Having visited Alchemilla once before and being left slightly smitten, I wanted to return for seconds to see what exciting new combinations they have to offer.
The restaurant has a warm vibe complemented by honey tones lit with lush lighting, candles and tea lights.
The space is mellow with a tangerine orange worktop decorated with autumnal squashes and pumpkins.
Alchemilla’s menu offers up a sharing style of food, designed to choose two dishes per person and to share around the table. The dishes are bold in delivering new fusions of flavour.
It seemed only right to start the evening off with the restaurant’s renowned homemade focaccia, served warm and crisp and salty.
We choose the ‘Ciello’ Sicilian white wine, fresh and fruity with grapefruit and almond blossom.
The first dish is cucumber, chilli fry & shallots (£4.50). So simple yet so delicious. The fresh slices of cucumber are jazzed up with chilli oil and a subtle caramelised onion flavour from the crispy shallots. There was a soft woody flavour from the addition of toasted almonds.
Then comes the sea bass tartare, chilli & lemon (£8.50) – only three ingredients, but boy oh boy does it pack a punch. I would say my favourite from the evening.
The sea bass was diced into small pieces and served with chilli and lemon, no gimmicks, no frills. The natural saltiness from the fish with citrus was overall so delicate and effective.
Next on the cards, cauliflower, tahini yogurt, pistachio, pomegranate & parsley (£7.50). The dish is served surprisingly warm, similar flavour to cauliflower cheese with the same richness without being too heavy.
Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds and similar in taste to peanut butter. Every component had a different texture that contrasted, and yet they fit together.
Served up to follow was the pigeon, radicchio, shallots, hazelnuts and chives (£10).
The pigeon was extremely tender and rich, it melted in the mouth. The pigeon had a subtle earthly woodland taste. The red cabbage added a bitterness that the dates cut through and added a fruity sweetness.
Of course, to finish with something sweet is necessary especially when propositioned with such enticing choices.
Chocolate cremoso, honeycomb & hazelnuts (£7). Warm toasted salted hazelnuts and honeycomb together is perfectly crunchy, chewy and sweet.
Alchemilla impressed yet again. Every dish is well portioned with flavours that speak for themselves. There is a relaxed elegance in the flow of service, the food comes freshly prepared and whenever it is ready.
The naturalness of the few ingredients on the plate is creatively inspiring. I remain excited to see what they serve up next.
Homemade focaccia and chilli oil
I wanted to try out making my own chilli oil which was the perfect opportunity to use the chillies growing on my plant at home.
- I used a cup of vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat and added in a generous amount of chillies as they were small and I wanted my chilli oil to have a nice kick to it. I added two teaspoons of chilli flakes.
- Stir the chillies until they start to quietly sizzle, this takes a few minutes.
- Then take the pan off the heat and let cool before storing in a sealed jar. Once cooled give the jar a good ol’ shake to disperse the chillies and then use when you so desire.
- Now it’s time to get bread making. Make sure to set aside plenty of time to bake because the dough needs time to rest in between kneading.
- Begin by mixing 500g strong white bread flour with two teaspoons of salt, two sachets of yeast, two tablespoons of olive oil and 300ml of water into a large bowl.
I find it best to combining the ingredients together with your hands in a stirring motion. Continue to mix for 5 minutes gradually adding in 100ml more water to the mixture as you go.
* After making sure the dough has all the ingredients fully combined, move the dough onto an oiled worktop and continue to knead for five minutes.
Don’t panic if think the dough is too wet or stretchy, it is meant to have that sort of consistency.
- Put the dough back into the bowl and cover it up to prove for around 30 minutes, it should be around double the size in this time.
- Tip the dough out onto a baking tray. I didn’t have parchment paper so I buttered aluminium foil instead and it seemed to do the trick.
Try your best to spread out the dough as evenly as possible and into the corners, at this point I still found my dough very sticky but I assure you to trust the process.
- Leave the dough on the baking tray for an hour, this allows the dough to have a final rest and rise before going into the oven.
- When it’s time to bake, you need to have your oven preheated at 220 degrees. Drizzle your loaf with some olive oil, add some salt and pepper on top. I also added some chilli flakes and fresh rosemary.
- The loaf doesn’t take long, around 20 minutes until cooked through and crisp.
I was really happy I managed to achieve a gorgeous golden colour on the loaf at my first focaccia attempt.
Baking your homemade bread is definitely worth the extra effort, it tastes that more delicious knowing you made it from scratch.