In 5,4,3,2, 1…
(Smile at camera)
Good evening and welcome to Dev TV. Tonight I’m lucky enough to be eating at the Hannah Dining Suite in Quex Park [now being run by Dev Biswal of The Ambrette fame]. I say lucky because it’s taken me three goes at getting fed. The first was thwarted by gas problems (them not me). The second buried by a funeral wake. But as we sit here now in this vast room making conversation with our host, sipping aperitifs and admiring the remarkable menu I’m positive it’ll be third time lucky.
The cuisine Dev has chosen to charm us with here is traditional British (no repeats with him then) assembled from his travels around our splendid isles. The man to take us on our journey is executive chef Patrick Beach. He’s got just 90 minutes to steer us around the UK with 6 impeccable courses. Let’s cook!
Our first stop is the North East of Scotland. Their contribution to the programme is Cullen skink. [It proves to be an amazing creamy haddock and potato soup that drowns the memory of all the others sloshing around in my head. Next is a simple and well-executed Welsh rabbit (sic). Pukka! Ensuing closely is the Kentish mackerel with gooseberries. The observant amongst you will recognise this stand out dish from its television debut earlier in the year and I’m happy to report that this one also proves fit for a king. All the while Thanet’s own food royalty glides around the room, skilfully managing his guests with the dexterity of a plate spinner. Dev is a natural. A producer’s dream.
Our galloping gourmet delivers the next course himself: nice touch. The Irish stew arrives trapped in a glass jar, which our silky-pawed hero fumbles and empties onto the table. The evening’s first kitchen nightmare. A nightmare that goes away as quickly as it arrived. No fuss. No use of the f-word. The man is a pro. I find the stew a little too simple, lined up with the other team members, and feel it stems the flow of the previously perfect menu.
At this juncture we have a choice of Ramsgate fish and Quex chips or steak and kidney pie. We order one of each and agree to swap half way through. Once out of the kitchen we decide that they are far from equal. The former wins our hearts with its excellent battered hake and pan-fried bream, superb peas and perfect chips. Who needs molecular gastronomy when simple food can be this good?
The epilogue involves parkin, brandy ice cream and saffron-infused pineapple. It is sublime and brings our journey to a beautiful end. Before we go I’d just like to say that it’s been great to be here and if you’d like to come and enjoy the experience yourself then its £25 per person. A remarkably small cost to be fed by such a master chef.
(Look seriously into camera)
Dev and Patrick have given us a truly great British menu and I think it’s fair to say that cooking doesn’t get better than this.
Quex Park, Birchington,Kent, CT7 0BH, 01843 842168.