Reviewed in Feast issue 41 – November 2019
You’re greeted by smiling faces as you walk into Brasted’s and somehow immediately know that you’re in safe hands. The restaurant, set in the pretty village of Framingham Pigot, is famed for its superlative front of house service as much as for its great food – and has been for more than 30 years.
It’s now run by Nick Mills, who has worked there man and boy, becoming managing director 20 years ago, and executive chef Chris ‘Buzz’ Busby whose relationship with the restaurant dates back to 1996. So they are a passionate and dedicated pair, now helped by general manager Sian de Waal and restaurant manager Ashley Bush.
My husband and I celebrated the departure of our youngest to university with a mid week dinner, toasting her success and stopping me from getting too ‘empty nest’ about it all! Three courses are £48 while four courses are £56, which includes canapés, amuse bouches and pre-desserts.
I started my evening with a Brasted’s Bramble, a very moreish cocktail of gin, lemon juice and Crème du Mûre, while he had a pint of Adnams’ Ghost Ship. We nibbled on canapés, including very nice courgette frites with tzatziki, as we inspected the menu which brims over with local produce – Buzz is especially keen on game and has great relationships with local shooting estates, which guarantees high quality birds.
We moved from the comfy bar area, (noting the near-legendary piano which had pride of place in the original Brasted’s, on St Andrew’s Hill in the city, now the home of Bishops), to the restaurant. The whole place is decorated in opulent style, with the walls a deep red, exposed brickwork, period furniture and those essential crisp white tablecloths.
There are about six choices per course, and dishes are elaborate affairs, which display high levels of technical ability and push culinary boundaries. And we should mention the wine list, nay wine directory, which bulges with choices for even the most sophisticated of palates.
After an amuse-bouche of little haddock fishcakes, I selected a roasted vegetable mille-feuille, prettily presented with cauliflower purée and pickled carrot and cucumber. Flavours were clear and sharp. A good beginning. Himself also went veggie, with a Portobello mushroom and spinach tart, enhanced with baby turnips, celeriac purée, crispy leeks and enoki mushrooms.
Other choices included pan seared cod cheeks and seared calves’ livers, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the home made tomato and garlic focaccia and its tarragon butter.
We didn’t opt for a fish course but ploughed on with our mains – beef fillet for me, with a garlic potato fondant, roasted parsnip purée, spinach gel, oyster mushrooms and a beef jus. It carried a £3 supplement and was worth it! My knife slipped through the meat with consummate ease, and I loved dipping and testing the accompanying bits and bobs.
My husband had North Sea brill fillet, served with celeriac fondant, pea emulsion, saffron aioli, watercress pesto and crevette reduction. Wow! It zinged off the plate with all those textures and flavours.
Wild duck and venison steamed pudding were other choices, alongside two vegetarian dishes, including an aubergine and basil sponge of which I had a little portion, just to try.
We also shared plenty of seasonal vegetables, and I had a glass of Winbirri’s Pinot Noir rosé, one of my favourites and all the better for being produced just a few miles away.
Desserts are, for my money, one of Buzz’s real strengths. After a banana mousse pre dessert, I had a squidgy peach panacotta with peach purée, biscotti crumb and an almond tuile which was great fun. He went for chocolate, of course, in the shape of a mint chocolate whip, white chocolate ganache, milk chocolate dust and a peppermint sorbet.
Suffice to say, all the dishes are prepared with considerable skill and served with panache. Brasted’s, which holds 2 AA Rosettes, offers thoughtful fine dining, and gets you excited about food: what is on the menu this time? What has chef come up with this time? What new taste combinations are there to try?
Then it was back to the lounge for dainty chocolates, fudges and Turkish Delight; I had a strongish latte and he sipped on a mint tea. And as we rubbed our rather full bellies, we thought, albeit briefly, of our daughter, no doubt tucking into a Pot Noodle or beans on toast in her student kitchen. Her time will come!
Brasted’s is well known as an events and catering company, with its own wedding and event suite at Framingham Pigot and also a further venue at Langley Abbey, in lovely countryside near Loddon. There are also six boutique bedrooms at Brasted’s Lodge, Framingham Pigot.