Mike Wilde and friends dine at the Cafe at the Cavern
We are four friends who share a taste for the good things in life and food is near the top of our list.
We were not disappointed. We ate well, were served well and the atmosphere was pleasant. The members of the Cavern Catering Team had done well to create a venue for fine dining from what is essentially just a café.
We were greeted on arrival and taken straightaway to our table by Café manager Paula. We were given free iced water throughout the evening, which was a sensible addition to the favourite white and red wines we had brought with us. Individual members of staff were happy to discuss all food questions we had during service.
We were soon brought a plate of freshly baked bread and a lightly salted butter as an appetiser. It was simple well baked soft bread with a delicious combination of oil and Rosemary that could only be improved if served warm.
The boys started with onion soup. There was no shortage of nicely softened onions and an agreeably large and tasty cheese crouton added extra flavour. The soup had a distinctively strong taste due to the Buxton Brewery ale used in the stock.
The girls had opted for the pigeon breast that was neatly presented on a white profile plate and topped with potato crisp, pea shoots, dabs of celeriac puree and very nicely complemented with mushrooms, bacon and beetroot. The meat was tasty and the whole dish was a brilliant combination of flavours.
For our main course, three of us opted for the Ox cheek which arrived on a large white platter with substantial portions of dark leafy green kale and red cabbage. This assured me I would have at least two of my five-a-day and was a good healthy choice. The smoky mash was smooth and creamy, just as I like it, and the sweet baby carrots gave a nice colour and taste contrast to the other vegetables.
The Ox cheek was cooked to perfection, being tender and tasty with just the right amount of the cooking juices reduced to a bold sauce. This was truly a flavoursome dish which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
The other main course choice was the Chicken Ballotine. It was a colourful plate of food with 4 generous slices of the ballotine. With mushroom and thyme combining to create a delicious stuffing for the moist and tender chicken breast, the whole was complemented with an ample amount of buttery velouté sauce, potato croquette and seasonal vegetables.
For dessert, one of us chose the Panna Cotta that turned out to be an absolutely winning combination of pear, elderflower, ginger and honey comb. It was a wonderful take on a favourite Italian dessert.
The rest chose the Tarte Tatin. This was another taste triumph. It was a perfect slice of tart. Sugar dusted apple slices with a caramel glaze on a sweet pastry base, an amazing smidgen of rhubarb coulis and a gorgeously light, hot Cardamom custard. Heaven! We all agreed.
To finish we had a decent cup of coffee and a morsel of smooth, sweet and creamy hand cut fudge. It was a nice finale to an excellent meal.
The keys to great food are the right ingredients, the right recipe and the right techniques.
Well done Hattie. You nailed it. Do it again soon.