Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Wit and Widgeon

Mark Gilchrist relishes all things game. Loves hunting it, killing it and cooking it. The two main things my companion and I know about Gilchrist prior to visiting his pop up restaurant is that he is the head chef of ‘Game for Everything’, and that he can skin a rabbit in 45 seconds (check youtube). Great ammunition for small talk.

The ‘restaurant’ is actually his friend’s flat, down a sweet cobbled mews with Bentleys peering at us as we amble down. When we arrive, my companion and I peer into the kitchen. Affable Gilchrist has a murderous swipe of blood on his whites. He is cooking in wellies, a habit cultivated at home as he walks straight from cull to kitchen. He is unapologetic in his fervour (he tells us he shot his first gun when he was 7)– and we are rewarded with solid English fare, crafted all by this professional enthusiast.

25 of us sit happily on communal tables – we happen upon a friend of Gilchrist’s from university who regales us with salubrious stories from his youth and reasons why he should be kept away from vegetarians.

The menu

Home Smoked Widgeon with wild rocket and lime dressing

Braised Pheasant Breast with beetroot gratin, a parcel of confit’d thigh of pheasant and black pudding wrapped in Parma ham served with Savoy cabbage and a thick tarragon cream sauce

Chocolate layered cake. Layers of vanilla and coco sponge with white and milk chocolate and creams.

The widgeon (what a great word), is the star of the show. What a wonderfully simple dish, the bird is not overpoweringly but subtley smoked, the texture springy yet tender, and so moreish it could fly solo sans rocket and the token spritz of lime. Hats off to the home smoker. Over the pheasant, our table swaps recipes (We are told to try pot roasted pheasant on a base of apples, and topped with streaky bacon). The rich pheasant confit and black pudding is a rich mix of meaty flavours, which balances the mildness of the breast. Another solid dish, true and hearty.

The dessert is a pity. It is a bit too dense, and there is honestly a bit too much of it (although this doesn’t stop my companion from eating all of it).

But then, Gilchrist is a game chef. And game is what he excels in. He chooses what he will serve from the moment he lifts that gun, and that’s what makes him different from other chefs. Now to watch him skinning a deer under 5 minutes…

For more information on Mark Gilchrist visit:



Post a Comment