. The two other snacks on the plate were a type of cracker with scallop roe and a piece of fried chicken with kimchi. The cracker was great as it wasn’t too hard that it snapped when you bit into it but also not too soft that it bent instead. The flavour was delicious and the toppings seemed to melt in the mouth. The chicken was very tasty. The kimchi added a layer that was surprisingly good.
Watermelon tartare – Aizle
Onto the next course, which was watermelon tartare. The plate seemed to come alive with vibrant colour. This was my favourite course of the evening (which is saying something when it had my nemesis – cucumber – in it). The amount of flavour the watermelon had was startling and was allowed to shine against flavours which could have fought with it but subtly emphasised it’s freshness further. The oil and the sprinkling of feta gave the dish a nice savoury note. The added bonus was that it was so light, so I still had plenty of room for the following courses.
Skate – Aizle
The next course was skate with mussels and capers. The portion of fish was generous and set beautifully on the plate. I’d not had skate before but I will be having it again. It was moist and flaked gently. The fish was complemented by the mussels, which were juicy, and the zingy strength of the capers. Another favourite of mine, samphire, was sparsely scattered across the plate too, which brought another sea salt flavour through the dish.
Chicken – Aizle
Up next was the sous vide chicken with onions, mushrooms and a sweet potato puree. I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the chicken as I was expecting it to be a little more moist, particularly as it was sous vide. It didn’t take away from the flavour though, which was good. The sweet potato was silky smooth though, with not a lump in sight. The mustard seeds brought some extra depth which brought the dish together. The onions has been meticulously peeled to make them look like petals on the plate, which was a lovely visual effect.
Strawberry dessert – Aizle
We decided not to go for the optional cheese course as we did not want to struggle with dessert. This was a bit of a shame was the cheese course sounded wonderful but ultimately it was the right call. The dessert was an assortment of all things strawberry, with some accompanying caramelised white chocolate coated in a strawberry jelly. This was a fun and decent-sized dessert, showing off different textures beautifully. You could smell the strawberry emanating from the plate. The fresh strawberries had a lovely sweetness. The strawberry foamy mousse was fluffy and light. The shards has a concentrated impact but the best bit was the strawberry ice cream which was almost sorbet like in its lightness and filled my mouth with such a delightful taste.
Menus – Aizle
The meal was thoroughly enjoyable and it was fun not knowing what dishes you were going to get, apart from the list of ingredients up on the blackboard (unless you look at the menu in the window!). The staff were knowledgeable, friendly and not intrusive. I will be keeping an eye on the ingredients on each month’s harvest as I am sure I will be back for another visit….and another.
Food – 8.5/10
Service – 10/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value – 9/10
Cost – £109 for the five course set menu for two, two cocktails and 1 glass of wine.