|This is Steve. Hi Steve.|
This time, they invited us back for a very special day for one up and coming young chef. Jamie Henfrey has only been at the Parcel Yard for a year, but already he's come a long way and has bagged himself a promotion. Barely old enough to drink, Jamie has been given free reign to develop his own menu - an incredible opportunity for a new professional.
So, was Jamie's food up to the mark? Well, the first challenge for me was to make a selection from the yummy sounding starters. The menu had a great sense of choice and balance which meant that they all sounded extremely tempting. In the end, I opted to go for the Scallop Chowder as I thought it would be a nice counterpoint to the traditional chowder and soda bread I had eaten in Ireland recently.
The Boy was tempted by the chicken meatball dish, The chicken was tempered by a hit of fresh coriander and matched beautifully with a sweet chilli sauce that was thick and unctuous. Garnished with micro-salad leaf of the moment, the pea shoot, the dish was very pretty to look at and matched with well cooked meatballs which were tender and retained good flavour. I don't get the pea shoot thing though. They are really hard to cram into your mouth with any dignity whatsoever. That's hardly Jamie's fault though, just my observation really.
My chowder arrived and smelled heavenly. The soup was a good thickness and full of rustically chopped hearty vegetables. The creaminess of the soup and sweetness of the vegetables complemented the lightly seared scallops really well and made for a satisfying dish. It was served with warm bread rolls and butter and I think my only criticism was that it was possibly a little too much for a starter! I know, I don't normally complain about having too much food... But it was definitely a meal in itself.
On to the mains and by this time the kitchen were showing the strain of the special menu and still serving the regular bar menu, so we had a little bit of a wait ahead of us. This would have been no problem if we didn't have a limited time frame to get into town to watch the Leicester-Man Utd game! As it was, we ended up one of the many that were queuing outside the pub to get in, missing the first 10 minutes of the match... But I'm sure that Jamie will have had something of a baptism of fire running a kitchen on this scale for the first time.
My choice for main was a chicken breast, poached delicately in white wine and served with a cream, leek and smoked bacon sauce and fresh new potatoes. You'd have to go a long way to find a dish that suits my tastes more than that! I did find the sauce was a little underseasoned for my taste, but the chicken breast was cooked really well - moist and light, but still with a crisp to the skin. The whole dish was something I could happily eat every day forever I think. Really homely, hug-on-a-plate kind of food, but with excellent quality ingredients and a light touch to the cooking and presentation.
The Boy couldn't resist tasting the award winning Owen Taylor 10oz steak and he was not disappointed. The sirloin was of an incredible quality and cooked perfectly rare, as requested. This was matched with really well cooked chunky chips which were crisp and crunchy with a meltingly soft interior. A grilled tomato and portobello mushroom were also there, again nicely cooked and finally, an absolute tower of the biggest homemade onion rings I have ever seen!
Unsurprisingly, The Boy couldn't make his way through it all - we had to get it boxed so that he could get a nice pudding for you to have a look at (he managed to eat all of that, and a bit of mine as well as memory serves). He opted for the raspberry pavlova, which was sort of a deconstructed affair with honey flavoured cream and whisky soaked raspberries. He informed me that he couldn't really get the whisky flavour, but other than that it was a perfect dish - which is quite a complement coming from a very infrequent pudding eater.
My dessert was braeburn apple crumble, which had the most wonderful crumble topping made with mixed nuts, which had loads of texture and again stacks of homely, comforting flavours. Served with a slowly melting vanilla ice cream, this was another classic dish that Jamie executed confidently and well.
A stellar performance in all then, I'm sure you'll agree. For such a young chef to develop such an attractive menu, handle these great quality ingredients so delicately and to present everything so consistently well, I would guess Jamie is going to go far, especially with the truly admirable support and opportunity that his employers at Steamin' Billy are giving him. His inexperience only showed in the time that service took, but I think that is totally understandable and only something you can learn with time. I shall keep my eye on this young lad - I wonder if he'll invite us along when he gets his first Michelin star?
Thanks to the Parcel Yard for inviting us down to review the menu and thanks to our lovely waitress who gave us fantastic service as well as some top banter while we were there. We couldn't have been better looked after.