This would be my fourth pilgrimage to Chez Bonwick’s merry one man band, and for this meal, I kindly asked if he could make us an all-seafood Choisi menu.
Seafood is close to my heart as I am sure it is yours too, and I was delighted that he did, charting the course for a fine voyage de la mer with Cornish kings and Breton queens. The products were of immaculate quality, delicately transformed with the chef’s stunning grasp of classic technique and this ultimately produced a whopper of a meal. When it comes to seafood, the true secret lies in the quality of the catch, specifically, the Chef’s relationship with his suppliers (take a look at his cod).
Dean (Bonwick, son and FOH extraordinaire) has added a Coravin to his arsenal, and this allows him to serve his precious warchest of aged beauties, by the glass. He has shared a few things on twitter that had my eyeballs popping like this and that. Wouldn’t mind a glass of DRC.
The meal took place at the end of February, table for 3, and we paid £84 per person for all food (£55 for this 5 course choisi), wine, service.
My feelings for Chef Bonwick’s cuisine have grown even deeper after this meal….
1. Breton scallop tartare, orange zest, passionfruit, trout roe
Incredibly sweet scallops, enhanced by the added acidity and zest. Above all, this was a celebration of shellfish in near perfect condition. Judging by the meaty texture, these must have been the fist-sized ones.
2. Baked monkfish, ras el hanout
Gently so, until ready and sweating. The meaty fish sandwiched between spice and crunchy freshness for balance.
3. Salcombe crab, tuile, egg yolk, (perfectly made ?) shellfish bisque
When stunning ingredients and precise cookery meet… my word, this blew my mind.
Simon keeps a lobster soup on his menu and no doubt this bisque is a version of his recipe. I say that as I did not ask what other bones or shells have been thrown into this mix. And it was incredible. The first sip knocks you back. The flavour, and so much it too, the second sip, the third…. you know the feeling of fish soup heaven. You taste all the work this Chef puts in to prepare all his stock from scratch. The difference is the painstaking work of a master craftsman.
Simon rotates his source of crab as the seasons shift; Sheringham from the Norfolk coast in the colder months, and Salcombe at the very first bloom of golden bells.
Like the preceeding dishes, it is yet again the sheer quality of the crab that provides the extra mile of pleasure – the sweetness was completely off the charts. Finally, an unadorned egg yolk baths the crab in a robe of creamy luxuriousness. Alongside Simon’s scallop and prawn a la nage, both dishes are now firmly seared into my memory banks. One of the best so far this year. Spectacular dish. I need to have this again.
4. Cornish turbot with crust of crispy shallots, Breton prawns, mash and a reduction of carrot and red wine
Perfectly roasted until glimmering underneath the crust. This is a stunner and it more than stands up to the heavily reduced gloss too. The thickness of the fillet, it must be at least an inch and a half! Dean had told us that this came from a 9kg behemoth, in which his dad has obviously procured the entire specimen. And a fine specimen it was. Paired with equally muscular Breton prawns, so sweet, so delicious. What a privilege it is to eat fish of this quality. I thank the weather gods that allowed these precious beasts to be landed.
5. Baba with pineapple, pistachio cream and white rum.
Decadence to finish, a perfectly made baba with fresh cut pineapple, doused with white rum at the table.
Classic technique, English Pub
Menu Choisi 5 courses for £30 (++ depending on ingredients) + drinks + service
ALC 3 courses for £45 (ave) + drinks + service
Burchetts Green, Maidenhead SL6 6QZ
Tel : 01628 824079
Transport : Maidenhead Station, followed by 10 min car ride