Top management at the Midlands’ famous Granny Mouse Country House recently put a challenge to their Sous and pastry chefs – choose a theme, see what you can come up with, and create a menu worthy of The Eaves (Granny Mouses’ five star, five course, fine dining restaurant). Natasha Freeman was invited along with the Who’s Who of food and lifestyle writing in Durban, to taste the results.
With the head chef on leave, the three Jr chefs collaborated to create a menu that was not only memorable to the palate but brave. The theme: an infusion. The focus: locally made craft beer from the Nottingham Road Brewing Company (also famous – not least for its unique brew monikers: Whistling Weasel, Tiddly Toad, Pickled Pig Porter). The result: an infusion menu enhanced and complimented by a spectrum of light ale to dark stout flavours. No small task. However, twenty-seven days later a series of dishes emerged that showed clever ingenuity and culinary creativity precisely of the standard expected from the five star Granny Mouse kitchen.
Senses and Tastebuds
Matching individual beer varieties with complimentary flavours is a particularly difficult task in that only very specific foods can be enhanced or truly complimented by the ale spectrum. But when the chefs got it right, the food sang, and if you sipped the particular brew used to infuse the dish you were tasting, flavours would light up your senses like a Christmas Tree.
The taste test group agreed: the Deconstructed Prawn Chowder infused with Pickled Pig Porter, and the Pork and Chicken Roulade, also infused with Pickled Pig Porter should be added to the permanent rotation menu immediately. The dessert – a bold collection of unique and traditional flavours (rootbeer, bacon ice cream, beer soaked koeksisters) was also a huge hit. There was little not to admire about the task and the results. As well as from such fresh faced chefs who clearly know their ingredients and shine under creative culinary pressure.
Fine Dining Deconstructed
Granny Mouse Assistant GM, Mouton du Toit, conversed about the boundaries of fine dining and how Granny Mouse seeks to expand those boundaries in people’s minds. “There is a certain stigma around fine dining that we would like to deconstruct. At Granny Mouse, The Eaves is indeed a child-free, fine dining experience, but it is not intended to carry the ego and performance that stereotypically accompanies a five-course fine dining experience. Exclusivity, cozy comfort, quality, excellence, hospitality and of course a memorable culinary experience are of utmost importance to the Granny Mouse experience. And should you have children, you can still receive the five course fine dining meal in the Bistro, with your children.”
The bottom line is that Granny Mouse rarely disappoints. Even if you don’t want to try The Eaves, the relaxed Bistro atmosphere will likely leave you feeling happily content with an equally full belly. The armchairs hug around you and the thatched cottages beckon you to come, sit, relax, enjoy. And whether you stay for a week, a weekend, or have just come for the day, you can leave knowing you have enjoyed one of the finest dining experiences in the Midlands, in a relaxed welcoming atmosphere catered by chefs who without a doubt, know their craft.