People don't really think of the East Midlands as a foodie hotspot but it's definitely on the up. Of course we have Sat Bains waving the flag for us with his gorgeous two star restaurant in Nottingham (read my review here) and Fishers at Baslow Hall in Derbyshire where incidentally, John Duffin (head chef and the John of John's House) took up his first serious role as Chef de Partie at age 21.
Some time around Christmas I managed to get a table for March - to coincide with my mums birthday and finally, the date rolled around. We took the liberty of a leisurely glass of bubbles at her house before strolling down to the restaurant for lunch.
I have to admit I was surprised when I saw the lunch menu on account of how limited it is. No vegetarian option available unless you pre-order and only two choices per course. I've eaten lunch at several fine dining restaurants (such a good value way of eating michelin meals!) and I would have expected three choices. Unfortunately, my criticism doesn't stop there. The choice for both starters and mains was fish and beef.
After devouring the most delicious bread and whipped butter, we looked forward to our starters. My stepdad had the Braised Oxtail, Oxtail Broth, English Mustard and Crispy Barley. Being a big meat lover, he was the only one who opted for beef on both courses. I got to try a small amount of the broth (which was delicious) but he gobbled up the rest before I could snaffle some. Suffice to say, it was apparently delicious.
The rest of us opted for the Lightly Smoked Loch Duart Salmon, Oyster, Cucumber and Horseradish Cream and oh my goodness, it was sublime. The oyster emulsion and horseradish cream brought a sharp, saltiness to the soft fish, making this a dish that I'll remember. It was certainly comparable to some of the best Michelin food I've eaten elsewhere.
For mains, Andy, Dave and I went for the Beef Short Rib in Chinese Five Spice with Charred Sweetcorn, Spring Onion and Pak Choi. Mum had the Poached Fillet of Cornish Pollock with Mussels, Barley and Samphire.
As you can see, every dish was stunningly presented - true works of art on the plate. But, on taste, the mains did fall a little short on expectation. The beef was cooked to varying degrees - Dave's was perfect but mine and Andy's were a little tough, it seems like they needed cooking just a bit longer to really make the meat melt in the mouth. The charred sweetcorn and vegetables were a delight though and the Chinese five spice and rich meaty jus were perfect and a little bit different.
Mums dish was very pretty to look at but sadly, once that beautifully poached fish and the mussels had been eaten, all that remained was a seemingly endless sea of stodgy barley. She was disappointed with it and understandably so.
We shared a couple of puddings between us - the names escape me and I wasn't clever enough to take a copy of the menu ((bad food blogger). Some kind of rice pudding with poached fruit and Yorkshire rhubarb with a sherry vinegar ice cream. They were both lovely but not mind-blowing. Andy asked for cream to go alongside his pudding rather than the ice cream offered but was told they had no cream in the house. A few minutes later, some was found for him but a bit of a fuss was made.
I don't like to criticise and I'll always give credit where it's due but for me, John's House, whilst being a lovely dining experience, didn't quite live up to the Michelin experience we'd hoped for. It was a special lunch and we really enjoyed ourselves but at close to £200 for four people, I'm not sure the price tag was appropriate.
Michelin starred? On this occasion - almost but not quite.
139-141 Loughborough Road, Mountsorrel, Loughborough. LE12 7AR (map)
For more ideas on where to eat around the Midlands, check out my Pinterest board:
*We paid for our meal at John's House and they did not know that I was planning to review our experience. All opinions are my own (with some input from mother as always).*