Page 28 - Poole Audi Feast Magazine Edition 2
P. 28

The Black Rat
The Black Rat – an unlikely name for a Michelin-starred restaurant in historic Winchester – on a closer look it’s actually perfect branding as part of mogul David Nicholson’s ‘Black’ hospitality collection. One can in fact, have an exclusively ‘black’ experience in Winchester! Aperitifs in the Black Bottle, dinner in the Black Rat, overnight in a cell in the Black Hole Bed and Breakfast concluding with a light lunch over the road in the quirky Black Boy Pub...
But we feel that the Black Rat is the main draw, and a refreshingly informal one at that. Rustic tables inside (and outside), a building that dates back to the 1700s with evidence of 15th or 16th century stonework... it is a really interesting and clever layout – no one table really intrudes on another, so it gives a sense of privacy. It’s a young team that looks after the keen guests, talking enthusiastically through the cocktails and gins – we are willingly talked into two Dà Mhìle Seaweed Gins – and we are hooked! This was just the beginning of some excellent direction throughout the evening.
A kitchen garden, a dedicated forager, six starters, and six mains...
To start with, the 48-hour slow-cooked beef tongue tartar, watercress purée, yolk jam with pickled vegetables, and horseradish toast was a perfect Michelin indicator. The lesser talked about tongue was beautiful, with accompaniments
that had an earthy balance. The cured sea trout a distinct contrast, delicate, bright, refreshing, and tweezer perfect!
A bottle of Laibach Pinotage Stellenbosch, South Africa was breathing eagerly after we had established that it was indeed the bottle that we ordered – no problems here, just an overenthusiastic waitress, and an easily uncrossed wire.
The venison  llet with smoked apple and beetroot purée and salt baked celeriac, girolles, charred grelot onions and walnut oil is hearty, pink, smoky, and provides more evidence of the Michelin status.
The Iberico pork was luxurious as expected, with heritage carrots and tonka bean purée, Pommes Anna, crispy ears, kale and hazelnut granola – intricate and rich thanks to the lushous potato side with subtle vanilla undertones.
While elaborate, there is still a comforting feel to the menu – desserts for example; the carrot cake and rice pudding keep a traditional feel to what is a predominantly intricate British menu and the more exotic madeleines with butterscotch sauce, matcha parfait, and chocolate and hazelnut marquis all again demonstrate diversity.
The Black Rat is a great experience, don’t be fooled by any preconceptions of strict policies in line with its accolade – it is a gastro pub environment with Michelin qualities on every plate.
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