Showing posts with label THE RESTAURANT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label THE RESTAURANT. Show all posts

Tripadvisor - my personal view

I've rewritten this piece a few times so as not to respond emotively.

Its really frustrating to be targeted by a campaign of abuse by anonymous sources. This is exactly what the restaurant has been subjected to recently in a deliberate attempt to damage our business via the Tripadvisor website. Should I just ignore it and rise above it ? Maybe.

I like the idea of independant review sites but I genuinely have serious doubts as to how they can be valid, it is just far too easy to manipulate and fake reviews. I think they cannot be entirely ananymous without any review being suspect ... and I say this as a restaurant with many more positive than negative reviews.

Why the campaign ? I'm not sure, perhaps a member of staff that I have sacked or perhaps a competitor or someone I have upset ... I don't really know. I have only sacked staff go for reasons of incompetence, non-attendance (or both) so I guess there might be some resentment there. My local competition in town I have a good working relationship with and we share after work drinks so I certainly don't cast any aspersions their way ! We have had a few customers who take extreme umbrage, out of all proportion, to how we cook and/or serve food at the restaurant and to be honest I'm fine with them posting a negative review as we have a very defined style that will not suit everyone. We do go to a lot of effort to be clear about the style of the restaurant via website, sample menus and photos.

How do I know its a campaign not actual issues ?
  • The dishes that are referenced we don't serve (Rump steak)
  • The layout of the restaurant has been made up ('the cutlery was spilled outside the toilets' ... the loos are on another floor altogether)
  • Conversation that didn't happen ('Matt laughed at a fly in my salad')
The tone of some of the reviews is of such fury it actually makes me feel uncomfortable ... surely no one should get that upset over a meal ??

Don't get me wrong, there are negative reviews on Tripadvisor that are certainly fair and I'd love to be able to respond. We did have a vegetarian waitress who sneered at meat eaters ... for about two days until we parted company, some dishes have stayed on our menu for a long time, Fillet steak, bearnaise and smoked mash is a keeper but the goat's cheese salad has finally been replaced with a lovely goat's cheese pannacotta with beetroot crisps, poached and powdered rhubarb for the winter. There has been the occasional booking issue, some our fault, and some, I suspect a result of there being more than one restaurant called The Wild Garlic, at last count there are three in the UK I'm aware of.

I'm not going to respond to Tripadvisor, I find the anonymity of the site an invitation for some very unfounded reviews. I know approx 10% are fake for the reasons above. I know a number have been put up by a couple of single parties who have very strong ties to a competitor, I would like to think the competitor hasn't asked them too and they are acting out of a sense of loyalty. I know a number have been written as a result of me not acceding to blackmail and giving a free meal 'or we'll put negative reviews about you'.

If you are happy or unhappy with the restaurant in some way please post a comment to this blog entry, like all of my blog comments I will publish as long as you don't hide behind anonymity.


Burmese night at The Wild Garlic

On Friday night we held a succesful evening where I let MiMi of meemalee's kitchen take over my restaurant and cook Burmese food for the night ...

Why would I let someone take over my restaurant for a night and cook food I know nothing about ?

A question that will take a little longer than my usual twitter 140 characters to answer.

I guess the nub of my answer is the same reason 44 customers booked blindly to come and eat ... an interest in food and a different culture. I know MiMi does great food and has one of the best food blogs around (here) plus she is working on a cookbook ... hopefully she'll leave a comment with more details.

The practical ... Asian food isn't that hard to provide for a group ... its bulk rice and pots of curries, salads and cold foods ... there was a couple of dishes cooked to order but that's a whole lot less than any normal evening. Its not something I could do daily as MiMi and Simon spent two solid days on the preparation and we have hours between services to do our prep.

MiMi did a brilliant job of preparing a dozen or so dishes, about the right amounts for the customers, her and Terry plated and sent the food out well and on time for the evening.

How was the food ? ... there are some other bloggers who will describe better than I can ... lost in the larder for example, for me the food was interesting, some really good, like cinnamon chicken, and some I didn't enjoy ... I'm not going to hurry to eat century egg salad again but it was something I'm glad I tried, other customers disagreed and loved the salad.

