Lee Bye certainly knows his carrots
13th March 2017
Nicola Miller fromrecently visited us for lunch, read her review here:
Can you get a freshly cooked three course lunch plus bread and canapes for £22.50 per person in any of the town’s chain restaurants? I think not. Yet drive a few miles out to Tuddenham Mill where award-winning chef Lee Bye (who also writes for WOW24/7) cooks a set lunch every day for customers who know a good thing when they eat it, and that’s what you will pay.
Overlooking a mill pond and the surrounding countryside, the comfortable and spacious dining room isn’t so stuffed shirt that you feel uncomfortable rocking up after booking on the spur of the moment as we did one Monday lunchtime.
Bye’s food is rooted in the landscape, strongly influenced by his experiences helping his own grandfather grow fruit and vegetables, and it soon becomes clear that this chef knows what to do with a carrot.
Clem’s carrots came with guinea fowl, a smooth, bold green puddle of nero barley, a cube of pig’s head so dinky I wanted to take it home as a pet, wild honey and agretti (monks beard).
Dear God, I’d have paid double figures for a plate of those roots alone but their honeyed sweetness in contrast to the squeaky and salty stems of agretti blew us away. I plan to return so I can sneak into the kitchen and torture the secret of how he cooked those carrots out of him. Or maybe asking nicely might work better.
Starters of Fenland cauli soup with crispy artichokes, apple and chives and a generous piece of chalk stream trout dotted with smoked cod’s roe, nasturtium leaves and soft cucumber spears marked winter’s handover to spring, bright and light on the plate ensuring we were able to do full justice to the puddings, which ran the gamut from a delicate Cox apple, buttermilk and baklava to something more filling; a banana and olive oil pudding with sea salt toffee, a scoop of cinnamon ice cream and fat, whisky-soaked raisins.
By now the wind had got up, the millpond was rilled with small waves and the resident swans had tucked their heads firmly under their wings. It was time to leave, well-bolstered against the cold and with a wallet barely dented.