On Sunday evening Steve and I walked the short distance to one of our local pubs The Oddfellows. The Pickle Shack were taking it over for the evening and hosting a pop up restaurant.
We were greeted at the bar by Jodie who showed us to our table and offered us our welcome drink. Damson Prosecco.. A perfect combination of colour and fizz. The tartness of the damsons coming through was for me a perfect start to the evening.
Josh McDonald-Johnson, the main man behind the Pickle Shack and head chef popped out to talk us through the menu. I was excited to see lots of true old English ingredients like quince, medlars and chestnuts. All foraged for in the East Devon countryside.
Once Josh had talked us through the menu he headed back to the kitchen to finish preparing our first course. Beetroot terrine, salad of heritage carrots, beetroot gel and toasted seeds. There was a smudge of the most wonderful and creamy parsnip purée on the side too which complimented the beetroot to perfection. Alongside out first course we were offered some beautifully sweet poppy seed and treacle bread that was served with a rose hued pink peppercorn butter.
Fish was the focus of the second course. Cured pollock, pork pops, celeriac stir fry, iced celery and quince. The fish was beautifully cooked and the combination of flavours were beautiful. Who would have thought that quince and pollock would work? But, it did and it was amazing.
The third course was the meat course. I went for the vegetarian option here. Steve had roast sirloin, tail mash,three hour red onion, beef bone jus and rapeseed oil snow and I had three hour red onion, mash, crispy onion, cauliflower purée and rapeseed oil snow.
My dish reminded me flavour wise of a deconstructed bubble and squeak. The Savoy cabbage mixed with the buttery mash and the crispy onion worked really well. It felt like Boxing Day on a plate to me! Steve’s sirloin was cooked pink and he said the flavours of the beef none jus combined really well with the oxtail mash. A very meaty dish. Perfect for the carnivores! Both dishes were served with a rapeseed oil snow. This was delicious. I hadn’t realised that rapeseed oil had such a wonderful flavour. The only way I can explain what the snow was like in texture is the feeling and squeaky crunch you get when you step out onto fresh snow but in your mouth. Does that make sense?? In my head it does..!
For dessert we were tempted with a medlar and dark chocolate cremeux, chestnut cake, medlar purée, thyme shortbread crumb and local walnuts. On first tasting I wasn’t really sure about the flavour combination of the medlar and dark chocolate cremeux. The slight tartness of the medlar with the sweet, creamy chocolate was unusual but the more you ate the more you realised that the flavours did work well together.
I think that Josh did himself proud at his pop up at The Oddfellows and I will certainly look out for more of his events in the new year. The price of the four course dinner with welcome drink was £30.00 per person and well worth it for the quality of food and flavours.
For me I like the fact that Josh is passionate about using seasonal and local produce, some of which he forages for himself which makes it extra special. I would like to mention some of his suppliers for the evening as they are championing the local food ethos too and obviously have the same passion for local food as I do.
Greendale Farm Shop, Woodbury Salterton – beef and eggs
Fresh and Green, Southerton – vegetables and herbs
Clyston Mill, Broadclyst – wholemeal flour
Ashclyst Dairy, Broadclyst – dairy
Bell and Loxton, Kingsbridge – rapeseed oil
Plus walnuts from Trudy’s garden, wild quince and medlar foraged from the East Devon countryside and pollack line caught from the Lyme Bay.