Coleman’s Restaurant, Brigg
You may have already read in this month’s issue that Coleman’s Restaurant in Brigg was announced as the winner of the Lincolnshire Life Cuisine Awards, House of Townend Best Restaurant for 2010/11.
I had read the comments from our judge when he visited the restaurant anonymously in January and was keen to see why he had been so complimentary and enthusiastic about the food he had eaten.
We visited on a cold, damp evening in February but the restaurant looked warm and inviting as we circled the block looking for somewhere to park. The restaurant has large, street facing windows which, with the addition of Venetian blinds, allows you to see just enough to entice you in, while, when you are inside, not make you feel as if you are a in a goldfish bowl.
The swing sign outside describes Coleman’s as a British Eatery but don’t get carried away with notions of horse brasses, beams and velvet covered banquettes, this is an open, contemporary space, with seating, dining, bar area and open-to-view kitchen all within a single, L-shaped room. The décor is bold but it is warm and welcoming and the acoustics are comfortable. There is a buzz of conversation, no music playing and the tables have enough room around them that chairs don’t clash and you can enjoy as much elbow room as you like.
Above the bar and along the wall were a series of blackboards which featured daily specials for starters and main courses which started to illustrate why this is described as a British Eatery. There were salmon and crayfish fishcakes, mussels, hare and pigeon to name just a few but the boards are changed daily depending on seasonality and availability and reinforced the principle of everything being fresh and cooked to order.
We were met by Heidi Coleman who along with her husband and Chef, Andy, are the owners of the restaurant, and opted to be shown straight to our table. We sipped gin and tonics as we looked through the dinner menu and I wandered over to have a second look at the blackboards. It takes a certain confidence to have an open kitchen and diners exchanged greetings with Andy as he and his two chefs worked quickly and efficiently behind the pass.
My companion started with warm goat’s cheese salad with pickled baby beetroot and balsamic dressing while I opted for poached salmon fishcake with chilli dressing. My fishcake was packed with moist soft salmon while the dressing gave it a kick of heat on the tongue. The pickled baby beetroot worked very well with the cheese, cutting through the tangy goat flavour.
For main course I chose roasted crown of pigeon on celeriac purée while my companion chose breast of free range chicken stuffed with thyme herb mousse served with balsamic cherry tomatoes. There was a choice of three types of potato to accompany our meals and a large dish of fresh vegetables, including a delicious parsnip puree, red cabbage, carrots and butter braised leeks.
I have eaten pigeon throughout my life and this meat was beautifully tender and moist and very tasty. There is a good choice of game on the menu but with a selection of seven main courses on the dinner menu and a further five blackboard choices on the night we visited it would be hard to imagine that there would not be something to suit every taste. Fish choices are equally represented and I was really torn between one of these and game. Andy personally selects what looks good on the day from Doncaster Fish Market and once all the covers for that dish have been sold the blackboard comes down.
We didn’t have any wine with our meal because we both were driving but there is a good choice of over thirty wines, plus a points system taste guide to steer your choice. Prices range from £15.95 to £48 per bottle.
I was feeling nicely full at this stage but had left enough room for dessert. Recognisable English favourites are there such as Oaty Bramley apple crumble with fresh custard sauce and baked lemon tart with crisp burnt sugar crust but we opted for warm Bakewell tart with bramble berries and fresh custard sauce for my companion and the show stopping three ways with dark chocolate for me. The three desserts were chocolate and grand marnier mousse, rich truffle slice and handmade chocolate chip ice cream served with warm bramble fruit. An absolutely gorgeous way to end the meal.
We enjoyed a cup of coffee while chatting to Andy and Heidi and the passion that they put into their food and service shone through. On the reverse side of their menu is a list of all their local suppliers with whom Andy works closely to secure the very best local seasonal and fresh produce.
Next to the main dining area they have a private dining room that can seat thirty and is proving equally popular for business meetings as well as special occasions.
Always looking for ways to innovate, Andy’s next ambition is to deliver a Real Sunday Lunch which is available from 27th February. All of the ingredients will be fresh with a minimum of two roast joints, one of which will always be beef and a choice of six or seven other main courses and a choice of five or six desserts. Prices will be £15.95 for two courses or £19.95 for three.
Andy told me that sometimes people seem confused by the description of Coleman’s as a British Eatery but to me Andy and Heidi are celebrating the best in fresh, local, seasonal ingredients and serving them with great flair and style. Enough of an explanation for anyone really and their customers must agree because they voted in their hundreds for Coleman’s and I fully understood why they got our judges vote.