A F T E R S
starter (£9.50) had swapped its summery watermelon platefellow for more autumnal butternut squash gnocchi. The preciselycooked scallops were light and creamy in texture and flavour, and sat on a bed of subtle sweetcorn purée, with shards of crispy salmon skin adding bite. The gnocchi wasn’t great; dry and stodgy, it took some chewing, but the other elements were good – and of a generous portion. The second starter was described as ‘roast beef carpaccio’ (£8), so not carpaccio as you’d traditionally encounter it (as raw meat). Instead, rare-cooked beef was sliced super-thinly in that way that’s so difficult to achieve in a domestic kitchen at home. Lined up in a row, the slices were topped with pickled shallots, herby salsa verde, Old Winchester cheese and drizzles of a light, lemony sauce. Despite my chum later admitting that he missed the thrill and texture of the raw meat he was hoping for (someone hadn’t read the description properly), he swiftly wolfed this starter down in a handful of mouthfuls, the balanced tang of the salsa verde and pickled shallots cutting through the meat and forming a pokey, balanced mix of flavours. Next, the sweet potato and spinach cannelloni (£14.50) carried a hefty, crunchy herb crust on top of it, while a mix of aubergine and pine nut hid beneath. The idea was a nice one; a mix of sweet, bitter and earthy flavours, with crunch from the pine nut and that lightly browned crust. The filling-to-pasta ratio was perhaps not in my favour, though; there was a lot of sweet
potato to get through inside the single layer of pasta. Perhaps a few smaller filled tubes would have worked better than a large, single cannellone. Across the table, the locally caught hake from the specials board (£16) was the favourite dish of the meal; the fish itself was great-quality, came covered in a thick herb crust and had been cooked really nicely. It was presented in an intriguing fashion, surrounded by hasselback potatoes – their golden, flavoursome skin fanning out impressively – and sat on a purée of lesserspotted parsley root. This veg, which the chef happily incorporated into his dishes following a local glut, had also been sliced, pickled, and presented as crunchy curls on the side. A good and interesting dish. This place has an experienced pastry chef, and the resulting puds have been created to fit in well with the rest of the menu and the concept of the dining experience. The rich and spongy sticky toffee and Butcombe ale pudding (£6.25) was a good quality version of the pub classic, while the pistachio treacle tart with crème fraiche and candied orange powder (£6.50) repped the more restaurantstyle offering. The Mill is a handsome, friendly pub with great staff and a more ambitious menu than your average watering hole. We’ll be keeping an eye on how it develops as part of this growing family of pubs.
The Mill, Rode, Somerset BA11 6AG; 01373 831100; butcombe.com
Published on Sep 29, 2017