I spoke to a charming elderly gentleman in the dining room at Verzon House. He reminisced about the previous owners generosity towards him when his wife had to go into care. He told me how grand the dining room had been, with it’s polished wooden tables, how there was always warm bread and butter, small squares of smoked salmon sandwiches when you ordered a drink at the bar, and how the double G&Ts were actually double doubles. He also said that he had to forget all of that. This is a lovely new place, a different place, the food is still wonderfully good, and the other place is just a memory.
We talked across the empty dining room before our meals, and the other diners, arrived.
I had the The Verzon Burger, Triple Cooked Chips, Three Cabbage Coleslaw. It arrived, attractively presented on a mica slate, the chips in a cute little pan, and everything a little bit too neatly balanced for my fat hands and need for mayonnaise.
The two little white dishes contained the coleslaw made of savoy, red cabbage and carrot, with a peppery aftertaste, and a light salsa with the unmistakable flavours of fresh runner beans, red onion and olive oil.
In their sweet little pan sat the big fat triple cooked chips, with a gently crispy exterior and a white soft centre.
The battered onion slices, like tasty onion petals, were perfect (and, I think, preferable to onion rings) – slightly salted batter, crisp and light, encasing sweet juicy white onion.
A beautifully seasoned and sweet Hereford beef burger sat beneath two slices of ripe red tomato and some simple green lettuce, in a soft white glazed bun which was topped with sesame and poppy seeds. The burger had a gently sweet and sticky caramelised outer, having been glazed with a local real ale caramel and cooked to perfection on the Josper Grill.
For pudding I couldn’t resist the Tonka Bean Panna Cotta with Poached Cherries. I’ve had Tonka before, a couple of years ago, in the Czech Republic, but the language barrier didn’t allow me full understanding of what I was eating, and the enjoyment soon overtook the need to know. Then I forgot to look it up.
Like a stronger tasting vanilla, Tonka beans are related to peas and look like shrivelled and rolled rabbit droppings. According to Wikipedia the use of Tonka beans in the food industry is banned in the US. Oooo!
Still, I enjoyed the most deliciously creamy and smooth Panna Cotta I’ve ever eaten. It really was perfect. The Tonka flavour is sweet and rich without being overpowering. The balance with the alcohol laced poached dark cherries really was quite delightful, and I managed to eat all of the velvety goodness, of course!
Thank you Verzon House for a delicious meal, Head Chef Callum McDonald, you’ve done it again!