Tonight I took a friend out for a belated birthday dinner at Opus One at the New County Hotel in Perth. I am now sitting on the last train to Edinburgh a little tipsy, with a full belly.
When we arrived, my friend made a joke about the restaurant being a bit heavy-handed with the romantic atmosphere. Mood lighting, candles and Michael Buble piped into the dining room.
To start with, ordered the chicken liver and foie gras parfait with a pear and fig chutney. My normslly vegetarian friend asked for the risotto and spelt grain with wild mushrooms.
We were presented with a simple cauliflower veloute amuse Simple, effective, though lacking in imagination. Maybe I’m overly fussy, but I am quite bored with the ubiquitous veloute. Pureed soup in a minuscule cup does not set my heart racing.
My parfait was lovely and silky, garnished with cress and served in a mini Mason jar on a slate platter, with a smear of sticky-sweet pear and fig chutney. My only complaint was the single slice of toasted walnut bread was not adequate for amount of parfait. Otherwise a near perfect dish.
My friend’s risotto was deemed fabulous, though I didn’t try any. She’d polished it off before I had a chance! I think that speaks for itself.
My main course was a vegetarian gnocchi with figs and lemon creme Fraiche. The dish was slightly oversalted, possibly from the water the gnocchi had been poached in. The creme Fraiche tasted very strongly of lemon, almost overpoweringly so, though the sweetness of the figs (disappointingly semi-dried rather than fresh) complemented the two and helped tone down the excessive saltiness and citrus tang. It was garnished bizarrely with fresh coriander.
My friend ordered the loin of cured roe deer with pan fried liver and braised cabbage. She is normally s vegetarian, but is partial to the occasional piece of well prepared venison. The liver was lovely and savoury, without the gaminess or slight metallic aftertaste of some. Her venison was tasty and tender, though not spectacularly so. It was, however, very very good. The braised cabbage was sweet and still had a bit of texture to it, perfectly cooked and absolutely fabulous.
For dessert, I had the locally foraged plum tarte Tatin with mulled plum sorbet. My friend had the poached autumn fruits with rosemary ice cream. Both were nice, but overspiced. Her poached fruits tasted almost overwhelmingly of cardamom, but luckily she loves the stuff. The rosemary ice cream was overshadowed, drowned out by the screaming cardamom. My tarte Tatin was lovely, with a sticky tartness to the plums in what would otherwise be a sickly finish. The sorbet was delicious, but the taste of mulled spices lingered long after I’d finished my meal.