A fresh start for The Old Bakery
The fine dining restaurant with rooms is under new ownership, with exciting new dishes, tasting menu and Chef’s Table experience. Caroline Bingham visited for lunch.
The restaurant on Burton Road, Lincoln has been a favourite with locals as well as some notable celebrities who dined there under the previous ownership of chef/patron Ivano de Serio. Ivano and his family have returned to Italy after Lincoln College, with support from the Town’s Fund, purchased the business as part of their HEART programme to further provide opportunities for their students and the hospitality sector in the city.
Head chef Barry Dawson, who is now in his eighth year at The Old Bakery, has been given free rein to devise new menus and along with general manager Chris Wilson relaunched the business just before Christmas.
“We opened on 1st December,” said Chris, “and have been delighted with customer numbers and feedback we are getting already. Barry has devised a menu which focusses on local produce, served in dishes which reflect modern British cuisine. Light and clean on the palate, we wanted the menus to be accessible and served to encourage diners to try all the courses.”
The wine menu has been designed to be equally accessible. Chris recommended Talisman Dry Furmint from Hungary, which had rounded citrus fruit notes and a drier finish which was perfect to accompany the fish dishes I chose. For those who enjoy a cocktail, Chris is working in partnership with the award-winning mixologists at the Strait and Narrow to provide a selection.
reception and drinks seating now in the first area as you enter the restaurant. Further on there is an area which can be used for private dining or the Chef’s Table experience, and the dining rooms are to the rear of the building and the conservatory.
The à la carte menu has a choice of five dishes for each course and is available at lunchtime and in the evening. I have to say it all looked very tempting and I was plate gazing to spot dishes other diners had ordered. I opted for cured salmon and smoked kipper served with turnip, apple, dill cream cheese, oats, squash and eel sauce. My companion chose Lincoln Blue Cheese mousse with black garlic, soured radicchio, cauliflower couscous and sweet onion. You can find details of the other starter dishes on the restaurant website. While we waited for our starters to arrive, we enjoyed focaccia and bread rolls baked on the premises.
The fish and vegetable elements of my dish were finely cubed and mixed, served with translucent discs of turnip, on the sauce and topped with the cream cheese. Light and with contrasts of fresh flavours and bite this was an excellent appetiser and palate cleanser in one. The blue cheese mousse was a richer option but thoroughly enjoyed for the sharp notes of the radicchio and onion.
Our main courses were roast cod loin served with baby potato, lemon creamed savoy cabbage and crispy kale for me and 14hr blade of beef, served with burnt red onion, roast carrot, potato and rosemary cake and pickled walnut ketchup for my fellow diner. The fish was perfectly cooked with an excellent sauce tying the elements together with a subtle lemon creaminess. The beef was reviewed as delicious and both of us cleared our plates for this course too.
The desserts have been designed to be indulgent but portions for every course are very well proportioned. We were elegantly satisfied but not overwhelmed with quantities on our plates. More hard choices to make for the final course but finally I went for cranberry parfait served with cinnamon sablé, dried apricot and wine gums and The Old Bakery Chocolate for my companion which included Fruit & Nut, dark chocolate mousse, hazelnut dacquoise, fruit and lime. Silky smooth parfait and rich, indulgent chocolate, which I couldn’t help sampling myself, finished a thoroughly enjoyable lunch.
Barry, with service over, came to talk to me about this exciting new phase of his career. “It is wonderful to have this opportunity to make my own distinct stamp on the fine dining choices in Lincoln. The Chef’s Table will be a first for Lincoln, I believe, and provide a unique experience for customers. Our Valentine’s menu will be available from 10th to 12th February and our seven-course tasting menu is also available to pre-book with 48 hours’ notice. I am looking for more ways to work collaboratively with local suppliers and producers as we evolve the menus each season. ‘Taste’ cards will give regular diners offers and loyalty incentives.”
Barry’s kitchen cohort includes another chef and kitchen porter but there will be the opportunity for students to formally apply for work experience, cooking or front of house, as part of the final year of their course. Throughout our meal, contemporary songs arranged in a relaxed jazz style had been our background accompaniment and that vibe is perfectly matched with the ambiance that Chris and his team are delivering for diners. This is a fresh and exciting new era for The Old Bakery.