The lunch menu has several options including the three course lunch at £35 which has to be considered good value for two star cooking while there is also the 'Tastes of Spring' menu that offers tasting menus of between three and nine courses with dishes selected by the kitchen. They do however give a page in the menu that shows 'what's in season' and for spring, it shows an extensive list of potential ingredients including Yorkshire rhubarb, Wye Valley asparagus, broad bean, black garlic and lamb sweetbreads, all of which would feature on today's actual menu.
We start with the Hibiscus & Pineapple soda which as far as we can tell is enjoyed by all guests at the start of the meal before moving to the full Taste of Spring menu. Despite it feeling more like summer than spring (summer actually starts on 20 June) the menu seemed perfect with dishes showing vibrant greens on the plate and real freshness in the mouth.
We start with Devonshire crab, rhubarb, cardamom, cucumber and green mango. Perfect start on a spring menu, the rhubarb and mango not obvious but the dish itself delivering a spring lightness to the start of the meal. Indeed, throughout the meal citrus/acidity is used to lift the plates including orange with the asparagus and white garlic mixed with lemon with the sweetbreads. It reaches its apogee in a ravioli of spring onion and lime, an incredible ravioli that is paired with broad beans, mint and a purée of the same. There's spherifications of broad bean also.
It's all quite stunning including the lobster with ginger and spring onion and a perfect sweetbread stuffed with black garlic bringing sweet rich tones to the dish. White garlic too makes an appearance, laced as noted with lemon, alternating with more black garlic in small to large gel beads alongside the sweetbread.
And would a vegetable make dessert? Of course it did, as an asparagus cream is served with meringue, coconut sorbet and whey gel. It's a beautiful dessert, the asparagus subtle but present with the flavour, when blended into a dessert so well, extending the palate of what a dessert is or can be. It's why we love Hibiscus.
Asparagus in dessert is on the face of it challenging yet the dessert is not. It is however brilliant and therefore in being original, daring yet still achieved, this dessert, like all the dishes presented here, leaves you satisfied that yes, Hibiscus is the real deal two star. At this level, cooking should be accomplished but original and every plate a treat for the diner: that's exactly what Hibiscus delivers.
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Hibiscus CC 2010 post