Fresh, vibrant flavours infuse the newly unveiled British summer menu at Bumpkin and reflect through the funky décor of each floor of their Notting Hill branch. Invited to a blogger soiree to celebrate the launch of their newest seasonal menu; we knew we would be spoilt with laughter and good company, but were pleasantly surprised by the flavourful menu, presented with panache.
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Bumpkin, but my (many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn't happily visit and revisit on my own dime. And believe me, we will be back if for the Jack Daniels cocktails alone.
Greeted warmly by the staff (even when I, ahem, turned up an hour too early - I decided to sneak away and enjoy the sun under a garden arbour dripping with wisteria - let's call it 'prepping' for the evening) we were
rewelcomed with an ice cold lemonade, infused with a variety of beautiful botanicals, perfect on a hot summer evening.
After a cheeky wee tour of all four floors, and hundreds of photos later, we were settled comfortably in a good sized corner of the bustling restaurant, on a table plenty big enough for all our photographic kit and some rather divine customised place settings - blogger nirvana.
Nb: This isn't part of the restaurant, but very nearby just in case you need a spot to sneak away to...
I'm pretty sure they designed their daily cocktail just for me. Bursting with blackberries, Lynchburg lemonade, Jack Daniels and a touch of soda served long on a crackle of ice, it was summer in a glass. So good I may have tried a second. Quality testing purposes of course...
The next step was the toughest of the evening - what to pick? With a good range of dishes on the menu and a trace of FOMO I simply let the eyebrows of Nick, the restaurant manager pick the dishes. I've found when struck by indecision it's usually a good shout to ask the staff because any good restaurant will let them try the dishes to make thoughtful recommendations (but, any time they just tell you the most expensive plate in disinterest, just leave). When I agonised over the scallops or the crab, our evening sommelier extraordinaire, fresh from a menu tasting session, suggested in no uncertain terms to try their luxurious crab starter. It was all in the expression on his face.
It was gorgeous (and contained no aforementioned eyebrow hair). Crab can be dynamite in flavour - in the wrong hands it can be overpowering and tangy to the point of sour - but Bumpkins was simply perfect. Adorned simply in a presentation shell, the creamily dressed crab rested on a bed of hidden crisp lettuce, served with Avruga caviar on toast were a perfect foil. The recommended pairing of crab with a cheeky unoaked chardonnay, was a lovely accompaniment without challenging the fresh flavours plated in front of us.
Then, again judging by his approval, I made a selection of their slow cooked pork belly, served beautifully with apple celeriac salad and piccalilli. Simply marvellous (bar a slightly tough crackling crowning the porcine feast) the celeriac salad topped with apple matchsticks was the star of the plate, a crisp and refreshing alternative to stewed apple, and counterpointed the tender meat well. Not a red wine fan, I was convinced (those eyebrows yet again) to try a light Australian Shiraz which set the meal off beautifully without overpowering it.
And then the sides. Golden pillows of chips, buttered mint jersey potatoes and greens. Oh, wait, did I mention the Macaroni and Cheese that American dreams pine for? Creamy carb comfort inside, it was the crisp cheese crust begging to be broken that held our blogging hearts in snapping thrall for a good 10 minutes.
Terminally indecisive, and my sweet tooth unusually sated with the sneaky additional cocktail earlier, Bumpkin's cheese platter seemed to call my name. Featuring a bevvy of cheese (from creamy blue to sharp cheddar), apple pear mustard chutney, a pickled walnut and selection of oat biscuits, being indecisive has never seemed to taste so good. I was talked into a soft tawny port, which simply shimmered softly on the palate, a perfect round to a sumptuous feast.
I'm not going to tell you what my lovely, loquacious tablemates had, you'll just have to check out Selena, Jessica, Mina, Melanie and Jacintha's blog posts for yourself. A tiny word of warning though, it might be best not to read them when you're hungry. On second thought it may not matter as you'll be ravenous by the end of them - good thing there are four branches dotted over London.
Talk about food envy, right there.
The whimsical décor of each floor perfectly matches the fun, trendy vibe of the neighbourhood without being forced, each floor/room with it's own distinct character. My absolute favourite was the clock room, perfect for privately dining 12 dinner guests. Sadly you don't get to keep the table at the end of the dinner party.
We'll be back, especially as I've just spotted their brunch and cocktail menus. Bumpkin, a bastion of British flavour, I salute you.