When you’ve seen pictures on social media of the young chefs out and about foraging during the week prior to heading out to your feast, you already know you are going to be eating some wonderful, local, fresh foraged ingredients and I was excited about the menu already.
We do live in a wonderful county full of fantastic produce and eating at Gather will enable you to feast on some of Devon’s wonderful bountiful larder, probably even eating some foods you’ve never eaten before and what is exciting is that the menu doesn’t give too much away, so that when each dish is placed in front of you, it will be a real surprise.
We had the pleasure of attending Gather’s 5th Pop Up event which was held at The Sea Shanty Beach Café in Branscombe, their second one at this venue. Gather is a team of talented young chefs, 20 years of age, all of whom have studied at Exeter College, worked under the watchful eye of Michael Caines MBE and at other top restaurants with some great chefs.
Harrison, who was a student at the Michael Caines Academy, already with the title of South West Student Chef of the Year 2016 under his hat, and also a finalist in 2017 in the South West Chef Professional Category. Then there is Declan, who has had placements in top establishments including The Waterside Inn at Bray, Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons in Oxford to name a few.
Also assisting in the kitchen was Oli, who is currently the chef at The Sea Shanty Beach Cafe. Front of house and also looking after these lovely young men is James, who was the perfect charming host and we had the most warmest of welcomes on this particularly cold January evening.
With the chefs busy cooking and plating up in the kitchen, (they had been there since 9:00am that morning) James brought out the dishes to our tables, telling us what they were and where the ingredients were foraged from. For me, this was really interesting and I was intrigued about the journey the foods had taken.
The first course was snacks, which was Devilled Eggs and Fish & Chips. Balanced on a paper thin crouton was a quails egg, delicately piped with egg mayonnaise. This was flavoursome. The second part of the Snacks was a piece of pickled red gurnard and tartare sauce sat on top of a potato souffle. Next came out some warm sourdough with seaweed butter. The bread had a nutty flavour with a good crust and with the butter melting in gave a taste of the sea.
The amuse bouche was River Exe Mussels. One solitary plump mussel in a shell, or so we thought. The shell was in fact a pastry made with squid ink, then pressed into an empty mussel shell with another placed on top and then deep fried. This was to get the appearance of a shell. How clever. It was garnished with crispy seaweed. I was glad I had saved some of my bread so that I could mop up every last bit of the rich sauce.
Those were the appetisers and so now it was time for the starters which was a tortellini, stuffed with River Dart Nettles, pennywort, white kale, sorrel & dandelion. The tasty green sauce was made of the same filling.
The mains were half a poussin, with Blewit mushroom from Dartmoor and a rich broth of madeira and chicken jus. No waste of the bird in this dish as the meat from the wing was layered in with the boulangere potatoes.
The cheese course, (proper French menu where you have the cheese course before the dessert) arrived next. Salty, creamy, rich lumps of Helford Blue with candied walnuts, grapes & grape puree prettily arranged on a salt water cracker. A delicate balance of sharp and sweet flavours and textures to complement the strong cheese.
Dessert – yippee, there were two! I’ve not had a meal where you are treated to a pre dessert!
A palette cleanser I would call the first one, which was Pineapple Weed Sorbet. This was hidden under a wafer thin shard of pineapple meringue. Now my taste buds had already been tickled and toured the coast and fields of Devon and this icy cold sharp sorbet was delightful and paved the way for the more luxurious dessert of an apple canelé, caramelised apple and ice cream. Not quite finished yet, coffee arrived with a miniature profiterole.
What a perfect end to what I can only describe as fantastic foraged foodie experience. Each plate of food had its own little story, from hedge, river, field and finally making its way into the kitchen, where the guys worked their magic on producing some top end restaurant tasty pretty plates of food. Attention to detail, in the planning, preparation, cooking and the presentation of each dish was very impressive.
These young chefs are certainly ones to watch. Their next pop up event is at Torbay Yacht Club on Thursday 21st February starting at 7pm. Tickets £45 each. This is excellent value for a top notch dining experience.
Also look out for Gather Restaurant, when the boys can firm their roots and offer Fine Dining in the heart of Totnes, due to open in the Spring.
Contact: 07753 470825 – text only
This is a sponsored post. The opinions expressed in this blog were not influenced by Gather. This article was not seen before publication.