The Artichoke revisited

We first visited the Artichoke restaurant in Amersham a year ago, when we were struck by the very high quality of the cuisine and service. On something of a whim, we decided this half-term that it was high time to try it out again. In particular, we had heard that the Artichoke had recently expanded its premises into the adjacent building, and we were keen to see how this had changed the restaurant.

The Artichoke’s website offers three dining areas within the newly expanded restaurant: The Kitchen Dining Room with views of the restaurant’s kitchen, the Garden Dining Room with a kitchen garden theme and a Wine Room, upstairs. Having recently been engaged by recent Masterchef and Great British Menu TV series, we were keen to see the chefs at work, and requested a table in the Kitchen Dining Room.

On entering the Artichoke, you’re immediately aware that you’re not in any old restaurant. The service is elegant while being extremely slick. To our delight we’d be given the table right in front of the kitchen area, so prime views of the chefs were on hand. Within moments the chef himself arrived and greeted us personally – a lovely additional touch.

The menu contains a exquisite selection of meals, with 2 courses at £35 and 3 courses at £43.50.

Tara had young beets with shepton goat’s cheese, beetroot sorbet, lemon thyme, goat’s cheese mousse, rye bread, beetroot powder for the starter followed by pan fried fillet of cornish sea bass, lobster ravioli, spaghetti of vegetables, lobster bisque with saffron and orange for the main.

I had new season asparagus, herb emulsion, smoked and pickled quail eggs, dorset crab bonbons, crab and lemon dressing to start followed by breast of wood pigeon with hazelnut and truffle crust, wild garlic, pickled salisfy, morels, hazelnut cream for the main course.

While many restaurants describe their food in a fancy way these day, the food at the Artichoke really is a cut above the rest. In some ways this makes choosing courses quite liberating, as you can cast away any preconceptions of the meal, as you simply won’t have tried anything like it ever before.

Each dish was splendidly presented, and abounded with well considered mixtures of flavours. This was combined with outstanding service – this is the sort of place where you are never asked who is having which dish when they are brought to the table. It’s all impeccably done.

In-between courses, diners are also treated to palette cleansers, which included a Waldorf salad foam and later vanilla ice cream with passion fruit granita. Even these smallest of dishes were the greatest of treats.

Overall, the Artichoke is an excellent choice is you want to treat your taste buds to something special. Our bill came to £120 with a glass of wine each and desserts, so while out of budget for regular dining (for most people at least), it’s right at the top of our list of venues for marking a special occasion. Indeed, the couple on the table were doing just that in celebrating their 25th anniversary. We felt rather decadent not having done the same. But do we regret it? Not for a second. If you’ve not been to the Artichoke before – try it out – soon!

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