Review: An effortlessly romantic evening at Le Talbooth, Dedham
PUBLISHED: 12:52 15 August 2015
EADT food editor Charlotte Smith-Jarvis dines at Le Talbooth, Dedham
There’s something totally and utterly, effortlessly romantic about Le Talbooth in Dedham.
The beamed riverside restaurant, part of the Milsom group, is, for many, the only place to go to celebrate those special occasions. And it buzzes in summertime when the weekend barbecues take place on the terrace.
We visited for a romantic dinner a deux just last week.
It had been hot and sunny day and, although the temperature was beginning to drop, we just couldn’t not eat al fresco.
Seated under a sail-like canopy, overlooking the gently flowing river, surrounded by impeccably kept and brightly coloured flowers, the setting couldn’t have been more idyllic.
While I quaffed on a glass of Prosecco and Jarv sampled a glass of Carlyle Shiraz (blackberry and biscuit on the nose, juicy with blackcurrants and liquorice on the palette) we were brought some delicious mixed olives and smoked almonds – which reminded us of the nibbles we had on our very first romantic break together to Paris, travelling first class on Eurostar.
A selection of freshly baked bread, from seeded, to sunflower and olive, was offered generously at regular intervals by the friendly, unobtrusive staff while we waited for our starters.
I have to give a mention here to the young waiting team. They had a very joined-up approach to service and were totally on the ball all evening. They clearly communicate very well with one another.
And onto the food.
Well. I must say here. It isn’t cheap. But as a spot that’s cooked for royalty, uses the finest ingredients and latest cooking methods, and for the setting alone, it’s worth the money.
Starters focus heavily on seafood and there is seasonal produce used throughout the entire menu.
Choices included Talbooth smoked salmon with herb mayonnaise, purple cauliflower, bone marrow, kromeski and capers, and Thetford Forest venison carpaccio.
We shared a couple of plates of shellfish.
The new season sweetcorn veloute, we both agreed, was sublime and demonstrated an in-depth knowledge and understanding of texture, flavour profiles and food pairing. The veloute was sweet, well seasoned and light, topped with the most succulent, juicy Sicilian red prawns which, honestly, melted in the mouth. A stroke of genius was the addition of toasted wild rice, which added a little crunch in every mouthful and gave a hint of popcorn. Very clever.
The poached native lobster was also exquisite. Fresh and invigorating to eat, the underlying oilyness of the lobster was cut through by the anise notes of the fennel and a zing of orange. There was a little Jersey royal salad on the side too. Jarv hates fennel and usually pushes it to the side of the plate, but he couldn’t help but be bowled over by this dish.
Our main courses came in good time. My penchant for lamb was satisfied by buttery best end of lamb rump, presented with dainty pearls of purple potato, earthy mushrooms, and a pastille stuffed with braised leg.
What made the meal for me was the well executed, deeply savoury red wine jus, which lubricated and seasoned every mouthful. It was so lip-smacking I could have poured it into a glass and drunk it.
On the other side of the table was a pressing of chicken and goose liver, parcelled in a pastry-like bun. Served with a delicately made consommé and baby vegetables, this was appreciated with equal measure.
And onto pudding.
What can I say? I’m a dessert girl. I love a sweet. And I also cannot say no to chocolate.
My black cherry and chocolate ‘millionaire’ was out-of-this-world. So good I pushed Jarv’s roaming fork from my plate when he tried to sneak a nibble.
On a crunchy biscuit base was a velvet-like dark mousse, studded with sour cherry. Beneath lay a bed of cherry jelly. On top, cherry jelly. And around the plate, cherries covered in chocolate and filled with booze. Oh, and to top it all off there was the crowning glory of some gold leaf. I was in heaven.
Jarv also went down the chocolate route, picking a layered white chocolate parfait with peanuts, celery and rum jelly, all of which worked fabulously well together.
To round-off the evening I couldn’t resist the temptation of a luxurious hot chocolate, and Jarv was lured by a waiter into having an Irish coffee.
Moments later we were presented with the ‘treat box’ gleaming with hand made truffles to accompany our meal.
Could we handle more chocolate? You bet.
“I could get used to this,” I said, grinning as I bit into a molten salted caramel.
When you want to eat a meal that’s out of the ordinary, somewhere very special, this places ticks all the boxes.
Le Talbooth, Gun Hill, Dedham
Call 01206 323150 To find out more click here