17th May 2015 – 12.30pm
Purslane is situated in a little basement abode on St Stephen Street in Stockbridge and seats less than 20, which gives an intimate vibe to the place. The restaurant is decorated with quiet tones of mushroom and dark wood but somehow the place doesn’t feel dark. Although we had visited before, this was before the blog existed so we took advantage of a voucher deal to try the place again. We had got a five course tasting menu for lunch for £39 for the two of us, which was incredibly good value but the standard seven course tasting menu is also excellent value for money. On arrival we were given the menu so we could see what was in store. We ordered some drinks (no cocktails this time) and whilst we were waiting for the tasting courses to commence, were brought some warm bread rolls. These were nice and tasty but the accompanying butter seemed to be unsalted, which was a bit of a shame. However, this was the only blip in what ended up being an exquisite meal.
The first course was an amuse bouche of butternut squash veloute and arrived in a cute little cup. I love veloutes and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. My friend commented that she could have eaten a massive bowlful of it with some bread. I have to say that I couldn’t have agreed more. It was light, smooth and delicate, yet at the same time has a smoky robustness of flavour. I was trying to drink it slowly to make it last as long as possible.
The next course was sea bream, parmesan polenta and sun-dried tomato arancini. I had arancini here before and fell in love with them. Again, they were still of an excellent standard. They were creamy in texture and packed with a great depth of tomato-y goodness. The sea bream itself was beautifully cooked, with a salty skin which was deliciously crispy. I could have easily eaten a bigger portion (yes, I know it was a starter but I liked it!). The polenta, on first glance, looked like a slice of butter but was a delightful contrast to the fish. The accompanying pea and tomato salad gave the dish an air of freshness and balance.
Onto the main and we had roast rump of beef. The five course menu usually has pork but today it was beef and it was like a posh mini roast. The meat was quite pink, which was just to my liking but may not be to everyone’s taste. The flavour was excellent. We perhaps could have done with steak knives as it was a rump cut but we soldiered on. The celeriac and potato stack creamy and the kale was er, like kale. However, the star of the plate, apart from the meat, was the combination of mushrooms which has been softly cooked and the sweet onions. The juiciness of these onions was wonderful and was almost like an onion marmalade. The red wine jus brought the dish together well.
Now, this restaurant does a ‘pre-dessert’. This is my kind of place! It’s essentially another dessert which almost acts like a palate cleanser. It was a raspberry sorbet with a chocolate mousse. As expected, the raspberry worked well with the chocolate, with the zing of the raspberry making sure that the mousse wasn’t the overpowering flavour of the dish.The coulis dotted about the dish was sweet and emphasised the raspberry flavour even more.
The actual dessert came in the form of ‘rhubarb and custard’. Obviously this wasn’t going to be quite as straight forward as described. It was absolutely delicious and we agreed that it was the best course. There was rhubarb ice cream, which was creamy and, amazingly, had not lost any of the true rhubarb flavour. There were also lots of small pieces of rhubarb which still had a bit of bite. Alongside that was a stack of vanilla panacotta and rhubarb jelly and a piece of crème brulee to add the custard element. The brulee was also packed with the sweetness of vanilla. This was a perfect finish to the meal.
Purslane is a lovely little restaurant, great for an intimate dinner but simply great to eat at…full stop.
Food – 9/10
Service – 9/10
Atmosphere – 8/10
Value – 9/10
Overall – 35/40
Cost – £52 for two five course menus, a glass of wine and a vodka and lemonade (voucher for the food was £39).