Tom goes wild at La Brocca

La Brocca’s “Wild Weekend” sounded intriguing, so I raced down there as soon as I could only to find it wasn’t some kind of seedy NW6 orgy after all. (That was happening at Lower Ground Bar next door). Instead, this was Brocca’s celebration of “the best of wild autumn foods from our sea and forests; game, fish and vegetables including pheasant, venison, wild boar, rabbit, and wild porcini mushrooms” – wonderful.

So, holed-up in the characterful basement restaurant, which I’ve always liked, we browsed the menu, eager to see what it was all about. The specials were appetising; game, fish, soup… something for everyone.

I chose the sea bass, caper butter and wild mushroom risotto, sacrificing a starter in order to gorge myself on some very decent (and varied) breads, and marinated olives. The risotto was nice, but the sea bass superb – crispy skin to absolute perfection. One point deducted for cold plates and a couple of errors caused by the waiter not writing down our order, but strangely this seems the norm in restaurants these days – can anyone explain why?

As usual, I requested a salad on the side, as I know from experience that chef has a deft touch and knows how to dress leaves with respect. I also love the addition of avocado – one of those magical and quite unique ingredients.

Across the table, Jonathan dived into a vibrant wild mushroom, white wine and garlic sauce starter [J: it was absolutely delicious], then the hunter’s game pie on mash with green beans and gravy – which also proved to be a success, though he noted it was perhaps centred solely around venison rather than a combination of game. We both agreed the Chianti was a winner; smooth, soft, but with a subtle, bitter twist, not lacking a finish, and just very satisfying indeed.

On this occasion, I didn’t opt for a dessert – perhaps I’ll have two of them next time. The apple crumble is a particular favourite of mine.

The evening ended on a rather uncharacteristic note, however, when I returned to the upper bar and ordered . . . a glass of water. Yes, I acknowledge this was bizarre and rather worrying behaviour – however as I type I am enjoying a complex Crozes Hermitage; rumours of my liver’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Give me time though! 

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