dines at Tuddenham Mill... The Great British Menu... Menu

By happy coincidence I found myself booked into Tuddenham Mill whilst Paul Foster, the Mill's Head Chef, appeared on the Great British Menu.  Even better, Paul's menu was already available to guests, and we were able to try the complete menu before some of the dishes had even aired.

Paul has spent time in some very impressive kitchens before moving to Tuddenham in 2010, and worked at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saison, at the eponymous Sat Bains, and had stages at The French Laundry and L'auberge de lille in Lyon.  Here his style is a combination of local and foraged ingredients, and modern techniques.  Tuddenham Mill itself is perched on a beautiful stretch of water, and has retained many of the traditional elements of the mill, whilst providing a modern dining experience.  On the night we ate this menu Paul wasn't actually in the kitchen, but he did cook us his tasting menu the following night, which is reviewed here.

Pork neck carpaccio, pork skin scratchings, 
croquette of pig's head, ribwort plantain purée, and budding chickweed
The pork neck carpaccio is delicious, as are the croquette, full of rich yet almost delicate flavour. By contrast the fine shaving of turnip was over-soused, and overwhelmed the radish, green apple and asparagus, which were raw. I have no problem with raw ingredients, actually I rather like them, but the contrast did mean that there wasn't as much cohesion to the dish as I might have expected, and distracted us from the pork. The ribwort plantain (which is sautéed with shallots and chicken stock) is lovely, but might have achieved a little more umami intensity.

Ray noodles, with chicken skin, foraged sea vegetables 
including stonecrop and sea aster, pea mousse and lemon gel

Next, by far the dish I was anticipating most - the barely cooked common ray, with chicken skin, foraged sea vegetables, pea mousse and lemon gel.  The ray is brined, and then barely poached in a water bath for 10 minutes at 48ºC.  The threads of flesh are then pulled from the fish like noodles, and plated in a brown butter and soy dressing.  I absolutely love this dish, couldn't fault it.  The ray is succulent, delicate and delicious.  The foraged elements work perfectly with the dish and are piquant, individual, but not overpowering.  The pea mousse is sweet, but also slightly earthy, and the chicken skin provides the umami element.  I've had fish with chicken several times before, but here it's up to you to combine the chicken in the quantity you want - and this for me makes the difference... It doesn't overpower the dish, it sits alongside it comfortably.  The lemon purée is mixed with a little agar then piped around the plate - it provides a clean hit of citrus, with a good mouthfeel.  This is one dish I will definitely make at home.

Goosnargh duck breast and hearts, broccoli, 
hazelnuts, and pink fir potatoes with douglas pine

The skin of the duck is blow-torched, before putting it in the water bath for 40 minutes at 60ºC.  The resulting breast is moist and delicious.  The hearts are very tender, and not too gamey, and they're served with a broccoli purée, and broccoli in a smoked garlic dressing.  The combination of the nuts with the purée is delicious.  The potatoes are vac packed with the douglas fir infused flavouring, and they do take-on the flavour successfully, but I think the dish is just as good without them.  

Whipped sea buckthorn, with Italian meringue, 
puffed rice, damson purée, ground ivy, and ginger syrup

Whipped sea buckthorn, with Italian meringue, puffed rice, and ginger syrup. The sea buckthorn juice is mixed with sugar and agar, then heated, before eggs are beaten into it.  The curd is then set and whipped. The flavour of the buckthorn is delicious - sweet and sour, almost like physalis, but more rounded out.  The blowtorched meringue adds a caramel flavour, and the puffed rice adds further texture.  I enjoyed the flavour of the sea buckthorn - the dish is sweet and sour, silky and crunchy, light but full of 'mouth feel'.

Overall I thought the least consistent dish in the menu was the starter, but purely because of the interaction of the ingredients.  The standout dish for me is of course the ray - it's a fantastic technique and brings out the best in the ingredients - I hope it remains on Paul's tasting menu for some time to come.  The tasting menu is though I think a better reflection of Paul's skills, and you can read about that here.

Tuddenham Mill
High Street 

Suffolk IP28 6SQ

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