As we arrived at Verveine, we were welcomed through the fishmonger’s shop at the front, which is also owned by chef and proprietor David Wykes. The fishmonger was a very promising sight – Adrian preps all the fresh fish for the restaurant and I could tell we were in for a treat. Once we were seated, restaurant manager Sally explained that we could dine from the à la carte menu or go all out with the blind tasting menu. We opted for the tasting menu, with a choice of up to ten course. The service was impeccable; sous chef Helen even came to our table to discuss any dietary requirements we might have.
To start, we were treated to an enchanting amuse-bouche created to look like a raw egg but with a hidden surprise inside. Our first dish arrived at the table under a glass cloche shrouded in smoke. Our excitement built as the delicate smoked eel mousse with roast chicken skin, brown sauce and beer-pickled onion was revealed; its richness was balanced perfectly with the sweet onion and sharp sauce. Our next course of scallops with lava bread, porridge and Alsace bacon was a delight. The sweet scallops were perfectly caramelised and complemented the unique savoury porridge.
Our third course comprised Mediterranean octopus, blood orange, pickled fennel and Campari on the Rocks. Next, we were treated to langoustine with smoked Parmesan agnolotti pasta and celeriac. This dish was the ultimate result of combining fine dining with comfort food. This was followed by West Country turbot with ponzu sauce, puffed rice and Japanese artichokes. The main highlight was the fillet of turbot, which was fresh as could be and came from the fishmonger next door.
Next up came a bowl of lemon sherbet and liquorice ice cream – the perfect match of sharp lemon and aniseed flavours was a nostalgic palate-cleansing delight. Our final course was The Violet Beauregarde, a dessert inspired by the namesake in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Flavours of blueberries, bubble gum and violet in various forms, including an edible excerpt from the book and bubble gum scented water, were poured over the bowl and smoke began to bellow over our table releasing with it a beautiful aroma. Verveine presents sublime food that is fun and innovative and most of all, exciting to eat. We enjoyed carefully crafted, creative dishes in relaxed surrounds and left singing the award-winning restaurant’s praises.