Whenever you’re dining out and you find yourself wanting to write about how good the bread and butter is, you know you’re in for a good meal.
Sadly you can no buy loaves from The Creameries, but they’re still making bread for the restaurant – and boy is it good. And don’t even get us started on the butter.
Housed inside a former Edwardian dairy, the restaurant focuses on creative menus that minimise waste and are defined, rightly, as much by seasonal flavours as by chef patron Mary-Ellen McTague’s ethical and sustainable values.
Not only does she pickle and preserve what can’t be used immediately, but the restaurant also works with its suppliers to help them avoid waste, too.
Mary-Ellen’s experience working in Michelin kitchens, where an understanding of nose-to-tail dining is key, undoubtedly plays into this.
Add her involvement in the Real Junk Food Project – which took food destined for landfill and transformed it into wholesome pay-as-you-feel meals – and it all starts to come together.
Head down and you’ll find three menus on offer: a range of bar snacks, a lunchtime set, and a supper menu. We try the latter, which promises a staggering five courses for £35. Staggering good value, we’re sure you’ll agree.
Things kick off nicely with a cloudy-yet-sparkling glass of Lemoss and some nibbly bowl of potato straws, dusted with dehydrated lime pickle.
These are soon joined by little ceramic dishes filled with house pickles – one little way in which The Creameries makes sure nothing goes to waste.
Fragrant, sweet matchsticks of butternut squash; earthy, green disks of cavolo nero stalks; and smoky, candied golden beetroot come garnished with a mustard leaf and earn enthusiastic murmurs of approval from around the table.
Also present are Mary-Ellen’s famous yellow split pea chips, arranged Jenga-style with a swoosh of mustard ketchup on the side.
But the butter, oh the butter! And that bread. Fluffy but firm, it’s perfect for dipping, with we commence with aplomb: trying first the slightly tangy cultured butter, then the whipped brown butter, which is nutty and light as air.
“Mary-Ellen’s butter is the stuff of legends,” one of our party wisely apprises. She’s not wrong. We find ourselves going back and forth, back and forth between the two trying to pick a favourite. An impossible task. Almost as impossible as getting a good photo of the thing.
Even better than the butter, though, has to be the warm pot of goat dripping. An unlikely star, it shines nonetheless: its rich, silky grease glistening on our torn hunks of bread. A lingering hint of thyme has us diving back in for more, in spite of the five courses yet to come. This is just the warm-up act.
And so we begin, diving into the first course with zeal. Slivers of juicily pink cured pigeon sit gracefully atop a charred cucumber, which has been gently schmeared in creamy Cais Na Tire sheep’s cheese.
Pretty as a picture but tiny on the plate, an internal battle ensues as we attempt to refrain from demolishing this in one.
A racy and tart Tendu white is mouthwatering and thirst-quenching, managing to work with the cucumber whilst also standing up to the pigeon – not the easiest pairing to pull off.
Next comes a Crown Prince squash soup so salaciously creamy it immediately wins our heart. And that’s before we discover the ultra-creamy Kileen goats cheese dumpling nestled within its golden depths.
Served alongside it is a kegged Nicholas Reau Chenin Blanc, rich with apricot and peach overtones. Its high acidity cuts through the soup’s robust and luxuriant creaminess.
A partridge butter pie hits the table, its rich pastry falling away under the knife. Buttered cavolo nero and liver parfait add to its magnificence. On the side, a confit leg drizzled in roasting juices further intensifies the plate’s gamey flavours.
Never has such a tiny plate been so immensely satisfying – particularly when it’s paired with a light but acidic Chateau Cambon Beaujolais.
Breaking for a spot of cheese, plates of creamy Baron Bigod brie and Corra Linn manchego land in front of us, joined by a couple of weird and wonderful chutneys. A burnt cabbage creation works surprisingly well with the brie, whilst notes of ginger sing out from a jammy plum and nettle preserve.
A sweet finish comes courtesy of a ‘pupton’ Bramley apple, sandwiched with whey caramel and a dollop Pedro Ximenez jelly.
Paired with a glass of honeyed and fresh dessert wine from the imposing Renaissance Château de Monbazillac in southwestern France, it leaves us merry and content.
Please note: supper menus will change with seasonality. Wine flights are priced at an additional £25pp and served in 75ml measures.