The food is very different to most asian foods I've tried but I would choose to eat Burmese again. It has subtle flavours like Thai but light heat and spicing so very different too. The food was all very well cooked to a professional standard, by MiMi and her husband Simon who seemed to spend several days just chopping onions !

The customers, I think, felt pretty much the same, it was good food, it was mostly locals in, who block booked the restaurant within days of us deciding to host the night, for a great night out and a very different experience and we delivered that succesfully

Well done MiMi ... and good luck with your next popup !

Burmese Night at the Wild Garlic

Friday 1st October


Christophene Fritters
Gorakhar-thee Jaw

Matpe Bean Fritters
Bayar Jaw

Charred Tomato Salsa
Pun-tway Byaw


Wood-ear Mushroom and Bean-thread Vermicelli Soup
Jar-zun Hin-gah


Fish Ball Salad
Nga-pè Thoh(k)

Century Egg Salad
Say Bè-Oo Thoh(k)

Green Bean Salad
Bair-thee Thoh(k)


Cinnamon Chicken
Je(t)-thar Hin-mway

Mogok Pork Curry
We(t)-thar Hnu(t)

Tomato and Coriander Prawns
Bazuhn See-Byun

Straw Mushroom, Oyster Mushrooms, Baby Spinach
Moh Hin-Noo-Nwè

Burmese Coleslaw and Shrimp Relish
Gorbee Thoh(k), A’Ngun Jaw


Coconut Sorbet, Tapioca Milk and Brioche
Mohn(t) Le(t) Saon

Telegraph review

Was so delighted to get a great review from the Telegraph ... one of the best I've seen ... will address the limeness of my tart for next week !

Dorset restaurant guide: The Wild Garlic in Dorset

Jasper Gerard is delighted by The Wild Garlic restaurant in Dorset.

Dorset restaurant guide: The Wild Garlic in Dorset
The Wild Garlic: Simple, stunning and seasonal Photo: CHRISTOPHER JONES
Dusk is the time to descend on Puckden Wood. I walk to its heart, open my arms then breathe in lungful after lungful. The flowers of May cover the ground as extravagantly as had the falls of January's snow, and every year this great explosion of ransoms leaves me spellbound. My children are normally about as keen on walking as Pauline Prescott is after a fresh blow-dry but come May even they will down their Wiis and race to the woods. April's sweet sweep of bluebells had seemed beauty itself, until summer's white shroud. Early evening is when deer break cover and in their flight they trample the delicate flowers that could so easily be lily of the valley, and this fills the wood with a powerful aroma of garlic.
I realise that brand-wise, garlic has work to do. The marketing men would consider its pong a definite negative. Its image is down there with Ratners and New Labour while even the prettiest lips parted to reveal garlic breath will send most us recoiling faster than from a Greek bearing gilts.
But in the woods I can't get close enough to wild garlic. You would kiss this with gusto. If it weren't for its unsexy reputation Jennifer Aniston would have declared it a scent and bottled it as "Amorous: the Aroma" or "Whiff of the Wild – For Women".
So I'm delighted to see garlic being rehabilitated. A restaurant has been opened called Wild Garlic, and it's sensational. The chef is Mat Follas, the IT geek now reigning as Masterchef. And serendipitously his inspiration is Denmark's Noma, just declared the best restaurant in the world. Follas had a stint at Noma while filming Masterchef and impressed its chef, Rene Redzepi, as he did viewers. As I await a table there – Copenhagen's tourist board claims 100,000 people around the globe are in the queue – I'm intrigued to see how its ethos might work in Britain.
Noma goes way beyond the usual "local produce" mantra, avoiding even olive oil. When I interviewed Redzepi recently he spoke of sending his chefs foraging, garnering extraordinary ingredients: cloudberrys, wild beach roses, musk ox. He talks with near-religious solemnity about venturing out with "cold fingers" to pick "the first shoots of spring".
True, many British restaurants now decorate dishes with "foraged leaves" but these sometimes add about as much flavour as the cellophane packaging to a sandwich. Follas claims to employ three foragers. I'm not sure wild garlic is the greatest challenge to the forager's craft seeing as you can smell it several fields away but the name does symbolise Noma's attempt to re-connect with nature. If Heston Blumenthal is exploring the future, Noma is pioneering the past.
Beaminster is a small town with a big appetite. On a soaking midweek evening two food vans do a bustling trade while inside the simple, rustic restaurant every table has been snared. As soon as chefs acquire even the stringiest reputation they often desert to shoot some dire cookery show, but within minutes of us sitting before our rough-hewn table Follas enters the dining room. He is bearing a giant brill of proportions almost as generous as his own. Our eyes had wandered elsewhere on the brief but tempting menu but who could resist that brill? Redzepi also brings food to table, declaring there is nothing like facing customers out front to raise his game out back. Follas is rugby-tackled by another customer rhapsodising: "That's the best pigeon I've ever tasted".
I order a starter of spelt and nettle risotto with confit rabbit, and I'm tempted to do bunny hops of joy. Spelt grain makes this sturdier than conventional risotto, while pine nuts add crunchiness and nettle pesto round the edge lends intrigue. Like all Follas dishes it's perfectly seasoned, but it's the strong flavour of rabbit that wows. Faultless.
Diana tries crab pâté with cucumber and pickled dill, stunningly presented with nasturtiums and resting on chicory leaves which somehow escape bitterness and are instead young and juicy.
Unusually an amuse bouche arrives after the first course by which time our mouths are already laughing merrily. And rather than some frothy nonsense this is proper grub: smoked venison, so tender I long for it all over again.
And so to brill, arriving not so much on a plate as a giant flying saucer. There are no tricks, just consummate cooking of fine fresh fish, lifted powerfully by lemon and caper butter. Fillet of beef with – another seasonal touch – asparagus is another simple perfectly cooked winner, the only twist coming in wonderfully smoked mash.
Puddings don't win quite so many garlands. A lime tart has good texture on thin short-crust pastry and is well caramelised, but where's the lime? It tastes more like thick baked custard. Hot chocolate is better, with cream poured into the gooey middle lightening the richness.
But these are quibbles as trifling as a foraged Jack-by-the-hedge. If the burghers of every country town could enjoy a restaurant like the beaming folk of Beaminster's, we Britons would be happier bunnies.
Best of all there is nothing poncey about this place. A note on the menu states: "If you have had great service please leave a tip; if you haven't, don't." Just so.
Now when I amble over to Puckden Wood I will still be thinking of aromas – but they will be calling me back to Beaminster.
  • The Wild Garlic Restaurant, 4 The Square Beaminster, Dorset (01308 861 446)
  • Dinner for two: £84.50
  • 9/10

