11th January 2017 6pm
Gin 71 opened up in 2016 as the night time venue for CupTea. Obviously, the name indicates that gin is the theme. The gin menu comes in the form of a booklet with all different types of gins and a whole host of mixers and garnishes. There is also an extensive cocktail menu which we decided to take advantage of as we were here for a friend’s birthday. The food menu is short but has enough variety, with gin involved in many of the dishes. It also has an early diner offer of two courses for £20 and three courses for £25 (with a couple of supplements for the venison dishes and the cheese board). The menu also indicates that they try to source as many products locally. I picked the venison tartare to start with ‘A Garden Treat’ (gnocchi) for my main. My friend opted for ‘Boozy Pig’ (pork belly and pigs cheek) to start, followed by ‘Well to Old School’ (smoked rump of beef). I was notified shortly after that the gnocchi wasn’t available and was offered a tart as an alternative but I decided to have the rump instead. This was a bit of a shame considering the menu is so short and we weren’t told of this situation before ordering.
After waiting a little while, we were given a plate of gin based breads and a Jerusalem artichoke veloute. I love veloute and wasn’t disappointed by this one. Full of flavour and creamily smooth, it went down a treat. The breads were a little hard to cut into but were actually warm and well baked. The flavours certainly reminded me of various infused gins.
Again, a while later we finally got our starters (probably about 45 minutes after we were seated). These were both visually appealing. My tartare was a generous size and full of flavour. The egg oozed into the meat and the capers added some zing. There was a harissa dressing on the plate to add a kick and some chanterelle mushrooms, which was the only let down of the plate as the vinegar on them was so strong that I choked (and I adore vinegar and pickled food so it took a lot of vinegar to create that reaction). Ignoring this, it was an excellent dish. On the other side of the table, the Boozy Pig was being enjoyed. The pork belly was tasty and the crackling crisp. The cheek was full of flavour. The purée was the only thing that she really felt was perhaps not needed.
Onto the mains, we were both having the rump. We were not asked how we wanted it cooked and it came rare. This was perfect for me but for those who don’t like their meat very pink, you might struggle. My friend coped well considering she usually only goes medium rare at best. The meat itself was lovely. The smoky outside was strong but balanced by the soft inside. The crepe was an element which surprisingly worked with the other flavours on the plate. The pate was a small slice but was perfectly balanced for the dish and had a wonderful depth. All in all, a successful dish.
Although we were quite full, we had to have dessert as there were some lovely options. I went for the ‘Sticky Trio’ which incorporated a vanilla soufflé, butterscotch mousse and toffee ice cream. This was one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time. The soufflé was incredibly light and fluffy and had a fantastic rise on it. The mousse was also light and the butterscotch flavour was spot on. The toffee ice cream complemented the other two elements perfectly. A phenomenal dish. On the other side of the table the birthday girl was tucking into ‘Marmalade and Toast’ which incorporated an orange gel, coffee parfait, candied orange, toast espuma and an orange and toast crunch. This was also loved. With the dish being full of great flavours, invoking the tastes intended by the name of the dish.
All of the food we had packed in so much flavour and was so very impressive. Sadly it took so long to get the food out of the kitchen (on a not very busy evening), that we were there over two hours, so not somewhere to go if you need to be elsewhere in a hurry. However, it will be worth it for the food and drink and the friendly waiting staff. Just a few tweaks and this place could really be something special.
Food – 9.5/10
Service – 7/10 amended 1/7/17 to 9/10
Value – 10/10
Overall – 34/40 amended 1/7/17 to 36/40
Would I eat here again? Definitely, as long as I wasn’t in a hurry – edit 1/7/17 – revisited Gin 71 and the food was still excellent and the service much improved, so felt it was appropriate to revise the scoring.
Cost £77 for two sets of three courses plus three cocktails.