I presume being ethicurean is something that happens when sound ethics meet epicureanism, which has, rightly or wrongly (wrongly), come to mean pursuit of pleasure through food and drink.
Morally justifiable hedonism then. Sounds right up our street.
The Ethicurean has existed, virtually on my doorstep, since 2010. Set up in the old glass houses of the walled, kitchen garden of a once grand estate, by self taught chefs, in the beautiful Somerset countryside.
The crops spill down the hillside from the dining room. Neat rows of organic vegetables soak up the spring sunshine as apple blossom flutters to the ground in the orchard beyond. The views across the valley are stupendous, even for a seasoned admirer of the Mendips.
It is, simply put, the perfect place for a preprandial stroll, peering into the vegetable rows whilst enjoying the odd waft of what's to come, from the kitchen. Ideal to drink in the scenery, as your stomach begins to rumble. Take your gran. Wheel her round in her bath chair. It's right up her street.
The restaurant itself looks out into the vegetable gardens, and out over that view. It's a very comfortable place to be. The food is comforting too. That's not to say its comfort food exactly. The menu is created with great understanding of the ingredients being used; born, I can only imagine, of a lot of experimentation. The end results are hearty and rich, with little flares of refinement.
Warming and flavoursome smoked potato and leek soup was the perfect starter for a damp afternoon. Catherine felt differently, and opted for pan-fried shitakes with smoked mushroom ketchup. She may have been right.
The menu changes daily and, being closely related to the kitchen garden, is completely seasonal. Specialists in preserving the bounties of the land, The Ethicurean's spring dishes consist of the joys of the previous harvest, beautifully pickled and proudly presented alongside the best of the day's produce.
12 hr pork belly with vanilla pickled red pippin, carrot and cumin, burnt onion and apple and "leek oil".
I know right?
It was as good as it sounds.
Cornish cod and mussels with fennel and pine puree was also excellent.
Whenever we review a restaurant, I always try to find things I dislike, be that aesthetic, atmospheric, environmental or anything that detracts from the experience as a whole.
Well, it rained a bit. Could have done without that.
The toilet is outside. Not a huge problem.
Desserts were mostly cakes. Presumably the same ones you can order if you pop in for tea or coffee.
Economically sensible I'm sure, but to finish a meal that combined tradition with innovation and teased the senses with some genuinely good cooking, a lump of cake seemed anti-climactic.
And that’s it. The only problem. I have a sweet tooth. It pissed me off.
But seriously, I really buy into the Ethicurean ethos. Wonderful dishes from home grown produce, and creative cooking with native flavours, inevitably leading to incredible seasonality, born both of necessity, and The Ethicurean’s founding principles to remain loyal to the landscape they inhabit.
A little piece of South West ‘terroir’. Beautiful.
The Ethicurean, Barley Wood Walled Garden, Bristol
N.B. We booked and paid for lunch at The Ethicurean ourselves, and all opinions are our own.