Gourmet at The RoyalI recently had the pleasure of attending the first Gourmet Evening at The Royal Hotel, Ventnor under the talented tenure of new Head Chef Steven Harris. Unsure of quite what to expect, what unfolded was an evening of clever concoctions, delectable flavours and convivial company, describes Cath Ouston.  

This was the first of the monthly Gourmet Evenings being planned by Steven Harris. The aim is to demonstrate the full range of skills and knowledge that the team has to offer and will provide an opportunity for the chefs to create dishes that they can’t normally make. “The whole team will be involved,” explains Steven, “the boys in the kitchen will all have an opportunity to play and suggest dishes for the menu. It will help to develop and stretch their skills and creativity.”  The hope is that the evening will attract food lovers everywhere who are passionate about food, enjoy talking about the food and wines in front of them and create something akin to a dining club.

At £80 per head this is excellent value for money. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly and shown into the cosy lounge area where we were served a flute of delicious champagne and canapés. The mini Yorkshire puds filled with steak tartare were particularly good. We were then lead to the dining area where our table of ten was made up of an interesting mix of people from a mycologist and hotel owner to a holiday centre manager and a London banker. The one binding thing we all had in common was a love of great food and wine and an evening of fabulous company ensued.

The seven courses were beautifully balanced, becoming stronger in flavour course by course. Each dish was accompanied by a different wine; selected carefully for the way it complemented and enhanced the combination of flavours on the plate. Several of the plates had an innovative element to them, adding a sense of anticipation as you wondered what was about to arrive. The roast potato ice cream was a new one on me. It was served as an accompaniment to homemade corn beef and wasabi and was surprisingly delicious with a soft, savoury semifreddo style finish. And yes, it tasted just like roast potatoes. The potato and cuttlefish risotto with squid ink and saffron aioli was another innovative dish. Using potato as the starchy element to form the risotto base and coloured with black-as-night squid ink this had a delicious combination of flavours. The Lemon verbena snow ball was a refreshing and tangy palate cleanser, formed of a perfect sphere of lemon verbena sorbet, wrapped in a layer of marshmallow, and sprinkled with pure white coconut.

With monthly Gourmet Evenings planned and numbers limited to 18 seats, these are sure to become a favourite fixture on the Islands foodie scene. So book your place before they all get snapped up!

For more details visit the Events page at www.royalhoteliow.co.uk