This week I've been eating... the ‘Surprise menu’ at The Pass
At Matt Gillan’s Michelin-starred restaurant, The Pass, at the South Lodge Hotel, East Sussex, there isn’t so much a kitchen table – the vogue of recent years – as much as a kitchen restaurant. All of it, 22 seats in all, are in the kitchen. In fact the dining room and kitchen are as of one, all zen-like.
You sit along one wall on a series of raised tables, the seat that’s facing the wall, rather than the kitchen, still has a view though: there are television screens showing the action abovethe banquettes.
It’s tasting menus only. There are three: the Gourmet Experience, the Pass Experience and the Surprise menu. I opted for the Surprise and it was just that with multi-component dishes that took traversed textures of Jersey Royals, proper pink duck, bream, soft-as-a-kiss pork and strawberry dessert. All the adroitness of a London restaurant minus the pretence. southlodgehotel.co.uk
Can it really be? Has the great temple of masculinity, bloodiness and cow that is the Hawksmoor gone all soft? At its Spitalfields branch it is to introduce a veggie burger. The Chana Masala Burger is a tribute to a now-defunct curry house on Brick Lane and would be wholly vegan if there wasn’t butter in the brioche bun.
Also making an almost inconceivable debut is a fillet o’ fish made with whiting and jalapeno tartare. Not to worry, though – it’s still keeping the pulled pork bun and chicken wings, too.thehawksmoor.com
Having suffered too often at the can-lip of a warm beer at music festivals it makes me pleased in a special way to hear that Russian Standard Vodka is opening a “Davai House” at Lovebox (19-21 July) and Wilderness (8-11 August) festivals.
Apparently, there will be theatre, dance, music and “cocktail entertainment”, which I think roughly translates as “proper real drinks for grown-ups”.The beverages will all be riffs on the Moscow mule. Question is does wanting a cocktail at a festival make me too boring to go to one? russianstandardvodka.com
Half and half
Twinings has been brewing tea for 300 years, so if anyone has a chance of turning us from a nation of breakfast tea drinkers to sippers of herbal infusions it is probably them. Everyone, after all, knows the benefits of green, redbush and peppermint by now. But whether the tea-makers blends of half-herbal and half-caffeinated bags (which, yes, you add milk to) will wean us off our normal cuppa remains to be seen. £2.29, twinings.co.uk
Prestat Chocolate seems to have had a rush of blood to its head about the 60th anniversary of the coronation. It has produced one of the most bonkers boxes I’ve seen – all flags and horse guards. Very trippy. The sea salt chocs within though? Divine. £16.00, prestat.co.uk