The Oak Bar and Bistro Review -Tuesday 17th January 2017
‘Out with the old and in with the new as the Oak Bar and Bistro, represented by Jamie Macmahon, hosts the first Wirral Young Chef of the Year event 2017’
The newly refurbished ‘Oak Bar and Bistro’ in Greasby (formerly Ellie’s Bistro) opened it’s doors to welcome diners to the first Wirral Young Chef of the Year event 2017.
New father and daugther hosts (Tim and Cat) have relaunched this eaterie with a clear determination to attract customers who are there for the food on the plate, a warm welcome and relaxed dining and drinking experience, a refreshing approach that clearly suits the community (and beyond) which it will serve.
Our young chef, Jamie Macmahon, has entered the competition for the second year in succession and has clearly spent the last 12 months improving not only his technical skills but also his understanding of how to produce well thought-out, well balanced and extremely well presented plates of food, as you will now discover!
To Start: Trio of Crab (Crab Bisque, Crab Fritter, Crab and Pink Grapefruit Salad)
If you needed to see any evidence that Jamie has made leaps and bounds with his cooking then look no further than the starter! His ‘Crab Thee Ways’ proved to be a masterclass in how to take a simple, locally sourced commodity and fashion it into an exraordinary dish that had depth of understanding (the bisque), a dimension and contrast of textures (the crab fritter) and a refreshing lightness (the salad) which when eaten together highlighted the pristine cooking of this delightful crustacean. The smear of apple purée served with the crab fritter was to start a theme that ran throughout the meal, an innovation that was thoughful rather than done just for the sake of it-clever cooking indeed!
Main Course: Pork and Clams ( Braised pork cheeks on a bed of Portuguese potatoes served with baby leeks, creamed cabbage with pancetta and a pork jus flavoured with a hint of apple)
Wow! I know I need to write more, however that single word would sum up this exquisite main course. The pork cheek turned out to be the very definition of slow cooked perfection, falling apart by just showing it a fork, this melt in your mouth, underused part of the animal, complimented by luscious, apple-boosted gravy, was the undoubted star of the main course. Served alongside creamy cabbage and fresh tumescent clams, this dish would not be out of place in a fine dining, city centre restaurant. My favourite course of the night!
Dessert: Textures of Apple (Apple cheesecake, apple sorbet, apple gel)
To finish ‘Textures of Apple’, an apple cheesecake (containing tiny pieces of apple which provided texture), with a crumbly shortbread style base served alongside a refreshing red apple sorbet, sugar twirl and apple crisp on a plate that had been dotted carefully with jewels of green apple gel –this dessert was both on trend and delicious and of course completed the apple theme so subtle in the first two courses yet clearly dominating the final dish, proving that Jamie had indeed proved that use of a single ingredient in each course, when done correctly, is not a brave decision but a genius one! A great end to the meal!
Tonight proved that serious food does not need to be served by armies of serious waiters or snowfalls of white, freshly starched linen, in fact the term ‘family service’ could have been invented for this eaterie and it really is worth taking a look at what Jamie and his colleagues are doing at the Oak. There were minor errors (for example the main course plates were a little on the cold side), however this hidden gem in Greasby has ambition, style and grace, but above all great food…why not give it a try?
Well done Jamie and good luck in the cook-off which takes place on Monday 2nd April at Wirral Metropolitan College.
Tony Boustead (College Manager-Hospitality & Catering)
Find the Oak Bar and Bistro on Facebook.