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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Event: Meantime Beer and Food Pairing at The Orange

The Orange on Urbanspoon
I have been to The Orange on one other occasion last year, after a long 'Boris Bike' ride. This was the perfect place to sum up a quintessential London day. Moments from Sloan Square in serene surroundings The Orange, with its white-wash wood panel interior and delicious beers also serves very creative and enticing dishes. So when I was invited to attend their first ever Food and Beer pairing event, I was more than excited.

In the weeks leading up to the night, I read an interesting article in Scout magazine called "London's Brewing" talking about how beer is undergoing a major overhaul at the hands of London's top chefs and restaurants. This however, is more of a revival of the old ways when back in the day beer was a natural accompaniment to some dishes dating back as far as the16th Century. The article reinforced that The Orange's new food and beer event was very much on trend.

On arrival we were warmly greeted and given a glass of Meantime Pale Ale to start the night. Meantime brewery is still quite new in the scheme of things, having only been founded in the year 2000. However, it is already the second largest brewer in London after Fuller's, and we were going to taste five of their beers, one for each course served; Meantime London Lager, Meantime Wheat Beer, Meantime Stout, Meantime London Pale Ale, Meantime Chocolate Porter.
The Menu
Each course was preceded by a brief discussion and description from the Executive chef from The Orange, the Head Brewer and the Sommelier from Meantime. The food was carefully described and the beer pairing elements explained. And what a feast it was!

English asparagus & Lancashire Bomb tart, asparagus salad
Starting with the asparagus and Lancashire Bomb tart, I immediately could tell that the meal was not only going to be delicious, it was also going to be very filling. The portions well thought out, yet quite generous. The first course was served with a Meantime London Lager. A crisp and clean flavour, the hops in this lager enabled it to stand up to the strong flavour of the cheese.    
Steamed Anglesey mussels, smoked bacon, endive & beer sauce
Steamed Anglesey mussels came next paired with the Meantime Wheat Beer. With a frothy mouthfeel and fruity aromas the beer gave a very welcoming taste sensation when mixed with the muscles. Overall I found the dish slightly on the heavy side however, with the creamy mussels the bread and the bacon, and was a little alarmed that it was only course two.
Braised beef cheek & bacon pie, shallots, wild mushrooms & bone marrow jus

Admiral Collingwood washed rind cheese, water crackers
The braised beef cheek and bacon pie that came out next was a little bit of a masterpiece on a plate. Perfectly golden, it was rich on the inside and adorned with shallots and bone marrow jus on the outside. The Meantime Stout paired with this dish was another stand out and my favourite beer of the night. Velvety on the tongue with coffee aromas it was the perfect accompaniment with this dish. Both rich in flavour and in body, very down to earth and very satisfying.  Apparently the Stout would also go great with Oysters, something I will have to try.
Cheese was the next course paired with Meantime London Pale Ale.  This semi-soft cheese has a lovely rich, buttery taste, but for me became slightly too strong after an already rich meal. 
Valrhona fair trade dark chocolate & Meantime Chocolate Porter mousse, coffee shortbread
Dessert was served with Meantime Chocolate Porter. This beer however is not entirely just a dessert beer. In fact as per the head brewer, it would also go well with casseroles, stews and Mexican food! Tonight however it is served with a Chocolate Porter mousse, and the two really compliment eachother. I am not one for drinking beer with dessert, but this deep dark chocolate flavour is unique. The mousse was also rich and fluffy with just a hint of the Porter to add body to the dish. I clearly don't need to point out that I was stuffed to the brim.

The service was attentive and outstanding. The Hosts, the Executive Chef and the representatives from Meantime were all very knowledgeable and approachable. Not only did they present each dish with deep background, they were also able to answer questions while walking around the tables during dinner. Needless to say they were very interesting.

The Orange is very keen to keep this event going throughout the year, and even though I was a guest on this night, I would have been more than happy to pay the £50. For the quantity of beer and the quality of food it would be hard to find such value elsewhere, especially around this neighbourhood.

Do get in touch with Marine Coltier (Event Manager) at the Orange for further event and date details.

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