Best meal ever

Last night was herself’s birthday, so we went out to Jacobs Ladder for the tasting menu and to hell with the Atkins diet for the night. Oh dear sweet flying spagettimonster…

Nine courses. (We don’t drink so no wine, but frankly, it would have ruined the taste for me anyway).

It started with a porcini mushroom brulee topped with half a roasted porcini mushroom. Wonderfully savory and salty, with the sugar just perfectly setting it off.

Then there was an incredibly rich pea soup served alongside an oyster under foam. The pea soup was magnificent, rich and layered. The oyster was the first one I’ve ever tried (Herself had to tell me how to eat it) but it was also the single strangest, most potent experience I’ve ever had when eating. As I poured it into my mouth, the taste, the smell of it triggered this massive burst of memories from when I was a kid and we used to go out to Fenit, just outside Tralee, and just walk along the pier there with all the fishing boats and the smell of the atlantic. It was extremely potent. Absolutely the height of the meal.

Then there was a pan-seared scallop served with passionfruit dressing and a wonderfully crunchy mangetout salad topped with something I didn’t catch the name of, but which apparently was frozen and allowed to come back to room temperature and which had this explosion of sourness in the aftertaste.

Next came a roasted breast of quail served on a bed of lentils, a deep-fried drumstick of quail, and a quail’s egg, poached, served in a small cup with lentils in a rich savory broth that had some foie gras in it. Magnificent. The quail was rich and juicy and had a wonderfully savory, gamey flavour, the egg and the foie gras and the lentils worked together perfectly.

Then there was foie gras and duck terrine, served with an apple chutney that was laced with allspice, and a reduced-to-a-paste apricot puree, topped with a single apricot, stuffed with foie gras and then deep-fried in a tempura batter, all with a side of a toasted slice of brioche. Unbelievably layered in taste, and everything complimented everything else. We tried a dozen different combinations of the foie gras, the duck, the brioche, the chutney and the apricot and all of them worked magnificently.

I should point out that by this point, Herself and myself were damn near high from all of this Especially after a month of dieting

The next dish was pan-fried fillet of sea bass with orange foam and two cubes of spinach jelly topped with a thin layer of the same jelly topped with spinach leaf. It was perfectly cooked sea bass, the fillet melted in the mouth and the skin was wonderfully crunchy, which only counterpointed the fillet. The spinach and the foam gave some lovely side flavours to the fish, but the fish was definitely the main point of the dish, more so than anything before this, where it had been about the combinations of things.

The “main” course of the meal was perfectly cooked venison, served in a deep, rich mushroom-based sauce, with braised red cabbage and a small garlic potato tart-like affair topped with a single knotted scallion, with a side dish of potato which had been cubed and cooked with cream and yeast, which we both thought sounded odd, but which was utterly wonderful – like malty potatoes. The venison was the best I’ve ever tasted, and the sauce matched it like a glove – it didn’t hide the taste of the venison, but enhanced it. The cabbage matched it perfectly and the overtone of the garlic was just the icing on the cake.

We were kindof sad at this point because the next dish was meant to have been the last (I thought it was an eight-course menu), and it was an interesting take on banoffie – a large shot glass with banana and some spices in a caramel with a whisky sabion on top. Perfectly balanced, and a lovely dessert dish.

And then the waiter brought out the ninth dish, which was the single best dessert I have ever had in my life. And it was very simple and didn’t involve chocolate. A brioche pudding, like a light version of a bread-and-butter pudding, served with a single scoop of milk sorbet. The brioche on its own was wonderful, but with the milk sorbet, it was this wonderful warm, comforting dessert in your mouth and the sorbet cleansed the palate as it went down so you finished the dessert feeling wonderfully satisfied but without any lingering aftertaste or feeling of heaviness or anything. It was dessert perfection.

And then coffee, and that was that.

Definitely the best meal I have ever had. Ever. Took ten years to beat the last time that record was set for me (by a little restaurant in a tiny side alley in the plaka in Athens), but this just stomped on in there and kicked that to the kerb.

Yeah, it’s got nothing to do with shooting. :p

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