Ok ... firstly celebrity spottage at the Station Hotel - Claire from Masterchef! And apparently she goes there often ... but I digress even before I have begun. To celebrate M's birthday, we went to the newly minted Josie Bones, the beer and nose-to-tail love child of Masterchef alumnis Chris Badenoch and Julia Jenkins.
Was that a segue or what (and if you said what, then you are one smart cookie!!)
Anyhoo, the beer list is like the first volume of a 3 set encyclopedia, but never fear, the resident beermellier (whats the beer equivalent?) is on hand to help. M was all excited as they had some kind of Sierra Nevada special terroir hop shit, I'm a bit of a beer Luddite I'm afraid, I prefer my tipple from a grape, hops, yeast and wheat all scream irritable bowel syndrome to me. But I must admit that I did enjoy my Anderson Valley (USA) Wheat beer and M was pretty impressed by his Amber Ale.
After a slightly overwrought discussion about the various types of beer available, they got right down to brass tacks and suggested a plate of crackling to go with the first round of drinks. And to provide us something to munch on while we decided on our menu for the night.
As with all these new fangled "no booking" joints, the menu is a series of small plates designed to be shared. In some ways, I do like this way of eating. The idea of sharing dishes is very much a part of the culture I grew up in. But its ths sort of menu that is dangerous for me and M as we have the propensity to order way too much and ruining a good night by overeating.
How we generally approach these sorts of menus is to order what seem to be the most exotic dishes or include ingredients that we are not familiar with. Having said that don't go past the Onion Bahjis as they are some of the best I have ever had. Not too powdery dry and not too sludgy wet.
We also had the Trotter Fritters with Romesco Sauce. The romesco sauce was slightly eclipsed by the prefectly fried fritters. The crisped sage leaves could have been a little better salted, thus strengthening the sage flavour. But all in all it was exactly what you would want as a bar snack.
We also had the Octopus and bone marrow cigar with green mango salad and nam jim. Lets face it, its a glorified spring roll, but it was just oozing flavour (literally) when you bit into it. Surprisingly not a strong favour, but we both agreed that we could have easily gone another serve.
As a trade off with the Onion Bahjis I had myself a Miniature scotch egg which M also dove into with gusto. Not sure if Schmaltz mayonnaise is a technical term or just an affectation, but the entire combination was a success. Again not the strongest of flavours ... but you have to excuse me ... we just came back from Singapore which is mostly flavour dialled up to 11!
One of a seemingly unending number of friendly young staff recommended the Lamb Tartare and the Duck Parfait (part of the specials) to us. We were a little hesitant but decided to go hell for leather (I think I was on my glass of Schwarzbier at this stage).
The Lamb Tartare with the raw yolk centre was delicious ... but mainly because of the Brioche! Brioche and anything really ... brioche and brioche even!
The Duck Parfait was pretty much what I expected - rich rich rich. And perhaps not the best of choices at this point in the evening. But I did enjoy the barley rice.
We had to compromise with the last of the savouries. I really wanted to try the Rolled Pig's head with sauce gribiche (kinda like a mayo) and crackling, but M wanted the Grainfed beef rib meat served with thrice cooked chips and horseradish Mayo, and since it was his birthday, we compromised in his favour.
It was a great way to finish on a slightly sweeter note, which paved the way for what I think was the absolute highlight, Chris' infamous Beerimisu!! And let me tell you this, even if you were full to bursting, stick fingers down your throat and make some room, you can't go past this. It is to die for. The espresso porter just goes so well with the rich biscuity mush. Its light and heavy at the same time ... and I think a little on the aphrodisiacal side ... definite date food!!
So its a little rough round the edges, but I really enjoyed Josie Bones, the man himself even managed to crack a smile and offer a "how's it going" ... and I can't wait to go back soon. Here's hoping they make it past the 3 year mark.