Spinnaker Tower Skydining
Laura Cartledge previews a pop-up dining experience coming to the skies of Portsmouth.
Everyone knows the Spinnaker Tower.
It is an iconic Portsmouth landmark, a favourite with visitors and from this month a restaurant boasting a view unlike any other.
The pop-up, running on Friday evenings from July 22-August 12, is called ‘Sky Dining with Stephanie Moon’ with the award-winning chef at the helm admitting ‘it is a real honour’.
And the fact it is situated 100 metres above sea level seems very fitting when you hear how high she is setting the bar.
“It has been a real thrill to learn about the diverse Hampshire produce,” admitted Stephanie at the special pre-view launch.
“I am a farmer’s daughter so local food is really important to me.”
Proof of this isn’t just in the pudding of the seven-course tasting menu – it brims from every plate.
“The quality speaks for itself, the fish is sublime, the lamb was stunning and that fudge – oh my goodness that fudge, that is so good,” she enthuses.
“As soon as I saw it I knew I had to have it on the menu.
“I did a lot of research, and I have since learnt I should have put some watercress in there,” she smiles.
This may be true, but you don’t feel like you are going without.
The canapés alone included Solent mackerel with torched cucumber and fresh wasabi, Hampshire beetroot with cherry, parsley blinis and soured cream, as well as belly pork with smoky bacon jam, pasta pansotti and maple glaze.
Plus my personal favourite of cauliflower, summer truffle oil and sweetcorn beautifully presented in delicate eggshells and served with brioche soldiers.
Next up was an ‘amuse’ of chalk stream trout, lemon verbena, turnip, pear which packed serious flavour, before the starter of seared scallop, Isle of Wight crab, Solent seabass, butter lettuce, tomato, fresh peas, borage and wood sorrel served on another, albeit nautical, shell.
“The seabass was caught in the Solent and it just shone when it came in it was that fresh,” Stephanie revealed.
With it being clear that careful consideration had been given to appearance, I ask where Stephanie stands on the food photographs trend other chefs have spoken out about.
“It doesn’t bother me,” she confesses. “If people want to take a picture of my food I am honoured. And if they don’t, and just want to get stuck in, I am happy too.”
Joy was an apt description for the whole occasion. Not only had Stephanie obviously relished putting the dishes together, but the guests’ smiles grew as the night went on.
In short it felt like a celebration, and it
was, with the food and its suppliers given centre stage.
A palette cleanser of lemon sorbet followed, making way for the main course of Hampshire South Downs lamb cutlet, sticky braised lamb, bon bon carrot anise puree, fèves, courgette and potato terrine.
“You can’t risk it when you have something like the lamb, you have to slow cook it – we do it overnight,” reveals Stephanie, explaining her aim was to balance ‘showing an element of skill like making your own pasta’ and allowing the ingredients to shine.
“The fact Spinnaker is highlighting the suppliers as much as anything else means a lot,” she says.
Dessert and the sweets finale, accompanied by a choice of freshly-ground Southsea
coffee or Portsmouth tea, boasted quality and quantity.
A clever combination of Isle of Wight strawberries joined peach panacotta,
Cloud 9 ice cream, peach flambé, strawberry elderflower jelly, meringue, fresh basil and strawberry confetti. But somehow we still found room for the Fordingbridge sea-salted caramel fudge, chocolate-dipped cherries and a fun Pimms’ ice-lolly.
While the exclusive event, which starts from £80 per head, has a limited run, Stephanie wants to encourage others to eat local long term.
“We are putting recipes on the website, for us it is an open book,” she agreed. “There is nothing new, our grandparents have all cooked it and I think some chefs that are over-secretive are prima donnas.”
So, will Stephanie be returning for
“That all depends on how it goes,”
she replies. “But if I do, watercress will be on the menu.”
Tables are available to book by calling 02392 857 520. Prices start from £80 per head with additional drinks packages available. This event has limited availability and therefore early booking is recommended. To find out more, visit www.spinnakertower.co.uk
June 30, 2016 Food and Drink