Chateau Marmot popup restaurant
Monday, August 20, 2012
Disclosure: I was given a meal ticket for one which also included the cheese course
I got a nice email from Chateau Marmot telling me that their popup restaurant was doing a few days up in the North and wondered whether I’d be interested in writing about it. As it is nearly Mr LTT and I’s third anniversary I thought it would be a nice way to celebrate as our love of food is one of things that we love sharing with one another.
The location was secret until a few days before. We also received an email to let us know that whilst it was BYOB we could pay £14pp for wine matching for each of the 5 courses. I probably would have gone for this had I not had a drink related “incident” last weekend at our work do. Yes, I was THAT employee. Wine is completely off the menu for me, as is all other alcohol until I can stop feeling sick every time I think about it!
When we arrived we discovered that Chateau Marmot was located quite near to The Reliance in an extremely strange set of buildings. Let’s just say the place had been “re-purposed” with the chefs cooking admirably off Calor gas stoves. The decor was a little odd: fairy lights were somewhat haphazardly slung around, a bird cage with some salt and pepper in on one of the other tables and those faux twinkling tealights sprinkled about.
When I got the menu and immediately was scared by several of the items on it. Things like “mackerel foam” and “liquorice dust” – both flavours which don’t sit particularly well on my palate. As a former “terribly” fussy eater (I downgraded myself to “minimally” fussy eater) being presented with a menu where I don’t have a choice puts the fear of god in me. On the other hand, it makes me try things I would never normally try…and possibly like.
I was honestly dying of hunger when we arrived, because I decided I would starve myself for most of the day in preparation. We were at the first sitting (6pm) and although it probably only about 20 minutes until we got served, it felt like a long while as I watched the tables who’d arrived first get served first.
Barncliffe brie wrapped in vine leaves, figs, walnut bread and truffle honey
The brie was nice and warm wrapped inside the vine leaf and the whole combination of fig, brie and honey on the walnut bread was more delicious that eating each bit separately. The vine leaf to brie ratio was working a bit too much in favour of the former but I enjoyed it – I could’ve easily left the leaf. The truffle in the honey was not discernible when paired with the walnut bread but I loved the sweet flavour with the melted cheese.
Yorkshire beef cheeks, red pepper miso, seaweed, mackerel foam
This dish just had such a wow factor when it was presented to me and probably one of my favourites of the whole meal. The beef was just fall apart amazingness and full of flavour. The red miso (Korean, not Japanese, don’t get that mixed up) packed big spicy flavours and I could’ve easily licked the plate that stuff tasted so wonderful. The seaweed and accompanying vegetables were soft but had not lost their integrity. The mackerel foam complimented it nicely, adding a sort of piquant flavour like fish sauce – BUT was definitely not overpowering in the dish.
Poached wild bass, shiso sauce, daikon shoots, sesame, red quinoa
The sea bass was topped with the crunchy quinoa and sesame seeds which gave a nice contrast between the softly poached sea bass, giving it some good texture. The shiso sauce tasted like soy mixed with shaoxing wine and was quite sweet and went nicely with the fish and lovely the crunchy slices of daikon. This dish was also served with tofu unlike any other tofu I’ve ever had. It was very very soft, like barely cooked egg whites. Not really for me but I loved the rest of the dish.
Ginger Pig pork belly, Riggwelter peanut butter, apple celery salad
I was very surprised to see Ginger Pig on the menu because despite Ginger Pig’s farm being located oop here int North, the butchers are only in London. Apparently this pork belly had got its cook on in Chinese master stock for about 4 days so was really looking forward to eating this. The salty amaranth topping was fabulous on the pork but this was unfortunately the only good thing I have to say about this course. I expected the pork to be so incredibly tender after 4 days cooking, but it was quite tough and hard to cut. Peanut butter does not a good accompaniment for porcine dishes make. It was a strange combo to say the least, lifted only by eating a lot of the apple bits to thin the peanut butter.
Ricotta dumpling soup, licquorice dust
I wasn’t sure how this was going to be presented, but the ricotta had a light crunchy coating dusted with cinnamon and liquorice sugar and presented in a summer berry “soup”. It was a bit like a cross between doughnuts and a Paula Deen-esque deep fried cheesecake y’all. It was divine and the liquorice flavour was really mild. The dish smelt like Christmas with all the cinnamon sugar on it, and it worked really well with the tart summer berries which helped to cut through the thick ricotta texture.
As a sort of lure (and being sat right next to them) the cheeses were brought out just before the fifth course and we just could not resist trying some. We just had a one person portion between us to sample the cheeses. We chose Harrogate Blue, Swaledale Goats and Fountains Gold which were served with truffle honey and relishes. The lady told us to try the Harrogate Blue with the truffle honey and my god, it was honestly some of the best cheese I have EVER EVER tried. I was fairly tempted to make off with the rest of the truckle in my handbag.
The hosting and waitressing was extremely good by the way – the staff were well informed and friendly and I didn’t mind the slightly inconvenient Wagamama style social dining experience (if you were couples, you were put on the same table as another couple).
The meal cost £28pp – this included 5 courses – the optional cheese course was extra at £8 for three cheeses per person or £12 per person for the full cheese board. As I mentioned before an optional fully matched wine list was £14pp or you’d pay corkage on wine (beers and soft drinks was free). So a meal for two with the whole caboodle would see you paying over a hundred pounds. I have been thinking about this a lot. Me and Mr LTT went to Fornum & Mason for our first anniversary and paid £100 for a three course lunch with champagne and we were like…totally and undeniably full. I left the popup feeling just about full after six courses – maybe we are just big eaters?
I did enjoy the experience but I think had I paid for two people with all the extras I wouldn’t have felt the same way. When I spend that much money on a meal, it’s for a special occasion in room where the interior design reflects the same level of quality as the dishes and makes it all feel a little more special. That said, I’m still wondering how the heck they are covering their costs as there was so many staff to pay and the band (they had a swing band come and play called Alligator Gumbo who were great), the rent on the place plus wine & food. I’m quite glad that although they offered to pay for both of us to come, I said I would pay for one of us (I would’ve felt bad about it otherwise). The food was fantastic and I would definitely return again – just little more love for the general decor and it would make it feel like it was a classier experience.
Chateau Marmot is coming to Harrogate in September so book it now!
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