In his latest article, Lancashire restaurant and food critic, Anders Merrycorn samples the unusual menu at Le Raconteur.
Long summer nights inevitably draw one out onto the patio for a little salade com freshe alfresco. But just recently the local farming community has taken to despoiling their fields with the most foul smelling silo concoctions. Forced to wear clothes pegs over our noses, the Thirdrib and I decided to try a new establishment recently opened, slap bang in the epicentre of Lancashire.
Le Raconteur is the third restaurant to be opened by Lancastrian Gerard Garcia, a man with a chef’s hat and two Michelin stars. Adele was in the mood for fish, anything to take her mind off upland livestock, so we booked two places and hoped for a table with an odourless view. Le Rac, as it is already known in these parts, is a converted water pumping station that wears its heritage proudly. The glass floors are initially disconcerting, but once one is confident nothing will rise from the bowels of the old pumping mechanism one can settle back and be pampered by the energetic staff.
Eager to eat we graciously accepted a prima donna to moisten the palate before the menu arrived. Fragrant and lemony, these spriteful little citrus imps tickled the tastebuds and complemented an excellent Sason Blanc 1997. We were surprised to receive a second course, on the house obviously, and had a comfret sample of jasmine petals lightly sauted with a parmesan filigree. An unusual combination, which almost had Adele suspecting the chef knew we were here. (And what we would be writing.)
With precise finality the first course arrived. Black plates and a mattress of seasonal vegetables, lightly drizzled with Moroccan palm oil. The parsnips would have been happier in their skins with a little more ventilation – root vegetables need the circulation from late July onwards – but the stuffed carrots were more than a delight without creating a desire for too much.
We both ordered fish for main courses. Adele went for the John Dory in a sea salt crust whilst I decided to put money on the guppy fritters with chorizo mash. Expecting a publique Mediterraneane I was somewhat disappointed that the chorizo mash was local black pudding with saffron colouring. So one star off there. But it’s hard to fault the food when the Auberge Roussez 2002 is so exotic. It was almost dancing in the glass. We were near euphoric by the time the frites a maison arrived in their hand woven baskets. Those Nepalese farmers really know how to craft a good table ornament and one wonders what they could do with gravy boats.
Dessert was necessarily downplayed; a simple sponge pudding with dusted egg sauce and strawberries served as frozen slices melting into the liquid. (One suggestion here. Do dessert spoons need to be as big as shovels? The human mouth is only so wide.) One would have appreciated a choice of cheeses just to round off the evening, but we were already concerned we might not fit through the door on the way out. Noticeably slimmer was my wallet. £186.50 cannot be considered affordable, but for Michelin starred cuisine one has to be prepared to make the investment and for once hope there is no return. We arrived home to the same filthy smell from the surrounding fields, but for an evening at least there was escape and relief.
Le Raconteur – four out of five
(photocredit – cyclonebill)