New Orleans, Louisiana and Texas Roadtrip

It's been such a fantastic year at the restaurant, and I have loved every minute of it. The beginning of this month saw me pass on my Masterchef title to Dhruv Baker; such a worthy winner of the competition that changed my life. I wish him at least as much success and fun from his win as I have and still enjoy. 

We have been open for a year I have seen the menu change each season, sometimes daily, according to what is growing and what is available. You can be sure that whatever's on our menu is fresh and locally sourced, if possible, even if it does cause me a bit of a headache sometimes!

The staff I now have in the restaurant are great, and as a team we are continuously creating food and an eating atmosphere that we enjoy giving to our customers, and hopefully also they enjoy. I am always trying to push myself to keep the best standards, but still strive to improve and explore new ideas. One thing I have always wanted to do is open a cafe, the kind of cafe I talked about on Masterchef. I now have that chance and have put in an offer at a site in Beaminster, just opposite the restaurant.  Fingers crossed, if it all goes through, when it opens I want to give everyone who comes in a great cup of coffee and also something fun and yummy to eat, without necessarily having a three course meal. A more tapas approach to food so I can do dishes that are inspired from other cultures, that everyone can mix and match - ending with a combination on their plate they wouldn't really have thought of having before.

So in order to get some inspiration, (and also a bit of a break and fun !) I am off to do a Motel 6 road trip in America. 

As of Monday I will be in New Orleans and riding a Harley Davidson through to Lafayette, then on to visit the Tabasco factory and staying in Lake Charles. A quick cooking demo on a local TV station and then off along the coast to San Antonio, through to Houston for a couple of days and then off to Dallas, before a stop in Alexandria takes me in a loop to New Orleans again.  En route I am going to be chatting with anyone I can about local wild foods that can be found, and of course getting inspiration for my cafe dishes to bring back home. I am hoping bloggers and twitterers will give me suggestions of where they think I should eat.....and if you have advice on any wild foods I can find as well. Whatever I do find I will be taking pictures of and posting on this blog.  

