Lunch at Aubergine at The Compleat Angler

PUBLISHED: 12:03 07 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:40 20 February 2013

Lunching at Aubergine

Lunching at Aubergine

Marcia Waters, Master of Wine and owner of MW2 Wines, at Aubergine, the new restaurant at the Compleat Angler in Marlow

Who did you take?

I am conducting a food and wine tasting here at the Compleat Angler for the Buckinghamshire branch of the Institute of Directors, so it seemed a good idea to bring my friend Debbie Benger representing the IoD.

First impressions:

It feels very special to drive up to the traditional and beautifully smart hotel on the riverbank. We choose to go straight to the Aubergine Restaurant and browse the menu there. Our table had a splendid riverside view, and we admired the way the Aubergine dcor had been applied to the Compleat Angler style so it had a separate feel.

Tell us about the menu:

For £28.50 the three course lunch menu had a good choice with plenty of seafood and fish as well as pork and lamb. The à la carte at 45 for two courses or 55 for three courses was fuller and the Gourmande menu at 65 looked stunning. It included seven courses and you could go for the sommelier's wine recommendations for each course at an additional 60.

What did you choose?

We were offered a small amuse bouche from the chef of a crispy frog's leg in a mustard sauce and lemon confit which set the scene nicely! We started with scallops with braised peas, onions and bacon. The scallops were beautifully seared, very creamy and perfectly cooked. My main course was plaice in lobster sauce, again wonderfully cooked fish, and a rich sauce beautifully balanced by braised fennel and spinach. Debbie went for the pig's cheeks in a Madeira jus and mustard sauce, which was gorgeously tender.

What did you drink?

Well, I took ages reading the wine list, as I'm always interested in what restaurants choose to serve. But the best thing for me was having a professional sommelier in Gabriel Danis, and so we chatted and he made some very good recommendations. Our aperitif was Ruinart Blanc de Blanc, silky smooth and creamy. We then had a stunning Alsace Riesling Grand Cru by Domain Gresser with the scallops, which was fabulously steely and juicy. I had a wood-aged Grenache Blanc from Aix en Provence with my plaice, which worked very well, and was not a wine I would otherwise have chosen, if it hadn't been recommended, so that was a treat. Gabriel suggested a Volnay, les Blanches by Domaine Darviot Perrin for Debbie's pork, which had just the right amount of plumy fruit and richness.

Were you tempted by desserts?

Oh yes! Figs poached in red wine with panecotte for Debbie and blackberry and apple croustade with vanilla cream for me, together with a Jurançon dessert wine. None of it was heavy, just delicious.

What was the service like throughout the meal?

Thoroughly professional. Matteo, the Maître D and Gabriel achieved a good balance of being attentive but not overpowering. Executive chef William Drabble oversees both here and the Chelsea restaurant, while Miles Nixon is the head chef at the Compleat Angler. They aim to source more and more local produce as they get to know the region, and to have seasonal changes including picnics from May. We both thought a river trip with an Aubergine picnic would be a fabulous special occasion!

Would you recommend it?

We both already have! The meal was excellent, and the price good value, especially taking into account the setting and the service.

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