Here’s a look at some of the new dishes being developed at the Michelin-starred Cross at Kenilworth.
They were tasted by customers during one of the pub-restaurant’s Project Nights, when the kitchen brigade show-off their latest ideas.
Inevitably, some of the dishes will fall by the wayside and others will be altered as award-winning head chef Adam Bennett and his team strive for perfection.
Indeed, it was fascinating that the plating-up of some of the dishes that reached me – I was among the later diners – had been refined from the versions served to people nearby.
A soothing bowl of the salt cod emulsion brandade served with a mayonnaise fragrant with saffron and tiny crisps made from rathe potatoes was the highlight here.
Good, too, were the rolls made from smoked duck wrapped around melon.
Here was the evening’s most delicate dish – slivers of the tender, sweet Japanese fish hamachi served raw with enlivening slivers of fennel and an even more enlivening sprinkling of the Bangladeshi citrus gondhoraj. There was balance and elegance, but I wasn’t convinced by the slices of strawberry on the plate.
Retro pike mousseline
For me, one of the night’s triumphs – a dish evolved from the great tradition of classical French cooking.
Nicely textured and beautifully flavoured creamed pike enveloped sweet and punchy crab meat. On top sat tiny rounds of al dente courgette. Around lay a vibrant bisque-style sauce and a buttery crescent of puff pastry.
Knives and forks were ignored and finger bowls requested for this gorgeous brave dish.
Meltingly tender pig meat, still on the bone, had been panéed perfectly. The contrast of the crunchy exterior and the soft pork within was a joy.
A few young dandelion leaves added crispness and bitterness, a lavender mustard gave exotic floral notes.
This was refined pub food of the highest order.
Potatoes potatoes potatoes
Yep… what it says on the tin. But more.
Spuds came as a luxurious pommel puree made with buttermilk, which added a note of acidity. There were tiny new potatoes and a beautifully crisp spud trellis.
Around it lay a jus of impeccable depth given loads of umami punch by bullets of black truffle.
A garnish of leaves and flowers contributed freshness.
This was a a dish that, I thought, with the addition of a slice of protein somewhere, would grace the menu.
Barbecue short rib
Two chunks of beef, smokey, succulent and tender, came with sweet romano red pepper, sweetcorn in parts blacked and a kohlrabi coleslaw full of that vegetable’s cabbagy depth.
A bowl of beans with chorizo came as a side.
This was a dish with many high points but not one to me that yet seemed entirely coherent.
A pre-dessert that was a sort of riff on a healthy Greek breakfast to which not-so-healthy Greek pastry had been added.
It was stunning.
Fresh fig had been turned into a compote, dried into a puree and came with zingy yoghurt, pistachios and a crisp topping of strings of Greek pastry drizzled with light Kenilworth honey.
This type of chocolate, double-fermented with passion fruit, I believe, has an interesting depth and fruity notes.
Here it was served as a soft, melting mousse served with glorious alphonso mango and, to rein-in the sweetness, a seasoning of salt and dressing of virgin rapeseed oil.
This was a combination that was perfectly balanced and a delightful end to the meal.
16 New St, Kenilworth CV8 2EZ. 01926 853840.