Dinner at the Sportsman on Chris Lema
A few weeks ago I created a Buy Me Dinner page, after requests from people for a donate button. My first dinner was bought by Chris Lema, who bought me a tasting menu at the Sportsman in Seasalter (shame about the website (the nav menu is hidden inside those beach huts), they should check out happytables). I met Chris at Pressnomics last November. He is a writer, product developer, coach, and excellent blogger who writes some fantastic posts about WordPress. He also loves food as much as I do, so hopefully he’ll appreciate how much I appreciated my lovely dinner.
Unsurprisingly, I took D along with me, who was only too please to accompany me to a restaurant we’ve been planning to go to for quite a long time. The Sportsman has a relaxed atmosphere inside. With an open fire and large wicker chairs it feels more like a classy pub than a restaurant. When we arrived, the waitress asked us if we’d not eaten all day to make sure we had room. This was the first indication of what was to come.
We’d ordered the tasting menu which had eight items on it, simply listed as:
- Picked Herrings
- Bread, home-churned butter with Seasalter salt
- Chestnut soup
- Crab, carrot and hollandaise
- Turbot braised in vin jaune with smoked pork
- Roast lamb from Monkshill farm
- Apple ice lolly
- Cream cheese ice cream and pear
D can’t eat shellfish so he had a slightly different menu – I didn’t take photos of all of his but I did try them all! Yum yum.
We started with cheese and chive biscuits:
This was followed by pickled herring on Irish brown soda bread (what we in Northern Ireland call Wheaten bread), and home-made pork scratchings. Pig fat has got to be one of the most delicious things in the universe, and this was crispy, warm, and had mustard to dip it in.
Next was a scallop with smoked pork and bramley apple. D had mackerel (but it was tiny so I didn’t get any).
Followed by an oyster with some stuff that I can’t remember.
At this point I was thinking “hmmm… if all of the dishes are this size I’m going to end up very hungry. When the waitress came over to deliver our bread I asked if we had reached the end of the starters. She told me that we hadn’t even started them yet!
The bread was fantastic – D particularly liked the brown soda bread, whereas I liked the sourdough (which tasted like it was made with wild yeast).
With out bread we had chestnut soup, which was one of the highlights. It had confit duck in it and crispy duck skin on top.
Here I am enjoying my soup:
No more soup
My favourite types of seafood are scallops and crab, and the next two courses were those. First of all, a scallop in parsley butter, served with scallop carpaccio and scallop roe and something else on top. Bought were good, but the carpaccio was particularly delicious. D didn’t eat this so he had whiskey-smoked salmon.
This followed by crab with carrot and hollandaise sauce. I love crab – it’s so delicious! I also love hollandaise. D had smoked pigeon breast with puy lentils.
By this point I was starting to feel pretty full. The hollandaise was very rich and my stomach sometimes rebels when I eat rich, creamy things. However, there was no time to worry about my stomach a the waitress brought us turbot with vin jaune, smoked ham and purple sprouting broccoli.
When I finished the turbot I was totally full, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to eat anything else. Of course, I knew that I would have to, but it was beginning to become a struggle. The next item on the menu was lamb, and I was a bit scare of it coming out, so me and D were relieved when we were delivered these two small morsels of lamb belly. They were really, really good, but I did struggle to get it in. I was feeling very much like Mr Creosote and his wafer thin mint.
When we finished we couldn’t wait to get on to a refreshing dessert course. The waitress came over, placed the mint sauce on the table and put some steak knives and forks beside us. The lamb had only just begun! Placed in front of both of us was shoulder and rump of lamb with turnip carpaccio, cabbage and a roasted spring onion.
This is how I felt:
However, I could not be defeated – this was my Everest! The lamb was totally delicious, really soft and full of lamby flavour. I did my best and left this:
The waitress asked if we would like ten minutes before dessert and we said that we definitely would. Conversation came to a lull as D and I struggled to speak through being totally stuffed (I’m not as witty or conversational if I’m a) hungry, or b) too full. This was the state I was in:
The waitress set two tiny cups in front of us. Each was filled with cream and a bramley apple ice lolly. This was totally refreshing and what we really needed at this point.
In fact, it sorted us out so much that we were able to tackle the next dessert with gusto. I’ve never had cream cheese ice cream before and it was beautiful, especially scattered with meringue, ginger biscuit, and pear puree.
Here I am digging in:
This was the last item on the menu and I was ready for some peppermint tea. The waitress came out and took our plates away. We said we were totally stuffed and she said there was just one more thing. One more thing turned out to be four more things on one board: lemon posset, chocolate mousse with salted caramel, apple turnover, and homemade chocolate truffles.
I managed to squeeze in the mousse, lemon posset, and truffle, and D kindly ate my turnover. Here I am eating the very final dish that evening:
I finished it all off with Peppermint tea, which is always necessary after a large meal to sort out my stomach.
Here is a token photograph of my lovely D, whose conversation was excellent as always (especially his lame jokes).
We arrived at the restaurant at 7:15pm and left at 11:45pm and we ate almost the whole time. It was a pretty special evening, with some amazing food. So thanks Chris Lema! Everyone should visit Chris’s website and buy him a cigar.