Sessions Restaurant, Lincoln College
Sessions Restaurant is located in a setting rich in history but it is the nurturing ground for local chefs and maître d’s of the future.
The Grade II listed building on the campus of Lincoln College was formerly the Sessions House for Lincoln and while many original features, including the cell doors, have been preserved, the spaces have been opened up and tastefully renovated to provide a welcoming, oblong shaped restaurant with an adjoining bar and private dining area. On average, the room can accommodate 30 to 35 covers and half the tables were already taken when we arrived.
The restaurant is the showcase for the Catering and Hospitality courses at Lincoln College. Students develop their skills on the paying public as baristas, bar staff, managers, waiters and chefs. Lincoln College were the hosts of the 2018 Young Chef of the Year Cook-Off as part of Lincolnshire Life’s Taste of Excellence Awards. Three of the county’s most ambitious and brave young chefs entered the cauldron of the competition in the College’s Professional Kitchen in October. You can find the result in our Awards Night supplement in this issue beginning on page 99.
One of the aims of the Awards is to encourage young people to enter the industry to conquer its challenges but also discover the passion and pride which we witnessed amongst this year’s winners.
During the day Sessions Restaurant offers a wide variety of refreshment and food options beginning with Stokes barista coffees from 9.30am to 2pm and weekday lunches from noon to 1.15pm. Choose from a three-course lunch starting from £6 per course or for those in a hurry, Quick Lunch served in the bar offers one dish such as curry and rice or moussaka and Fish & Chips Friday for £3.50.
We were visiting on a Wednesday evening when fine dining or themed menus are served between 6pm and 7.15pm. Booking is essential for these events. Devised by Simon Walker, one of the College’s professional chefs, the menu offered two choices for starters and desserts and three for main courses. We began with a cocktail each; Daiquiri for my friend and Caipirinha for me. Each was zesty and refreshing with lime and ice. Our server made a good job of explaining their origins and ingredients.
I chose smoked duck breast with compressed watermelon, feta snow and mint oil while my companion had crispy hen’s egg with pea veloute, broad beans and truffled crème fraîche. My duck breast was served with a nice touch of theatre: a smoke-filled glass dome was lifted from the plate giving an intense burst of the flavour to inhale before tasting. I loved the watermelon with the duck which was soft and not overly smoked. The veloute and soft-centred egg was equally praised and enjoyed. Our server had introduced us to the wine flight that evening chosen to complement each course. I kept my choice to a glass of Riesling which had been chosen to accompany my main dish of Tandoori monkfish served with curried rice arancini, mango puree and coconut shards. The monkfish was beautifully spiced and cooked. The arancini gave a satisfying and balanced contrast to the sweetness of the puree. My friend chose roast pork fillet served with shallot puree, potato and bacon terrine and a local cider jus. She loved every element.
As our plates were cleared, the smiling and friendly servers asked if we had enjoyed our food and had become more at ease with their duties. For dessert I had buttermilk panna cotta accompanied by blueberries, lemon oat crumble and white chocolate sorbet while my fellow diner had bitter chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream, banana sponge and peanut brittle. These dishes were very well presented and a fitting high note on which to end a thoroughly enjoyable meal. The price for three courses was an exceptionally reasonable £18 per person and £5 each for the cocktails.
Dining at Sessions Restaurant, you could be helping to nurture a future Taste of Excellence Chef of the Year. They will be serving a three-course Christmas Lunch Menu from 26th November to 19th December and a Christmas Festive Evening Menu on 6th December. On 24th January there will be a Burns Night celebration. Call the restaurant to book or for further information. Lincoln College offers a wide range of City and Guild Catering and Hospitality courses which you can find out more about at their next Open Days on 24th January, 1st May or 29th June.