I planned the trip with Motel 6, they have an online trip planner at where I put in each stop I wanted and they figured out the journey route. Great for me and I know that I have a bed waiting for me at the end of every day's riding. 
I know the restaurant will be in the safest of hands while I'm traveling USA, which isn't for long anyway. A quick break so I can come back refreshed and ready to step up a gear as the restaurant moves into the summer months. Get in touch with me please and let me know where you think I should eat, and what to look out for in the countryside. The trip is only a couple of days away, and I can't wait!


Spelt Risotto with confit wild rabbit

This recipe contains two fantastic British products, organic pearled Spelt and Old Winchester cheese. We've been trying to move towards using mainly British produced ingredients in the restaurant, and although we have a long way to go yet, these two products will definitely remain on our menu for the future.
I discovered Spelt recently through the 'Taste of The West' awards. It's an ancient grain and a distant cousin of wheat, introduced to England, it's thought, by the Romans.
I had been looking for an alternative to rice and the pearled spelt is as good as, if not better than, rice. It doesn't have the stickiness of risotto rice but retains an aldente centre which gives a wonderful bite to the texture.
Old Winchester is a vegetarian, hard cheese, with a delicious deep flavour which I use in place of Parmesan.
Confit can refer to preserving by immersion, historically this was fruits preserved in sugar. More commonly confit is used to describe a method of cooking by slow poaching in oil or fat, French confit is typically Duck or Goose poached in fat whereas in Italy it is poached in olive oil. I use vegetable oil or duck fat, a few herbs in the oil will infuse a great flavour to the meat, the meat is seasoned with brine before slow poaching for a few hours to create a delicious flavoursome meat. Rabbit works brilliantly as it is a lean meat and the method of cooking stops it drying out which is often a problem when roasting rabbit as they are naturally very lean.

(Serves 4)

Spelt Risotto:
120g pearled spelt (available from Sharpham Park - Tel. 01458 844080 or
2 x Onions
75g Old Winchester cheese (finely grated) (available from Lyburn Farmhouse Cheesemakers - Tel. 01794 390451 or
500ml Stock (Chicken or vegetable)
250g Bag of spinach or 200g nettle leaves (if in season)
Knob of butter
Pinch of salt

Confit wild rabbit:
1 wild rabbit (cleaned and quartered by your butcher)
100g salt
1.5 ltr vegetable oil
Small bunch of thyme
Spelt Risotto:

  • Finely chop the onions and sauté in a pan with a little butter and salt until translucent

  • Add the Spelt and mix. Add approx 1/3 of the warmed stock and bring to a low simmer. Stir whilst simmering until the liquid is absorbed

  • Add another 1/3 of the warmed stock and stir. Once the liquid has been absorbed, you have a choice; it'll only take 10 minutes to finish the dish, or you can store the risotto for up to 48 hours in the fridge

  • Add the remaining stock. Simmer and stir until most of it has been absorbed, then add the finely grated cheese, and stir

  • Add the spinach or washed nettle leaves, stir until all the liquid has been absorbed and the leaves are cooked

Confit wild rabbit:

  • Make a brine by mixing the salt with 1.5 ltr water. Place the rabbit pieces in a bowl and pour the brine over until the rabbit is well covered. Put in a fridge for 24 hours

  • To make the confit, take the rabbit out of the bowl of brine, wipe-off excess moisture and place in a suitable large pan (where the rabbit pieces have enough space not to be touching)

  • Pour the vegetable oil over the rabbit until it is covered and throw in the thyme

  • Bring the pan to a temperature of 80-90C (this might be best to do in an oven). Leave at this temperature for 4 hours

  • Remove the pan from the oven and take the rabbit out. Dry-off any excess oil

  • Flake the meat from the bones

To serve, spoon the risotto into a large bowl and place the rabbit meat on top. Decorate with a sprig of fresh thyme.

