Chef’s Table at Brocco Kitchen

I had a great time as a guest at Brocco Kitchen‘s first Chef’s Table. The restaurant is based in the lovely boutique hotel, Brocco on the Park, and is a neighbourhood kitchen, open to everybody (not just hotel residents!). I’d been for lunch before for a friend’s birthday, so already knew to expect a good time at the Chef’s Table dinner. Brocco is in a great spot, just off Hunter’s Bar, by Endcliffe Park.

Created by Michelin Plate-winning Head Chef, Leslie Buddington, Chef’s Table is a new monthly event. With only 12 seats around the table, it feels like you’re part of an exclusive crowd. It takes place on a Tuesday night, when the restaurant is otherwise closed, which makes it feel even more special.

The Chef’s table at Brocco

The welcome glass of fizz, tasteful Scandi-inspired décor, warm lighting and candles and unobtrusive background music instantly set the scene for a very pleasant evening.

Leslie, accompanied by young chef Liam, came to chat with us all before the meal began. It was great to hear about the development opportunity the Chef’s Table events will give the younger chefs at Brocco, as they will get to work on them 1:1 with Leslie.

Head Chef Leslie Buddington working his magic at the pass

We sat down and were greeted by some amazing, freshly baked focaccia with sundried tomatoes. It was still warm and oh-so-tasty. Served with cloud-like whipped butter, which I pretty much wanted to spoon straight into my mouth, just this was enough to get my palate excited and anticipating I was in for a real treat with the courses that were still to come.

That dreamy focaccia

There was no menu provided in advance, nor on the table. Instead, Leslie and Liam took it in turns to introduce each dish. I really like the surprise element of this and it also means that Leslie has the freedom to cook with the freshest seasonal ingredients, and with whatever takes his fancy near the day, without being bound by a longstanding menu. It reminded me of lunch at L’Enclume a few years ago, where the menu was in an envelope on the table, closed with a wax seal, and it was up to us when to peep at it (we waited ’til the end).

The first chef’s snack appeared. Leslie described it as their take on a cheese and onion crisp. It was delightful! A crispy potato skin, atop some straw potatoes, filled with a chive foam, cheese, crispy onions and chives.

Potato, cheese and onion

Next up was the first official course of chargrilled langoustines with pancetta, celeriac, peas and a langoustine sauce. This was one of my favourites. The saltiness of the pancetta worked brilliantly with the meaty langoustines, and that sauce was irresistible. I took my cue from some of my fellow diners and grabbed one of the remaining slices of focaccia so that I could mop up every last drop.

Langoustine, celeriac, pea, pancetta

Next up was Leslie’s rather impressive interpretation of cauliflower cheese. Cauli in a myriad of forms was here: pickled, raw, roasted, pureed and as a crispbread. The cheese flavour was well-balanced so as to let the cauliflower be the star of the show. I’ve not always enjoyed raw cauliflower in the past, but it worked so well as a component of this brilliantly-considered dish.

Cauliflower cheese

Then, a bit of theatre as the second chef’s snack followed. Leslie walked around the dining table, toting a pink egg carton for us each to pick an egg up out of. These were filled with an artichoke base, a wild mushroom and truffle puree, egg yolk and crispy chicken skin. These were incredible and I loved the juxtaposition of a delicate eggshell exterior packed with big, punchy flavours inside.

Snack #2: egg, wild mushroom and artichoke

Our next course was butter poached cod with cod roe taramasalata and crispy cod skin. The cod was perfect and, as ever, I loved the crispy skin with it. The taramasalata was far from the pink, salty gloop which springs to mind when you hear that word; it was the perfect complement to the fish.

Poached cod with cod roe taramasalata and crispy skin

I can’t decide if our next course was my favourite; I’m torn between it and the langoustines. Anyways, it was our final savoury course and the distribution of steak knives around the table by the [lovely] waiting staff piqued my interest. Moments later, a beautiful seared duck breast with hoisin sauce, pickled cucumber and sesame cashews was set down in front of me. I swooned at the first mouthful and was so glad for the generous portions.

Duck, hoisin sauce, pickled cucumber, sesame cashews

As my sauce-spattered plate was removed from the table when I was done, I was furious at myself for not stashing any more focaccia in case of further delicious sauces demanding mopping up, such as this hoisin. Rookie mistake.

Luckily, the rhubarb and custard dessert that arrived next was adequate consolation. I love it when Yorkshire rhubarb season rolls round and this little ray of sunshine was the perfect close to a great meal.

Rhubarb and custard

Alongside teas and coffees came pineapple marshmallows. They were brilliant, sticky and gooey in all the right ways. I didn’t detect much of the pineapple flavour but they were great marshmallows all the same, and just the sugary kick I fancied ahead of my drive home.

Pineapple marshmallows

At just £45 for the five courses (plus bread and two chef’s snacks), this is a really good value tasting menu. There was a wine flight as well, which I didn’t partake in because I’m still breastfeeding, but this was a very reasonable £30, with pairings for four of the courses. These were wines which are not from Brocco’s usual wine menu and instead were specifically selected to match with the food on the night.

Leslie’s enthusiasm and passion really come across in his food, and it was great to see a young chef being given the opportunity to work alongside him in creating these sublime dishes.

Many thanks to Leslie, Faye, Tiina and the Brocco team for having me as a guest at this excellent dinner. The next two Chef’s Table events are on Tuesday 17 March and Tuesday 21 April; places at these are already selling, so get in touch with Brocco if you’d like to join in the fun and enjoy some amazing food!

{Note: while I was invited along as a guest of Brocco, all words, photos and opinions are my own and I have maintained full editorial control of this post.} 

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