Chris Wilson is impressed with the care and craft at Caviars
On first impressions there is a lovely old-fashioned feel to the exterior of Caviars. The classically simple black and white paintwork, with contrasting colour-drenched hanging baskets, is entirely in keeping with those quieter corners of Bawtry where it seems that sleepy English small town life is alive and well.
But there is nothing cosy or conservative about the ambitious food being produced by executive chef Darren Rogan and his team.
In fact, close inspection of a menu that looks deceptively simple at first glance reveals that it is liberally stuffed with flourishes, confirming it has been put together with a lot of care and craft.
For example, starters include a cauliflower and white onion soup with white truffle oil, garlic crouton and a cheese and olive scone, while mackerel fillet is served with saffron sautéed potatoes, cucumber and a horseradish bonbon. Clearly, nobody is coasting here, and with a young waiting staff full of enthusiasm, Caviars can’t fail to make a strong impact... but will the food taste as good as it reads? Absolutely.
A terrific dining experience began with king scallops, sweet and salty, served on what the menu described as a ham knuckle compression but I’d call it a brilliant and tender terrine. With vanilla soaked grapes and baked hazelnuts on the side, and a sprinkling of edible wildflowers for show-stopping presentation, this was quite something.
Our second starter of Harrogate blue cheese ravioli with spinach veloute, parmesan tuille and pickled apple looked almost plain by comparison but once again was packed with flavour, and the contrast of the crunchy tuille against the velvety pasta was a lovely touch.
Main courses brought more top-notch presentation, with strong flavours and contrasting textures to provide constant interest. My companion’s plate of pork was probably the most impressive dish of the evening, a killer combo of belly pork, Parma ham tenderloin, braised cheek, fondant potato, apple puree, mini toffee apple and red wine sauce. That’s not just a list of ingredients by the way, it’s a symphony on a plate.
My duck breast, served with a chive croquette, salt-baked sweet potato puree, honey-glazed swede, shallot rings and red wine jus, was another perfectly balanced plate of food. The duck was nicely pink and tender, too.
Whatever you order, don’t miss the opportunity to try a side portion of perfect triple-cooked chips, light and fluffy inside, with a seriously crunchy exterior.
You might say that deconstructed dishes have become a bit of a dining cliché, so let’s call my dessert dish of peach melba a reinterpretation instead. Served on a black slate for maximum impact, this combination of poached peach, vanilla panna cotta, raspberry sorbet and white chocolate shards was creative, colourful and simply delicious.
Not to be overshadowed, our second dessert of chocolate delice was dark, rich and smooth. Served with pistachio ice-cream and pistachio brittle, every mouthful was savoured.
So what’s happening in this sleepy corner of old England? Something special to arouse the interest of the most jaded diner, that’s what.
Caviars, 9-9a Swan Street, Bawtry, DN10 6JQ
Tel: 01302 710006