Last week I got an invitation from Eat Peterborough to try the new 12 course tasting menu at House of Feasts. Conceived and run by world renowned Polish chef Damian Wawrzyniak, it’s safe to say, I (and my +1 Dan) jumped at the chance.
Not only is head chef Damian famous for his celebrity clientele (Kate and Wills) but his culinary C.V. reads like a foodies dream. His past accolades include working at NOMA – which perhaps has influenced his style of working with seasonal and local produce to create simple, great tasting dishes – and he has also recently worked on the BBC2 programme Mary Berry’s Easter Feast, where he made Polish babka for Mary in the studio.
House of Feasts itself is a light, airy modern venue with an eclectic decor – with a quirky mix of murals on the ceiling, clean lines and rustic touches including bare brick walls, unfinished wood tables and fake fur throws dotted around the dining area. It has a laid back ambience and I felt very relaxed in the subdued glow of candlelight (although in hindsight this could have been due to the extremely large gin and tonic which was served in a fishbowl sized goblet!)
The menu was a selection of courses created from almost entirely local produce, influenced by Damian’s Polish roots, resulting in some beautifully conceived and crafted authentic Polish dishes.
- Aged Beef Tartare with cured egg yolk and pickles – this House of Feasts favourite was rich but equally yummy and I found just the right sized portion.
- Smalec and Sourdough Bread and Pickles – three cuts of British pork, Apple & herbs, in house made pancetta – a dish that was served to Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2017. The infamous activated charcoal sourdough made an appearance and it was divine.
- Cured herring with beetroot puree, activated charcoal Tuile de Pan and pickled onion – this was delicious but I’m not really a fish fan so the flavour was a little over powering for me. However, the texture of the cured herring was incredibly melt in the mouth.
- Leek Tree tempura with light cream and smoked cheese – served on hot coals, the tempura leek was delicious. Could have eaten a whole lot more of the smoked cheese that came with it had it not disappeared in between the hot coals!
- Beetroot Cured Salmon with Star Anise Cured Beetroot and Leek Ash – The ash really gave this a punchy aftertaste which I didn’t mind but may not be to everyone’s liking. The salmon fell apart beautifully and was served on a beetroot ‘splash’.
- Sea Bass with Fermented Asparagus and Lovage Leaves – perhaps the stand out dish of the night for me, simply because I thought both the flavour combinations and textures worked so perfectly together.
- Potato Cottage Cheese & Ash – a potato fondant, topped with a spinach cottage cheese and potato ash – the potato was cooked to perfection and the cottage cheese and spinach on top cut through some of the richness.
- Short rib of beef with preserved elderberries and cured carrot – the elderberry sauce was the winner here for me. The cut of beef was great but the preserved elderberries really brought out the flavours of the dish with a real smack.
- Honeyed parsnip, Lemon preserved parsnip and pickled parsnip – I thought the honeyed parsnip puree was amazing and the tiny twirl of pickled parsnip had just the right amount of acidity. The honeyed parsnip was fine but this wasn’t a great dish if you’re not much of a fan of parsnip – like me!
- Lamb with preserved nettles and lamb jus – the quality of the lamb was just incredible and this dish had so much flavour.
- Pork belly and pickled Tindora – brined and slow cooked pork belly on mashed potato. By this point I was starting to feel a little full but I persevered (I knew dessert wasn’t far away!) – the pork was lovely but I was a little disappointed with it being a little too fatty but the crackling was cracking.
- Faworki Mille Fuile – this came with a side of ginger and orange dust and a raspberry sauce. It was an amazing combination of textures and the flavour reminded me of a fresh jam doughnut.
- Aerated Chocolate Mousse – the final course was a decadent chocolate mousse with orange. I adore this flavour combination and even after the previous courses, wasn’t too heavy an end to the tasting menu meal. The texture was velvety smooth too.
All the food created by Damian Wawrzyniak shows a huge respect for both seasonal and local ingredients – which is exactly my kind of food and ethos – but also the quality of the produce was superb. The stand out dishes for me were definitely the Aged Beef Tartare and the Sea Bass, whereas Dan (who has recently been spending much more time himself in the kitchen due to his new favourite gadget) happily devoured every morsel of all the dishes but I believe he enjoyed the three fish dishes the most.
Whilst writing this, I’ve realised it was in fact a 13 course tasting menu not 12 so we even had a few bonus bites! And now we’ve sampled the tasting menu from House of Feasts we’re already looking at returning for a Sunday roast. Pyszne!