Lemon Sole with caper and lemon butter sauce

Fresh Sole, baked to perfection and topped with a buttery, citrus, sweet and vinegar caper and lemon butter sauce. My recipe is borrowed shamelessly from a classic Sole Meunière recipe which uses Dover sole and parsley in the lemon butter sauce.
This is another regular dish from the restaurant, simple and quick to make, the skill is in the timing of the dish and ensuring the temperatures are correct, follow the recipe carefully to get a perfect sauce and ensure your fish is as fresh as possible as it is served slightly rare to capture the flavours of the fish.
This can also be used for John Dory and Plaice, for Megrims and Dover Sole get your fishmonger to skin the fish before cooking. Ensure all fish used comes from a sustainable source, Megrims are a great local South West alternative to Dover Sole which are becoming scarcer.

Serves 2

Butter sauce

100g unsalted butter
1 Lemon
tblsp Capers

Heat the butter moderately till it foams, when the foaming stops reduce the heat and add fine zest from the lemon, as soon as the butter colours turn the heat off.
Wait till the butter cools and then add ½ the juice of the lemon (no sooner or the butter will burn) and the capers before reheating till the sauce foams again, immediately taking off the heat when it foams.
Serve warmed over the cooked fish

For the Sole
1 Sole
Vegetable oil
Plain flour

Gut and rinse your fresh Lemon Sole
Slash the skin in crossed diagonal strips (as per the picture) on both sides
Drag the sole in a plate of seasoned flour and lay on a oven tray, (hint: use a teflon sheet to ensure you can get it out of the tray !)
Pour about ½ cup of oil over the fish and rub it into the fish on both sides to cover.
Bake in hot oven for 10-15 minutes
Probe the middle of the fish and remove from the oven when the centre of the fish reaches 60C degrees, crisp for a few moments under the grill.
Plate and pour a generous portion of the sauce over the plate

Serve with some samphire and fresh salad (foraged sea vegetables work great if you have a source for them).

Restaurant review: The Wild Garlic, Beaminster, Dorset

Our Score was 9.5/10 (including 0.25 taken off for a wobbly table) ... not bad ! Here's the online version of the review:

Restaurant review: The Wild Garlic, Beaminster, Dorset

Mat Follas, 2009 MasterChef winner, has opened a restaurant. Has he bitten off more than he can chew? Far from it
Wild Garlic
The Wild Garlic, Beaminster: What a difference a year makes – Mat Follas has gone from winning a TV cooking competition to setting up this little beauty of a restaurant. Photograph: David Partner

