I was invited to The Shed Bar and Restaurant in Notting Hill, which opened on the 23rd Oct 2012. It is run by the three Gladwin Brothers being a farmer, a chef and a restaurateur, and each come with a specific area of expertise. The concept behind The Shed is to bring together the best food and wine from their own farm and region of Nutbourne in West Sussex, along with seasonal fresh food and the foraged. The menu changes every day, so new dishes will be appearing daily and when in season.
Initially looking like a Mexican Cantina in the dark evening, the lights inside made for a welcoming look. Greeted as soon as we opened the door, the décor was full of rustic charm, from farm signs, country wood, historic ornaments and a well stocked bar. Every table in The Shed is unique; from the tractor seat bench to the old school tables, each looked different yet all worked together perfectly. We chose a table for two near the open kitchen serving area – ideal to see what’s going on and to chat to the Chef.
The initial cocktail chosen was The Shed’s Daily Loosener – a foraged rosehip, Chase GB gin and white wine spritzer smooth and fruity and refreshing in a way that pleased and did not leave you unsatisfied and thirsty for another. A great start to the evening.
Heated plates were then delivered to our table. This showed much more planning than just dishing out dishes, and made us aware that attention to detail was high here.
We decided on letting the chef choose a selection for us that showed of the culinary skills at The Shed. On listening to others ordering during the evening this seems a normal thing to do here; which is ideal as a good selection was made for us, all served at reasonable interludes and in a nice logical order.
The wine list was very comprehensive, yet managed to keep most prices to an affordable level. Each wine was described and categorized in plain country terms, such as ‘Garden and Shed’ or ‘Fire and Earth’, and many had further humorous comments attached. Sometimes it is good to see the wines playing their part in a meal but not being too serious about it. We ordered a glass of the Nutty fizz and one of the Nutty house wine; both made on the Gladwin’s Nutbourne family farm. They were both cheerful and easy to drink.
I ordered a bottle of the house red to go with the food. This was a mistake in hindsight, as although the wine was more than drinkable, the food was so good that it cried out for a better wine, and I would recommend a more mid range Shiraz or Pinot Noir to exploit fully the flavours of the meal.
First up, a set of 4 amusee bouche platters, or “mouthfuls” as they are called.
Onion and Chedder Twirls – a figure of eight tartlette of light pastry and caramalised onion.
Crispy Cuttlefish in Sweet Chili Dip – completely unique, the cuttlefish was like delicate calamari in a superb spicy sauce. I wish that this was a main dish!
Pheasant and Watercress Pate on Crisp Bread – very strong game taste game, the pepperiness of the watercress coming up to finish, which was good. It went well with the wine due to its strength of flavor that complimented the full bodied wine.
Mackerel Pate on Toast – the crisp toast were done to perfection and really shows an all-round attention to detail. A light torn mackerel on top that was full of the dry mackerel taste without any of the lingering fishy aftertaste you might expect.
Next a plate of The Shed made sourdough bread, freshly cut by Olly (below). Not made using yeast, there is little history to it, but it was made entirely on the premises, with each batch building on the experience of production of the past. It was much more airy than you would expect of a sourdough bread, and full of wheat flour taste.
With that came a plate of the Nutbourne Brawn Terrine. This was The Shed homemade brawn, made from the stew of two pigs heads, cooked, drained, the finest meat extracted and then the initial drained fluids added back to make the purest jelly wrap. It was full of meat, and placed on a bed of pickled Chard stalks, which were crunchy and tart, which removed any fattiness from the jelly.
The time was now 7.45pm and almost all the tables were full.
Sitting next to the kitchen serving point, there were times when it looked like chaos; but the reality was that it was all in control, and each dish to each table being brought out to a meticulous time plan. It is a credit to both the chef’s and the staff that they have this organization sorted so well within only days of opening.
Then came two special “fast cooking” dishes.
Chicory, Pear and Bacon Salad with a Sherry Dressing – this dish with warm bacon maintained its crispness throughout. The chicory was crunchy, as was the pear in a pleasant way. The firm chunks of bacon were full of flavor and had no fat attached.
Shaved Button Mushrooms, Quickes Goat’s Cheese and Lemon – all individually pleasant, but a mouthful of all the ingredients together showed a delicate balance that worked well between the three and showed the planning that had gone into choosing the combination of ingredients.
Four main dishes were then served.
Pulled Pork, Parsnips and Nutbourne Tomatoes – delicate pork shoulder meat in a bowl of sauce with pickled turnip, carrot and a variety of tomatoes. The sauce was to die for, infused into the meat, and spoons were ordered to make sure we didn’t miss a mouthful.
Lamb Chips with Harissa – this was a really surprising dish. Strips of lamb meat were pressed overnight and then formed into fingers which were then glazed in nuts and breadcrumbs to make lamb chips. Served in a pile with a spicy Harissa sauce they were exquisite, without a hint of fat anywhere.
Stuffed Pumpkin with Spelt Grain, Leeks, Almond and Garlic Crumb – this was a vegan dish, but it was full of nuts and fruits mashed into the most fluffy inside of a small baby pumpkin. It was beautifully presented, and both tasty and filling. Looking at how many were coming out of the kitchen it was clearly a seasonal hit with other diners too.
Venison Liver and Onions – very fresh and as part of the normal meat supply to The Shed, the Venison Liver was a real treat. It cut on the edge of a fork and was like a veal pate. The initial taste of the seared venison outside gave way to a warmth of smooth liver taste; clearly venison but unusual and rare. A must to try if it is on the menu.
The time was now 8.40 pm and all the tables were full.
For desert, a Treacle Tart to share; which was fine as we were both full. The treacle pudding was more like an oatmeal and treacle pie, which actually made it lighter than a full-on treacle pudding could be. With a bit of whipped cream at its side, it was a nice way to finish an enjoyable evening.
122 Palace Gardens Terrace
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