Dining Out: Alex Perkins at Bridge Cottage, Sandsend: Twist on traditional brings colour to coast
Tucked away in a small hamlet at the entrance to Mulgrave Woods is this perhaps locally little known gem that should really be shining and shouting from the quaint Sandsend cottage rooftops.
And in time so it should, especially now that a rebrand has seen renowned chef Alex Perkins stamp his own name, quite literally, on the place.
Known previously as Woodlands Eat, the bistro, converted from old estate buildings, is now known as Alex Perkins at Bridge Cottage Bistro.
A clever move by Perkins whose reputation follows him from the White Horse & Griffin and Blue Bicycle at York.
Just as clever is his cooking which brings city-style cuisine to the coast and country.
It isn’t platefuls of greasy fish and chips, there aren’t lashings of beer to wash it down and desserts are not piled so high with ice cream you can barely see over the top of them.
What you do get here are dishes that tap into their local surroundings for inspiration, and mixtures of complex ingredients bursting with flavours for a unique dining experience.
A quick peruse of the menu, chalked on a blackboard each day because it changes daily dependent on local supplies, is testament to that.
Options for starters include potted shrimps, homemade sourdough bread and pickled cucumber, cuttlefish croquettes with minted pea puree.
On another day you might find Whitby sea trout with beetroot cure and fennel or Mussel popcorn and a dashing of rapeseed lemon Mayo.
For a main we were tempted by Radford’s steak with Bearnaise sauce and chips, Duck leg with lentils in red wine with celeriac chips, Dover sole and asparagus and, again depending on what is fresh that day, you will find variations of a beetroot risotto, goats curd and garden pesto or lobster.
While we deliberated over the menu, home-made bread and goats cheese butter was brought to our table to whet the appetite and what a combination. Less creamy than butter and a milder flavour than traditional goats cheese – this works.
We opted for potted shrimps and the cuttlefish croquettes to start with followed by steak and duck for main courses.
The shrimps were fresh and sharp in flavour but worked with the bread and the cuttlefish was an interesting alternative to usual fish starters, both in taste and presentation.
It was intensely dark in colour and fleshy but paired well with the crunchy texture of the home-made bread crumbs.
Service on the night was efficient, friendly and familiar and, most noticeable, extremely knowledgeable about the food and its source.
The steak, which at £25 was the more expensive on the menu, was justified.
It was a more than fair sized cut of meat and asking for it to be cooked rare really did melt in the mouth. The duck at £14 equally fell off the bone and was deep in flavour with the jus, and the celeriac chips were a successful healthy alternative.
To finish we were offered lime posset with cardamon dark chocolate, malt ice-cream, Eton mess and again another ‘twist’ on the traditional –brown bread ice-cream. It is apparently an old fashioned method of using up everything in the kitchen but I think Perkins has already got that nailed.
OVERALL RATING: 8