If you’ve read my previous review of Porter and Rye, you’ll know that I LOVED pretty much everything about it. So when an email dropped into my inbox inviting me to an exclusive event, there was absolutely no way I was going to say no. And so, with great pleasure, Rosie and I headed along to the Kilgowrie Farm Event last Thursday evening.
Kilgowrie Farm is in Perthshire, and is land where Porter and Rye co-owner Scott Arnot’s granddad once farmed. Scott decided to contact the current land owners, who farm pure Aberdeen Angus cows, and asked if they would like to collaborate for a special, one-off event. The dinner was a one-off for one very simple reason – Kilgowrie doesn’t have enough cows to supply the restaurant on a regular basis. However, for one night only, Kilgowrie Farm beef was the star of the show – and what a show it was.
When we arrived at Porter and Rye, we were shown outside and upstairs into a room that I didn’t even know existed! Later on, I learnt that the room is usually used for training, but can be hired out or used for special events. Rosie and I took in the surrounds – think lots of bare wood, candles and lights – whilst enjoying our champagne and waiting for the other guests to arrive. Before dinner, we were told a little bit more about Kilgowrie Farm by both Scott and current land owner Sasha, and then it was down to business.
Our first course was a Smoked Brisket with Tomato Relish – small, compact rounds of lightly smoked beef with a dollop of sweet, smooth tomato purée on top. Across the table, Claire described the dish as “the best corned beef ever” and I think she hit the nail on the head. The flavour of the beef was very similar to that of corned beef, if a bit milder, but with a far courser texture. It would have been delicious served on a hunk of bread, however the gorgeous Soda Bread wasn’t served until after we had eaten the amuse-bouche. I do still have to give a massive shoutout to that bread, and the butter that came with it, as they were both superior to anything you’d buy from a supermarket.
The starter for the evening was a an Oxtail Terrine with Pickled Celery, Wild Mushroom Mousse, Dry Aged Sirloin and Horseradish Oil. I was a little nervous of this description, as I don’t like mushrooms and am not the biggest fan of celery, but I was pleasantly surprised. The terrine was chunky, but light, with a very subtle meaty flavour and the celery was lovely – very lightly pickled, it had retained its crunch but imparted a nice vinegary flavour that complimented the savouriness of the rest of the dish. The mushroom foam did taste of mushrooms, so I didn’t care for it too much on its own, but it went well with the rest of the dish. I’m always amazed by chefs who can channel such a strong flavour into something like a foam or a gel, so I was still impressed by the technical skills of making such a thing. I’m not sure where the dry aged sirloin came into the dish – there was an artistic smudge of something on the plate, but I didn’t get a huge amount of flavour from it. I didn’t really get any distinct horseradish flavour either, so perhaps the chef had gone a bit off-piste when actually making the dish. I wasn’t too fussed about the missing elements, and my only real criticism of the second course would be that is was all very brown. It sounds like a silly thing to say, but when a dish is all the one colour I find it slightly less appealing than something with some contrast in it.
I rather enjoyed the wine that accompanied the starter – a fruity, Spanish red. I wasn’t too sure about the matching wine for the main course at first, although I have to admit that it went fairly well with the food. The French Syrah had been chosen to accompany the 90 Day Aged Kilgowrie Ribeye, which was served with Fondant Potato, Vichy Carrots, Cabbage and Chimichurri.
The steaks were cooked medium-rare unless otherwise specified: given that I usually order my steaks medium-rare this sounded perfect to me. The thing about ageing a steak, especially for as long as 90 days, is that it loses its bloodiness. So, while the steak was beautifully cooked with a deep pink still visible in the middle, there was absolutely no blood in sight. And I’ll be honest – I missed the blood a little! That’s not to say it wasn’t a good steak though – the meat was very nice, with a pure, unadulterated flavour. The fondant potato was light and fluffy, while the carrots were perfectly cooked. The cabbage was a massive revelation – I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was the nicest cabbage I’ve ever had. Slightly sweet, just the right amount of crunch and a great accompaniment to the meaty steak and silky potato. I can’t honestly say this was a better main than the amazing fillet and outstanding truffle salt fires I had on my last visit, but it was pretty damn good all the same!
Generally, I can take or leave dessert wine but the Palazzina that we were given to go with our dessert was sweet, smooth and delicious. The dessert itself wasn’t too shabby either – Dark Chocolate and Orange Opera Cake with Marmalade Ice Cream. The layers of sponge and cream were incredibly light, the chocolate and orange flavours both extremely subtle. It was the ice cream, however, which really won it for me. Packing a real punch of orange marmalade, it was smooth as could be and really quite moreish. I could definitely have eaten more of the ice cream, although maybe sometime when I’ve had slightly less food!
Four courses and rather a lot of alcohol later, we finished the evening at Porter and Rye very happy but very full. I already recommended Porter and Rye to anyone who asked, and my opinion certainly hasn’t changed based on the Kilgowrie Farm Event. Of course, I feel very lucky to be in the position that I am invited to such events, but I would still wholeheartedly recommend Porter and Rye as a great venue for a celebration or special occasion – the quality really is worth the money.