One of the perks of having a wife who photographs food is that invites are often extended to the other half which meant I got to experience The White Pheasant in Fordham.
The chance to experience the seven course, yes seven, tasting menu at The White Pheasant was not going to be wasted. It required a determined effort to stay away from the biscuit tin at work in the hours leading to our reservation.
We already knew it was going to be good. A venue doesn’t get two AA Rosettes for nothing. We’d also already experienced some of the dishes that Calvin Holland is capable of (see more from one of the collaboration dinners here).
On this particular evening it was left to the team in the kitchen to give us the experience and they smashed it. Calvin, who appears to back his team to no end, would be along later to say hi and have a chat.
It started with a Mushroom Ragu, a dish that included blue cheese, pumpkin seed and parsley foam. You would be perfectly content with a massive bowl of this stuff on a rainy day. It hit the spot and then some. I could have just eaten this all night. I’d have missed out on the other gems so maybe not.
Next up was the Roast Quail Breast, a first for both Gina and I. I really liked the grape and celery salad and crispy shallots that accompanied the bird.
We would be the very first guests to taste the Confit Trout as it has only just been added. Served with pickled kohlrabi, we had to Google what this is, cabbage heart, kohlrabi whey broth and chive. The piece of fish and pickled kohlrabi were great. I wasn’t overly sold on the cabbage heart but that’s more down to me not being a fan of the vegetable in question than anything else.
The next dish surprised me. The simple reason being that I don’t mind eating butternut but it wouldn’t be something I would choose off the menu when dining out. The Butternut Squash Terrine, served with bacon and rosemary crumb, puffed barley and with a slathering of goat’s cheese sauce was superb. I really enjoyed this, with Gina even commenting something along the lines of “thats a first”.
We were a little over halfway through, keep in mind the brilliant corned bread and salted homemade butter that had welcomed us to the table, and already we were flirting with being full. But we soldiered on as one does when plate after plate of good food is placed in front of you.
My favourite part of the Fillet of Salmon, apart from the piece of fish, which had a maple glaze, itself, was the salmon and pistachio tartare that formed part of the accompaniments with the dish.
The last dish before dessert was the Saddle of Lamb and the rare, tender meat was served with nutmeg and chestnut puree, bread pudding, savoy cabbage and braised celery.
It didn’t end there for we were moving onto the sweet stuff. The penultimate course was one that you almost felt a bit guilty tucking into as you tore open the protective jelly covering a Citrus Panna Cotta.
The subtle taste of whiskey from the jelly was tempered with the sharp apple granita in a fantastic blend of flavours.
At this point, defeat was imminent. Seven courses got the better of us and we were close to throwing in the towel. That is until the Rocky Road Brownie was laid on the table. It simply had to be tasted.
This is not so much a food review as an appreciation post for a meal where each dish was good as the one that came before it.
The great thing about dining at The White Pheasant is that you are assured of a superb culinary experience but without any of the pretentious stuff.
It’s a fantastic, laid-back setting with a wonderful atmosphere. It’s a place to enjoy a cosy meal next to a roaring fire in winter or when taking advantage of a long summer’s evening.
Go try it for yourself.
Where is it – 21 Market Street, Fordham, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5LQ
When to go – Great for a date night, a milestone celebration, a get together with friends.
What to eat – Go for the tasting menu, as far as I know it’s always different. Let the team surprise you.
What to drink – Have a pint of the Mosaic Pale Ale.
How to book – Call 01638 720414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org