This new branch of Field restaurants is in the heart of Stockbridge, in the premises of the old Buffalo Grill. While it still has the word Grill in its name, there is very different vibe now.
Walls with half panelled wood are painted in a soothing grey green that is repeated on the chairs’ upholstery and contrasts sharply with their dark wood. Window seats allow for a smart seating increase in this narrow space. The calm atmosphere is cheekily broken by some animal artwork that comprises heads of farmyard beasts on one wall and a comic juxtaposing of four different beasts that if shoved together would easily create two new creatures from a dystopian world. Carnivores can smile but maybe vegetarians might cringe at this reminder of the protein source!
With water brought unbidden to the table and orders placed, a wooden platter holding slim slices of warm malty bread served arrived with a generous dish of butter. We three tinkled the rather lovely glasses in a toast with our chosen bottle of Côtes de Gascogne Colombard Sauvignon that was soft and fruity with a clean, pleasing tang as we chatted before our starters arrived.
When they did, they reminded us of miniature works of art, so well and enticingly were they presented. “Looks great on a plate!” sums it up. A vegetarian haggis held a perfectly cooked egg with soft yolk and firm white in a crisp light coating that made a mouth-watering Scotch egg (a dish that has come back on menus and in to favour thanks to imaginative chefs) served with tarragon cream cheese and mustard cress. A delicate strip of mackerel came with beetroot, goat’s cheese, rum and raisin and walnuts made a tasty and colourful dish and the duck liver parfait whose velvet smoothness was contrasted by the pistachio granola, cherries and sweet potato and red onion bread that accompanied it.
Our choice of mains posed more of a difficulty as none of our party is a fan of burgers and were in fact surprised to see this dish on the menu, despite the spin of brioche bun, sweet potato chips and homemade ketchup. That left a choice of pork belly, hake and pumpkin gnocchi and as no one was in the mood for pork belly it was almost Hobson’s choice with two of us choosing hake. This beautifully cooked meaty fillet came with heartily grilled baby yellow and orange carrots, fennel cous, carrot and orange purée and Yuzu mayo and went down a treat. Pumpkin gnocchi came with apple, chestnuts and a sesame and pecorino crumb making this light and pleasant tasting dish both interesting and colourful. The elliptical plates that some dishes are served on have a splattered design that gives the illusion of crumbs so be warned!
Puddings were ordered all round on this 3 courses for £15.95 menu and this time there was something for everyone and with only one disappointment so let’s get that out of the way! This was figs, apple sorbet, ginger beer sorbet, warm coconut mousse and honeycomb (puff candy to those of us of a certain vintage!) While all these ingredients sound lovely, the reality was an insipid, runny mess that didn’t work. By contrast, the gingerbread roulade with Cointreau and clementine sorbet was not only a generous slice of roly poly cake with a twist but the combination made an enjoyable dessert. My choice of Frangelico panna cotta came with a tooth sticking hazelnut tuile and a sharp blood orange sorbet was a fine end to a very satisfying lunch.
Not quite ended though, a tray of coffees to round off a genial couple of hours showed that Field has quality in mind throughout. The service from the two waiters was polite, efficient and unobtrusive. No flummery, just good no nonsense, pleasant professional service.
When all around is faux cheer and jolliness, not to mention hiked up prices for so called Festive menus, it was refreshing that Field had a distinctively non-festive feel yet a thoroughly seasonal one as far as their ingredients go. The strong push need to open this restaurant’s door is well worth the effort.