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A gastro gamble that has paid off for Glynn.

Byline: Paul Fulford

THE dangers are obvious when a chef with Glynn Purnell's reputation opens a second restaurant.

Ensuring high standards are maintained is a challenge when you have one place, but how much harder that must be when you have two.

Especially since diners will compare the new gaff with the original.

Thus the launch of the Asquith represented a gamble for Glynn.

And I confess a feeling of trepidation when I visited for I'm a great admirer of his food and hoped that admiration wouldn't be undermined by an ill-advised new venture.

Oh me of little faith! The Asquith, although in its infancy, is already operating at a very high level indeed.

Don't expect 'Purnell's Lite'. The food bears his hallmark in that it's sometimes playful and invariably well-crafted.

But the brigade he's installed in Asquith's kitchen has imposed its own stamp.

The dishes are rather more robust than those at the flagship place and less complex. But there's still plenty of finesse.

So a glass of celeriac and apple veloute with celery oil packed a surprisingly manful punch without being overbearing.

And my starter of poached hen's egg with chorizo, goats cheese foam and potato crisps was a sturdy but beguiling combination of flavours and textures, each of the components treated with respect and skill.

There was great craft and no little imagination at work, too, in my main course of braised ox cheek with puy lentils, seared foie gras, brioche crumbs, pomme puree and a jus of real quality.

Here was a dish packed with savoury flavours kept in check by the sweetness of the crumbs and the unannounced presence of perky lemon oil.

The dessert to which I progressed was, I think, the standout dish of the evening.

Chocolate moelleux was a brittle shell containing melting chocolate - its bitterness cleverly offset by caramelised banana of such astonishing sweetness and audacious saltiness that a mouthful delivered something akin to an electric shock. In a nice way, of course. With a scattering of peanuts adding extra flavour and texture, this was a truly memorable and accomplished combo.

I ate at the Asquith with my wife and teenage son and neither had anything but the highest praise for the various dishes they ate.

A bottle of Loire red and a couple of soft drinks were included in the bill.

Service throughout the meal was efficient and friendly.

Glynn's fans won't be disappointed by this place.

Verdict How much? pounds 168 for three Vegetarians? Options Child friendly? Yes Disabled access? Fine Parking? On street Go back? With delight

CAPTION(S):

Top class: Head chef Jason Eaves at The Asquith.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Oct 29, 2010
Words:440
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