Harvey Nichols Bristol hosted celebrated Duck & Waffle chef Dan Doherty’s new supper club last night (21 March 2018) at its chic Second Floor Restaurant in Cabot Circus, with great success.
The creative London cook and food writer has been touring select UK cities – Manchester and Leeds prior to Bristol and Birmingham – with his solo venture, which has seen him team up with purveyors of plants and ceramics to bedeck his temporary venues with plenty of greenery and attractive, on-trend terrariums. He’s keen to open a restaurant along the same lines – so he told us after Second Floor head chef Louise McCrimmon introduced him to diners ahead of the starters – in order to give small businesses, finding it difficult to finance their own shop space, a place to showcase and sell their wares. (Of course, in return he’d get his restaurant beautifully decorated for free.)
This menu allowed Dan to share his love of Middle Eastern flavours, and after warming cheese-based canapés were crunched down and seen off with a fragrant glass of ‘Silent Sunset’ – Silent Pool gin, Puerto Fino sherry, lemon juice, sugar syrup and orange bitters – it was time for the main events.
Garden veg prettily arranged upon pea hummus and smoked yoghurt was spring on a plate despite the still-Baltic late-March outdoors, especially matched with the light sauvignon recommended by super-lovely server Emily. The accompanying paratha was the butteriest we’d ever tasted and – with the dough having been rolled up long ways then short ways to achieve a flaky pastry effect – plenty textured. It resulted in a meticulous clean-up operation once the veggies had been polished off; the soft bread mopping up every last smear of ‘smogurt’ – as Dan calls it.
The second course of slow-cooked lamb shoulder was heavily enhanced by hot hummus, chosen in place of standard mash potato, and quickly vanished, due largely to Dan’s own very flavoursome take on the traditional Middle Eastern hot sauce zhoug, plus its plate-fellow of purple sprouting broccoli.
The affable chef, who is now also part of Mary Berry’s new BBC One television show Britain’s Best Cook, – and will be judging competitors’ efforts – came round to each and every table throughout the course of the evening to chat to diners, make sure all was well and share some of the thinking behind the cooking. As his finale of pistachio and orange cake arrived with rose Chantilly and orange blossom honey – too decent a chunk to finish, we found – and concluded his flying visit and first foray into the Bristol dining scene he disappeared from whence he came.
A seamless, relaxed evening of playful and indulgent cuisine – we hope our city made enough of an impression to be in the running for that permanent restaurant… In other words, come back soon, chef Doherty!