The Truffle Pig – Popping up on our Doorstep
10 February 2010
If the words Michelin Star, Joel Robuchon, triple AA Rosettes and the Harden’s Guide grab your attention and enliven your taste buds, then the arrival of The Truffle Pig at the Queen’s Head at the end of January would undoubtedly have been of major interest.
The Truffle Pig is a ‘pop up’ (or ‘visiting’) restaurant, headed up by chef David Williams, bringing together the talents of a selection of other first class renowned cheffy colleagues with a proven track record, a la Michelin Star etc. For our Brandeston event, the Savoy’s pastry chef plus one of Gordon Ramsay’s protégés provided input. The way it works is that the Truffle Pig literally moves into the restaurant space and takes over for a set period of time, front and back of house. All bookings are made direct with TTP (via David’s wife Susanne) and the menu is available on-line in advance of the event. The Truffle Pig promotes Suffolk as the ‘home of the pig’ so where better to start its culinary pop up journey than in the heart of Suffolk?
As a customer of the event (albeit a take-away version, given the sudden arrival of mumps in my household!), I thoroughly enjoyed this culinary experience and wanted to say a few words about it for those who share a passion for good food but were unable to join in.
TTP’s Prix Fixe menu, available Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes and evenings (yes, Sunday evening!) offered a generous selection of five starters, five mains and five desserts. Culinary creations spanned vegetarian, fish and meat options, including (from the starters) a succulent and beautifully flavoured Telmara duck with a Peking consommé, tortellini and coriander or a hearty, earthy wild mushroom and oxtail ravioli with braised oxtail and shallot puree. My main dish of bream with boulangere potato, cabbage balls and a white wine velouté was delicate and supremely cooked and the honey braised pork belly with candied beetroot puree and russet apples was a visual delight as well as paying homage to the beautiful pork that we’ve come to expect in our corner of the country. The dessert of Arctic roll was a grown-up treat of all things chocolatey blended with dark cherries (a far cry from my childhood memory of all things yellow with a ring of red jam) and the duck egg custard tart with earl grey prunes was beautifully smooth and rich.
So - does ‘pop up’ work in Brandeston?
As village pubs go, I think we’re extremely lucky to have on our doorstep such consistently satisfying, creative and value-for-money pub food as that which is always on offer at the Queen’s Head. When dining elsewhere it is clear to me how hard Alan strives to keep one step ahead of other run-of-the-mill local pub offerings that charge more but deliver less.
Bringing The Truffle Pig to the Queen’s Head was, in my view, a real success; the icing on the very-good-cake that we already have. It gave those of us with a passion for food the opportunity to go ‘to the next level’ of dining on our doorstep at a very reasonable price of £40 per head (compare and contrast with £200+ for dinner for two at (Richard) Corrigan’s of Mayfair or £150+ for Atul Kochhar’s Benares; both excellent quality and with London overheads, but for the consumer what a difference in £’s).
The customer base at TTP’s event, which was fully subscribed throughout, appealed to locals, food tourists, the young and old, professional and amateur food fans alike and compliments have been paid to TTP via the Twitter network ever since. For Alan, handing over his kitchen reins for the weekend must have been like leaving a child with a new babysitter for the first time; you really want it to be a good relationship. I think it was just that and I hope that TTP will return again for us all to enjoy and to continue to promote Suffolk and Brandeston as great food destinations.
Well done and thank you to all concerned.