Adducing a corpse as a witness for anything is a cheap and distasteful gambit, so let me begin by suggesting that Keith Floyd, who died after lunching elsewhere in Dorset a few days after our visit, would have adored Mat Follas's first restaurant and might even have identified him as the fruit of his culinary loins. Although familiar to many of you as this year's MasterChef winner, Follas was a new face to me due to the Grossmanophobia that makes watching that show impossible even now, years after that stoic sufferer from irritable vowel syndrome departed. Follas's career is the mirror image of Floyd's, the latter becoming a telly character off the back of being a chef-proprietor and the former achieving the trick in reverse, but otherwise they are as one. The vibrant passion for food – the sourcing and foraging for it, as well as the cooking of it – with which Floyd laid the populist ground for programmes such as MasterChef shines through at the Wild Garlic in the pretty town of Beaminster.
  • Open lunch, Tues-Sun, noon-2pm (11am-2pm Sun brunch); dinner, Thurs-Sat, 7-11pm. Price per head for three courses, wine, coffee and service, £40-45.
There is so much else to admire that the traditional Hazgush warning must be issued. The twin traps of fierce lighting and lousy acoustics that often ruin otherwise impressive restaurants are nimbly avoided. The light green walls are unencumbered by hideous paintings, the furniture is farmhousy solid, and the room resounds with the appetite- stimulating buzz of relaxed people relishing their grub.
The short printed menu, meanwhile, bolstered by a wide range of blackboarded daily specials, is perfectly judged and resists the temptation to impress with technical wizardry that afflicts many gifted amateurs when they turn pro. Follas understands that encouraging first-rate ingredients to taste of themselves has the edge over poncery and ostentation. He also has unusual mastery of presentation, adorning the starters with an exquisite little salad dotted with edible flowers. Pan-fried garlic scallops (three plump beauties for £7; the pricing of both food and wine is without chutzpah) came alluringly browned, and with absurdly delicious miso-infused seaweed. My wife was lukewarm about her caramelised goat's cheese ("Nice enough, but a bit pointless"), but my smooth, subtle chicken liver pâté was great, while ceviche of brill was spectacularly fresh and zingy, and had a limey kick to keep a fleet of Tudor galleons scurvy-free for a year.
There then followed a moment that had me cooing at Follas's business sense. The inter-course hiatus was plugged by an amuse-bouche of a dozen clams garnished with capers and garlic mayonnaise, one of those cute touches that costs a restaurant thruppence but leaves punters purring at what seems a lavish freebie. Two of us then went for the lemon sole, a vast and blameless fish served whole and on the bone, and laden with more capers and garlic butter. My wife thought her ribeye steak of water buffalo well seasoned and cooked to the ideal medium rarity, but lacking the depth of flavour of beef, and for what the marital ledger reveals to be the ninth time in 18 years of holy wedlock, we were in full agreement there. However, she was wild about the "smoked mash" – a mound of fluffy, creamy potato suffused with a hickory, mesquitish twang – that also came with my five ruby-red slices of sensationally tender and flavoursome sika venison.
Fresh berry mess was magnificent, and chocolate brownies with cream, chocolate twizzle and berries was "absolutely the best I've had outside the Popeseye," said my wife of a beloved west London steak house.
All in all, this was one of the most pleasing meals I've eaten in years, served with warmth and expertise by a dramatically mustachioed manager and a droll waitress in pole position to do something about it, since her day job is running the old-fashioned barber's bang opposite. Follas is an exceedingly rare talent. Nothing the programme could ever accomplish could compensate for unleashing Loyd Grossman on this island, but MasterChef should be very proud of itself indeed.

Rowan berry Jelly

Rowan berry jelly is not something I'd tried before and the feedback on making it was mixed ... bitter, too tart, unpleasant was just some of the feedback I received from my twitter foodie crowd. I also had a number of people advise me that with game it adds something special so it was worth trying and our forager had brought two containers full into the restaurant.

About 600g picked rowans
3 Apples
Reduce over moderate heat
Add approx 2 cups of sugar

What I was left with was a very strongly flavoured, bitter and extremely dry jam ... way too strong to serve and not very pleasant. It did, however, have an unusual flavour that, just before binning the jelly, I tried to keep by adding to some blackberry reduction we use to sauce our venison ...

At a ratio of about one spoon of rowan jam to 1/2 cup of blackberry reduction we suddenly have a very good sauce with a back taste of rowan and a dryness that adds really well to venison ... and is now on the menu.

Venison two ways

Here's a dish I made for the restaurant as a starter last night, a ramiken of the chilli with the wild salad and smoked venison ... its really good ! The chilli was made from a leg of venison I'd left to slow roast in the oven for the afternoon in an oven tray wrapped in clingfilm (to keep it moist).
Smoked Venison with wild salad
  • Venison loin
  • Salad
  • Fresh berries
  • Beetroot
  • Oak chips for smoker
  • sugar

Smoke Venison for 10-15 minutes in hot smoker till it is partially cooked and the colour of oak ... chill in fridge
Clean berries, heat with a little water and sugar to taste, then sieve to make a sauce
Peel and slice beetroot before frying slices till cooked through
Cut beetroot into matchstick sized pieces

Assemble on bed of wild salad, slices of venison with beetroot, then drizzle a little berry sauce over to taste, serve.

Venison Chilli
  • 400g Slow roasted venison
  • 10 Vine tomatoes
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • 100g 70% Chocolate
  • 1 espresso coffee
  • 2 Chillies finely sliced

Drizzle balsamic and oil over tomatoes, roast in hot oven for 20min till just starting to blacken, blend and sieve to make a roast tomato passata. Make more of this as a base for pasta dishes or soups
Flake roast venison meat into small pieces with two forks (or use blender but don't over blitz ! )
Mix chillies, meat, passata, chocolate and coffee together and heat together slowly, it will make a glossy, hot chilli which is delicious on its own with a few crackers or tortilla chips. It doesn't need to cook overly so keep at a gentle heat. Add more or less chillies, espresso and chocolate to taste.

