I've been meaning to go down and check out (Masterchef winner) Mat's restaurant ever since it opened in June, and with my job @ Nahm looming large i knew if i didn't get down there soon it might be a while before i'd have chance.
So v.early Friday morning I jumped on a train from Waterloo to Crewkerne (the nearest station) to spend 24hrs @ thewildgarlic - help out in the kitchen, taste the food and generally make a nuisance of myself! Nice. And, as expected, it was great.... Beaminster is a lovely little town (or village??) in the beautiful Dorset countryside.
It really struck me that Mat's place fits in there brilliantly, while at the same time doing something a bit new and different, which is no mean feat methinks. The food was lovely and the place buzzed with atmosphere at both lunch and dinner.
In addition to their cooking skill, the team at thewildgarlic get hold of some really top ingredients (think seafood, really funky wild salads and so on). A winning formula.
You can also see Mat's style and philosophy throughout the whole set up...from the type of ingredients the use, the way the menu chalked up on the blackboard changes according to what's good...through to the decor, funky tables and the the really affable and enthusiastic team in the kitchen and front of house.
I helped out in the kitchen a bit for lunch service and then in the evening I stuck a dish on the menu and Mat gave his sous chef Heather a surprise night off (proving not all head chefs are bastards by inviting her boyfriend and surprising her with a free meal no less!). Service went well with lots of nice comments about Mat's food coming back to the kitchen from front of house.
Finished with an apres service pint in the local pub ...where Mat can oft be found chatting to some of his many local fans.
Mat's very proud of his food and restaurant, rightly so I say.
But don't take my word for it! Book a table, get down there and try for yourselves: www.thewildgarlic.co.uk
Some pics below....
Mat's place (fully booked sign gets a lot of action!)
The funky tables:
Man himself chatting to couple of fans after lunch:
The chalked-up menu...different treats on there everyday:
Super fresh scallops with seaweed, radish and microherbs:
More tasty seafood: John Dory with caper butter and mad wild salad:
Staff lunch: pork belly, wild herb n flower salad an some tatties.
My dish on the menu that eve: a pretty simple number - some of Mat's uber fresh squid steamed for about 15 seconds and served with Thai style grilled coconut relish, Vietnamese herbs and a wedge of lime.
And finally... a snap of me with one of Mat's famous spider crabs - they get served with aioli, and diners get stuck in cracking their own. Tasty stuff.
i'm looking a little bemused / nervous because i'd just been tasked with 'fingering it' (unsurprisingly my technique left room for improvement)!