Friday 4 April 2014

The Joys of Creating a Menu

Our Head Chef, William Britton has been working here at the Abbots Barton now for 7 months, and during this time he has created a new bar snack menu which offers a great selection of sandwiches and baguettes along with hot dishes such as slow cooked old spot Gloucester Ribs and a trio of mini burgers. You also have options of cheese or seafood platters which are great for sharing and much more.

William has also worked with his brigade to create our seasonal dinner menus, and has most recently been putting the finishing touches to the Spring menu. We thought it might be nice to give you an insight into the creation of one of the new dishes...

Pan seared King Scallops with curried cauliflower purée, crispy shallot rings and tomato salad.

Good start, needs work...
The whole process starts with William getting all the chefs together and sitting down with them to discuss ideas. He will give the team an insight into the types of meats and fish he would like to see on the menu, taking into account the season we are coming into. Ideas will be brainstormed over the course of a week and an outline of a menu will be formed. As with all these things, the ultimate decision of what gets trialled to go on the menu will be down to the Head Chef, but all ideas and suggestions from his team are considered. Where there is a good base for a dish, William will work with his team to develop the initial idea and turn it into something that they are confident our diners will enjoy.

As with any new idea, it's not always straight forward when it comes down to the cooking and plating of the dish. Like all things, sometimes what you see in your minds eye doesn't always transfer well in reality. William will work on the dish to make any changes to ingredients or presentation and experiment with different serving plates keeping the team involved during the whole process.

 This particular dish took 4 attempts and a lot of washing up before they got it just right.

Still missing something...
The scallops and the cauliflower curried purée went really well together and the tomato salad added texture, colour and a sweetness to the dish, however William and the team agreed something was missing. Just a little added extra was needed to bring the dish in flavour and presentation together. So after some thought another cauliflower was produced and William pickled some small florettes. A tiny addition they may be, but what a difference it made to the dish and saved Chef from going grey to soon!

Once this stage is reached, then comes the costing and writing of the menu. The aim is for the menu to explain clearly what each dish contains and what its local connections are, for instance it might contain local Ashmore Cheddar or be a cut of local lamb.

Once the Head Chef is happy with the menus and all the new dishes a copy is sent to the directors
for finalisation.

At long last, the launch day of the new menu arrives and the restaurant team, kitchen team and head of departments are gathered for a tasting of all dishes. This is such an important part of the final process as it's a chance for the whole team to see how each dish must be presented to ensure consistency. It is also key as staff need to know what they taste like, so when asked by a customer they can answer honestly and with confidence.

At long last the dish is complete!
I think you will appreciate that the process of creating a new menu can be time consuming and isn't just a case of throwing some ingredients together. William and his team strive to provide you with a delicious menu, serving local and ethically sourced produce wherever possible and their passion for food is unquestionable. We hope you will stop in and try the latest menu out for yourselves.

With thanks to Willam Britton, Head Chef, for his help in creating this post.

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