New Plates for the restaurant ...

We had asked Marnie (who made our lovely tables) to try her hand at plates and after a couple of samples we now have the most amazing wooden plates for the restaurant. They'll be used for crab and starters ... how cool are they !?

Festivals, recipes and update

The restaurant continues to absorb most of my time, we are having a great time and rapidly improving in most areas, front of house, food and decor. Sorry for lack of posts but will write some soon, hopefully this weekend when I'm away at a lovely food festival in county Durham ... do come if you live anywhere nearby and say hi.

I also plan to be at Hatfield House in a couple of weeks, just north of London, on the Saturday

The other festival that is coming (and slightly scary !) are the Good Food Birmingham and London where Masterchef will be featured hugely with a new re branding by the beeb, very few details of what is expected of me at this stage but will be great to meet up with some of the other winners and have some fun, both festivals details are here

Thanks everyone for comments on the restaurant, most have been positive and constructive and these do get a lot of attention and thought. I think we are addressing most of the areas where we agree with your concerns and, yes,  there are some things which we won't change, the type of food, the style of the restaurant and our commitment to creating a customer experience. Apologies to those who haven't been able to get in yet for dinner but we have space lunchtimes with a few days notice and will have more space in the winter months and look forward to seeing you then, there are many other great places to eat if you are down our way for holidays, hopefully you can stop in for lunch at least while you are down in lovely West Dorset.

So a longer more detailed post on opening and several recipes to come ... soon I hope !


We have a new member of the team ... Jo (who is a Phd in woodland ecology) looked us up and showed up today with a big tray of whortleberries ... what yummy fruit. They are like blueberries but with flavour and more colour !

Looking forward to what else she shows up with ... lots of wild mushrooms for the autumn and should have some interesting plants over the next couple of months for the restaurant !

Made Berry mess using them and used as a coulis with Beth's brownies today in the restaurant ... will try with a burnt cream or mousse tomorrow ...

The first week

Thanks all of you who followed and commented on my guardian blogs

Just finished watching the semi of the celeb version of Masterchef ... I have the cameras coming down next Saturday for next years show ... not sure I feel ready yet for their scrutiny !

This week was such a challenge, five lunch and dinner services, staff unavailable, high expectations ....

We came through well I think, I wasn't happy with all the food lthe first couple of nights and had a few comments re temperature and a couple of undercooked fish coming back ... not ideal ... I think we have it fixed now and the food going through the door this week was of good quality. I want that to be great quality and am starting to think about how we take it to the next level now we have a really good team working in the restaurant.

Foraged sea kale made for a great Skate dish, I will get some pics next week as it looks great ! Fresh squid flashed through the pan with chilli, sweet and lime undertones is proving a favourite, scallops with seaweed and sea kale seed pods and fresh makeral crispy fried with a bit of samphire are both going well too. The Water Buffalo went too well as we sold out very quickly ... hardly a big problem I know ! We dressed up the local rib eye steak stand-in with a courgette flower on the plate which went really well as a combination.

All in all a great week, fantastic staff, good food, great customers who it is a privilege to meet and discuss food with ... next steps will be fun taking the food to the next level and still managing to get it out in time ... and to make some money along the way !

I will get back to posting some of the new dishes as we develop them ... and please do post comments, I do read all of them and take what you say on board.

We've got the phone on at last !

We've got the phone on at last, (it will also have a BT Openzone). I've plugged an answer machine in so please do feel free to start calling. I'm confident we'll be open on time, lots of work still to do but we'll get there.

All nights have some space at the moment. Opening night for dinner will be 25th June and for lunch from 23rd June. For more details see our website The Wild Garlic, there's an email link and phone number.

(Yes we will also be open for coffee and a glass or two during the daytime, Lunch Tues-Sat and Dinner Thurs-Sat ... more details on website ... Mat)

Phone number: 01308 861446

Please see our draft menu :

The Restaurant - day one

Yes we have signed at last ... here's a preview of how it looks after I whited the windows to start work ... more to come.

Have just spent the day ripping out all the plants and tidying up the front ...

Phone is not on yet and working to opening date of 20 June ! Will post as soon as we are taking bookings.