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It takes enormous amounts of hard work to seem effortless, and with this in mind, there appears to be a lot of ‘effortlessness’ at Ellie’s Bistro in Greasby, the final venue for part one of the Wirral Young Chef 2016 competition, where chef Jamie Macmahon gave us a classy, intensely likeable meal demonstrating some extremely assured cooking.

Ellie’s bistro has a real community feel to it, and as we entered we were immediately hit by the ‘soft purr’ of seemingly happy diners. Our enthusiastic waiting staff were attentive and before too long we were provided with Jamie’s menu containing ingredients that really were an expression of the landscape at this time of year. We were also impressed that Jamie had gone to the trouble of creating a vegetarian starter and main course to sit alongside dishes designed for the carnivores amongst us, which clearly showed an understanding of his client base and their dietary needs.

To start: Pan seared scallops served with cauliflower purée and red pepper mousse (or goats cheese and beetroot salad with walnuts, watercress and rocket)

The starter really set the tone for the rest of the meal with delicious and succculent pan-seared scallops served on teardrop curls of cauliflower purée and red pepper mousse. The dish was dressed with an earthy vinaigrette and garnished with textures of chorizo-ingredients carefully introduced to each other with great effect-what a start!

Main Course: Welsh rack of lamb, celeriac purée, boulangère potatoes, chantenay carrots, purple sprouting broccoli and port jus ( Butternut squash risotto)

Jamie’s main course of perfectly cooked lamb sat upon a clean and smooth base of celeriac purée alongside carrots, purple sprouting broccoli and boulangère potatoes with a depth of flavour that was second to none was the highlight of the meal, and the unctuous sticky port jus brought everything together in such a way that you didn’t want this course to end.

Dessert: Rhubarb and custard cheesecake

And so to the final course, an uncompromising dessert packed with flavour with a scoop of glorious ‘fruit salad’ flavoured ice-cream bringing back childhood ‘tuck shop’ memories but with a distinctly adult feel and a perfect end to a really well balanced meal.

In a restaurant world where lots of eateries are keen to offer small plates, tasting menus, sharing plates and food served on slates and boards, it is refreshing to visit a place like Ellie’s Bistro that serves food cooked by a young man who clearly know’s what he’s doing, producing flavoursome food using locally sourced ingredients with perfect combinations and dishes that proved to be real crowd pleasers!

Well done Jamie and good luck in the cook-off which takes place on Monday 4th April at Wirral Metropolitan College.

Tony Boustead (College Manager-Hospitality & Catering)

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