Saturday, 04 April 2020

Chef with pedigree returns to roots

Chef with pedigree returns to roots

A WARM welcome awaited my husband Dave and I at the Unicorn Pub in Kingwood Common.

Richard and Niki had a total change of career 18 months ago and are excited by the challenges of attracting new customers.

They have certainly fully embraced the change of career and have already introduced an exciting new menu with the help of their award-winning head chef Alex Smith.

The menu consists of proper pub grub for lunch and an evening à la carte, which has been carefully put together and is complemented by evening “specials” which are changed every few days. Vegetarians will also be delighted with the delicious dishes available.

Having cut his teeth working for Antony Worrall Thompson for four years and at Rick Stein’s restaurant in Cornwall, Alex brings a wealth of experience.

Alex has in fact returned to his roots as we learn from his proud mother and grandfather that he won the Young Chef of the Year award when he was 15 years old and featured in the Henley Standard.

We then meet the enthusiastic Rachael, who works both in the bar and restaurant, and it’s soon made clear that they have a team that work well together.

Dave and I were seated in the beautiful rustic-looking dining room where we sat in an alcove which seats between eight and 10 people, perfect for entertaining a small party for a special occasion or a group of friends enjoying an evening out.

There is a nice selection of wine, beer and lager on offer. I chose an Argentian Malbec, my favourite, and my husband had a pint of Brakspear. We then started with breads with slow roasted garlic and my husband was delighted with the Olives stuffed with fresh chillies and was followed by steak tartare, which turned out to be his favourite dish of the night. Be brave and try it — you won’t be disappointed.

A sumptuous array of main courses came soon after and all were bursting with fabulous flavours.

The medallions of fillet steak were outstanding and melted in our mouth and the tiger prawns huge and juicy served with proper chunky triple-cooked chips.

The pub favourite, calves’ liver and bacon with colcannon (mashed potatoes) and onion gravy, was richly flavoured and beautifully tender.

We then tackled the herb-stuffed chicken breasts on the bone, flavoursome, moist and tender with Lyonnais potatoes, chilli and garlic wild mushrooms with white wine sauce. The dish oozed a lovely texture and taste.

Finally, we had cod wrapped in Parma ham served with chorizo risotto, a pairing which all worked and added a smokey bite.

With Richard and Niki at the helm, the Unicorn is a genuinely friendly country pub, which offers incredibly good value for the quality of ingredients and high standard of cooking alongside an efficient and friendly team in an intimate and welcoming setting.

Given the growing popularity, it is recommended to book first on (01491) 628674 to avoid disappointment, You will be well rewarded for the effort.

l Make a date to join the team, who are once again hosting Unifest 2 on Saturday, June 17 with music and an all-day barbecue from noon until 11pm.

Wine and Dine

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