We kept things simple by opting for the set dinner with accompanying wines. A selection of small starters including crab toast, chickweed, lemon; breaded lamb, green sauce (deliciously crunchy and tangy) and, particularly memorable, wild mushrooms, parfait, walnuts – a luscious autumnal combination. These were great with a naturally made Chenin from Touraine in the Loire Valley, Clos du Tue-Boeuf Touraine Petit Buisson.
My friend Neil had the main on the set menu – Tamworth pork, fennel, beetroot, celeriac, purple kale and I had the special, roast mallard. Both dishes were cooked fashionably rare (I must say, I do get a bit squeamish about under-cooked pork, but it tasted beautifully tender and flavoursome). The mallard was rich and gamey, if a little bloody, but it came with more of the gorgeous parfait. I'd cooked mallard at home recently so I couldn't help comparing it with this, but our glasses of Blaufrankisch did both dishes real justice with its earthy fruit and crisp acidity.
We nibbled some cheese and sipped some amazingly mature Rivesaltes (Château Sisquelle 1946 – a bargain at £8 for a 50ml glass) before finishing with an elegant slice of clementine and almond tart with cream and grapy, refreshing Moscatel from Malaga in southern Spain, 2007 Bentomiz 'Ariyanas Naturalmente Dulce'. A great end to an excellent meal.
The set dinner costs £35 and the fascinating selection of wines is affordably priced with small margins. As soon as you walk through the door you feel you are in safe hands and it was a pleasure to be eased through our meal a such a charmingly capable manner. Just go for it. (Which is what we did – despite me leaving my wallet at home and arriving red-faced, so a huge thank you to Neil for treating me!)
*Will Lander is the son of Jancis Robinson and Nick Lander, ex-restaurateur, consultant and Financial Times columnist, so quite a pedigree.