Thursday, 14 March 2013

Top Food in Tabb's Restaurant, Truro, Cornwall. Heston Blumenthalish Inventions. Cornish Hog's Pudding is on a par with the best sausages in the world. Prize-winning local Knightor wine and hog's pudding from St Austell.

Tabb’s restaurant has a very good reputation, and lives up to it.  Nigel Tabb, 48, from Connor Downs, trained at Cornwall College and the famed Langan’s Brasserie in London before returning in 1991 to open a restaurant in Portreath and subsequently in Truro in 2005.

Dining in his restaurant is a culinary experience right from the start, with a surprise complimentary amuse-bouche mushroom soup with wild garlic and truffle oil.  The menu is varied, interesting and imaginative. Cornish hog’s pudding with scallops, hake, pork belly, ballantine of pork and duck, venison, guinea fowl and breast of duck with confit gizzards are all on the menu.  Confit garlic, thyme jus, polenta, sauce vierge, star anise gravy, chick pea or spring onion hash, chorizo, chive cream and crushed chickpeas are just some of the accompaniments.  There is no extra charge for vegetables including wonderful courgettes and potatoes infused with smoked paprika oil. 

Barbecued hog's pudding 
Cornish hog’s pudding is on a par with the great sausages of the world.  It is spicy and made from pork, oatmeal, suet, barley, black pepper, cumin, basil and garlic.  Rather like the secret ingredients that go into Worcester sauce, specialist butchers down here keep their recipes under lock and key.  Some versions contain offal such as lung and liver.  Nigel  sources a prize-winning hog’s pudding from St Austell Quality Meats, which is delicious with snow peas, onion purée and a girolle mushroom reduction.

Make room for puddings even if you don’t have room: favourites like chocolate marquise and sticky toffee pudding are joined by inventive Heston Blumenthalish inventions of Nigel’s: lime and Earl Grey cheesecake or cardamom parfaits, cream cheese or black treacle ice-creams, strawberry and black pepper sorbet; everything is home-made.  

Do not judge a book by its cover: the outside of the restaurant is unprepossessing and not quite in the centre of Truro, but inside the cooking is revelatory.  You can sit beside the fire with an aperitif while studying the menu, which is astonishing for a restaurant of this small size.   Nigel’s partner, Debbie Thorn, the maître d’, is charming and informative, the chairs are comfortable, the service is good and the food is hot, fresh, locally sourced and delicious.  The wine list is international including a Lebanese vintage wine and local 2012 prizewinner Trevanion wine from Knightor Winery near St Austell.  There is not even a service charge in this top quality restaurant. Tabb’s Restaurant has deservedly been awarded 2 AA Rosettes.

Cornish Quality Meats,
14  Old Vicarage Place
St. Austell
PL25 5YY
 01726 719 99

Champion speciality hog's pudding can be obtained online from Primrose Herd, Redruth,  for £3.50 for approximately 300g. Their own description follows:                       

BPEX REGIONAL ROADSHOW 2011 Traditional Cornish white pudding made from secret recipe using a combination of herbs and spices. Is cooked in a natural casing and can be eaten hot or cold. Additive and preservative free.