This is my second year going to Taste and I was so looking forward to it! It’s one of the highlights of Summer and I’ve been eagerly poring over the menus since they came out.
I’ve just returned home and I’m pleased to say it was as great as last year. We were lucky enough to have blue skies and sunshine for the whole session. As usual, I shared most of my dishes so that I could try more so here’s a summary of the dishes we had and what I thought.
First stop was Ember Yard’s slow cooked octopus, prawn and padron pepper pinchos, heritage tomatoes and crispy chickpeas. £7.
This was really tasty and the octopus was perfectly cooked. My partner has family from Galicia where they’re known for their octopus so he has high standards and luckily this lived up to them.
At the next block of restaurants we walked past, some of our group had the icon dish from The Manor (a restaurant that I’m yet to get to but that’s been on my list to try for ages! [Update Sept 17: I went! Review here] ). They’re one of the daily special restaurants for Thursday so they won’t be there all weekend but their icon dish was smoked Swaledale lamb shoulder with courgette, basil and olive (£9 with wine pairing). It was apparently so good that it was one of the group’s favourite overall dish of the day.
Next we spied Pierre Herme Paris’ macarons and opted for their signature assortment – a mint and garden pea one, a passion fruit, rhubarb and strawberry one and a Meadowsweet and Corsican honey one (£5). I was sceptical that garden pea and mint would be nice as a macaron but actually it was really delicate and refreshing. The fruit one was my favourite and the honey one wasn’t too sickly – definitely worth picking up. Their pistachio ice cream was lovely too.
Next up was Bala Baya where we chose The Filthy – a sticky beef short rib, crunchy potato, sweetcorn and mustard mayo, chilli relish and homemade pitta (£7). This was hands down the best dish of the day for me and definitely gets my vote for Best Taste Dish. The beef just melted in your mouth and was so soft it just fell apart, the flavours worked perfectly. Their other options looked good too.
When walking past Jamavar, the spices smelt amazing so we went in and tried their icon dish – butter chicken tawa pulao (£10). The spices were lovely, not too hot and really tasty but for a dish called butter chicken, there was barely any chicken and a lot of rice. We only had 3 small pieces of chicken in the whole bowl. For one of the more expensive icon dishes we tried, I didn’t think it was worth it for essentially a big bowl of rice, even if it was tasty enough.
Handily, next door were M and Bubbledogs, both of which our group wanted to try. One person in the group had Bubbledog’s Hound Dog (smoked beef frankfurter, steamed roll, BBQ sauce, bourbon caramelised onions) which apparently was good. My partner had M’s lamb shoulder with lamb rib, lamb glaze, pumpkin puree, smoked potato and crispy shallots and loved it. They said it was a contender for their Best Taste Dish.
My first proper dessert of the day came from Vanilla Black’s icon dish. It was a chocolate mousse with cep mushroom fudge, brioche and lavender honeycomb. The mousse was delicious and really chocolatey but the mushroom fudge was really strong and the mousse had these weird slices of almost jellied mushrooms in it which I was not a fan of. There was no brioche to be seen, instead there was a nice, but slightly odd textured, biscuit. Though I did enjoy the mousse, this dish felt like it was trying too hard to be different and for me it just didn’t work and left a really odd lavender/mushroom taste in my mouth.
By now we were starting to get full and had to make the difficult decision of which last dish we could manage. I made a beeline for Balls & Company’s squid ink arancini with aioli and chorizo crumb. This was a close contender for Best Taste Dish for me, I really enjoyed them and they weren’t all that dissimilar in flavour to Jose’s squid ink croquettas that we had at Giant Robot a few weeks ago.
After lounging in the sun and relaxing for a bit with a jug of Pimms on the top deck of their bus, I decided that I did actually have room for an ice cream. There was a lot of ice cream to choose from at Taste this year but I chose one with no natural flavourings, additives or colouring etc. It was a Dorset company called Purbeck and they had some lovely flavours. I went for mint choc chip because you barely ever find one without green colouring and flavourings whilst the others had a berry and clotted cream one and a vanilla bean one. It was wonderfully refreshing and the perfect end to the day in the sun.
Even though there were lots of restaurants, there were definitely less stalls and exhibitors this year – one of the exhibitors from Winter Taste said that they’d put the stall prices up a lot this year so maybe that had something to do with it. Other bits and bobs we bought included some lovely triple chocolate cookie dough from The Cookie Dough Co and some chocolatey puddings from Pots & Co. Let me know what you tried and enjoyed if you go!
Comment and let me know what you choose if you go this weekend!