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A star is rising in gourmet's galaxy.

THE PLACE La Becasse, 17 Corve Street, Ludlow, Shropshire. T: 01584 872 325

WHY GO Based on the fact that this is nearly in Wales, La Becasse is a bona fide destination restaurant but the four-day car journey from Birmingham is well rewarded.

Will Holland is running his own Michelin-star kitchen at the age of 29. Claude Bosi picked up two stars at the same pitch in Corve Street - then known as Hibiscus - before upping sticks for London. Holland could emulate the Gallic gourmand.

THE PRICE The bullet-proof three course a la carte is pounds 55 (you're also likely to get a chef's appetizer and a pre-dessert). You can opt for two courses for pounds 49, but you'd have to be potty. The epic menu gourmand is only a fiver more than the full a la carte at pounds 60.

As you will have had to change the tyres on your Range Rover to get out here, an additional tenner for two to go gourmand isn't worth a second thought. That said, the menu du jour offers enjoyment and value.

Three courses (with a couple of shot glasses of fun tasters) works out at pounds 26. It's just the ticket for a top-class munch in the country, an affordable family splurge or a discreet liaison you might slip through on expenses.

THE MEAL Courses on the menu du jour come in triplicate - three starters, three mains, three desserts. What's the problem with chefs who offer endless options of mediocrity? They're a menace.

Holland isn't, especially if you don't quote him, which I don't. The day before our visit, he was on the BBC's Saturday Kitchen. He got through an entire show without upsetting anybody, which is remarkable.

So to the starters: asparagus mousse came with a confit pullet egg yolk and a summer truffle dressing while the tomato gazpacho "La Becasse style" looked ravishing, el soupo shot through with a pure distillation of the fruit. I had the jellied pig's head terrine because, well, you've just got to. Like all the dishes, it was perfect, cool, light with a zing injection courtesy of a sauce gribiche and caper berries.

My main course of Moroccan spiced lamb farced with couscous had lovely flavours, the rich meat offset by a tomato, coriander and chickpea salsa and divine smoked aubergine.

Our girls both went for the pan-fried sea trout fillet. Polly, the eldest, declared it the best main course she'd eaten. The trout came with puy lentils, apple puree and a curried veloute that offered total sensory satisfaction.

After giving La Becasse the big sell to Sally, her main course was a solitary blip on a grand occasion. The chargrilled chicken ballotine was with a strawberry and tarragon jus. The constituent parts were good, but made awkward bedfellows.

A pre-dessert featured elderflower and gooseberries. The latter is the only thing I cannot eat. I am told it was lovely, by Livvy, to whom I passed my glass. Traumatised, I had the excellent cheese. The party cleaned up with peach melba - thyme poached with raspberries, meringue and vanilla ice cream. Later, Holland gave me a scoop of his iced strawberry parfait with Pimms jelly and sweet cucumber foam. I should have had it. Divine.

THE VERDICT Exemplary cooking, superb value. If Holland doesn't get a second Michelin star, I'll eat my gooseberries.


Head Chef Will Holland at the Michelin starred restaurant La Becasse.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 14, 2009
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