Stacey Black takes a trip up to The Whitmore Tap for an evening of live jazz and excellent food
Since its recent transformation from The Penny Farthing, The Whitmore Tap has set up its stall as a gastro pub serving proper food and beers. From Butcombe Brewing Co, this new taproom on Whiteladies Road offers cask, keg and bottled beers and ciders, as well as dishes that promise “bold flavours” and “exciting takes on pub classics”.
I was invited along to their Jazz Night which was set to take place in their newly-refurbished first floor restaurant upstairs. I’d only ever visited the ground floor previously, so I was intrigued to check out the new space.
Heading into the large room, we passed the open-plan kitchen which was already a hive of activity. The dining room itself is a spectacular place with classic wooden tables and chairs, a long leather banquette which lines the back wall and is softly lit by the large glass chandeliers above.
“The sweet-and-sour tartness of the vegetables was nicely complemented by the syrupy candied pecans and fresh rocket leaves”
The restaurant is smart and comfortable without feeling stuffy. To the left of our table, a live band was playing a selection of jazz standards, as well as more modern fare. This added to the chilled atmosphere, and my friend and I enjoyed a glass of prosecco while they played.
The taproom downstairs has a menu of its own, and here you can find such treats as Belgian-style frites with a range of toppings, a selection of sandwiches, burgers, and fish and chips. But we were here to try out the first floor menu which is an elegant mix of inspired starters, heady mains and indulgent puddings. With choices such as game terrine with plum chutney, smoked beetroot, burrata and salsa verde, or Chalk Stream Farm trout pastrami, you’d be hard-pressed to find a dish that didn’t tickle your fancy.
I went for the winter vegetable caponata served with rocket and candied pecans, while my friend ordered the beef doughnuts served with honey and soy. I quite often make caponata for myself, but it’s never tasted this good. The sweet-and-sour tartness of the vegetables was nicely complemented by the syrupy candied pecans and fresh rocket leaves. Although caponata can sometimes be a bit rich and overpowering, this dish was so light.
Intrigued by the beef doughnuts, my friend said these were utterly delicious. Three plump and tender orbs of beef were beautifully dressed and powdered to perfection to resemble doughnuts of the sweet kind, and my friend assured me that these were extremely moreish.
Onto mains, and the choices here were no less exciting. Venison haunch with braised venison croquette and turnip, and smoked beef brisket with olive oil mash and red wine sauce are among the heartier fare, and dishes are all cooked in the restaurant’s Robata charcoal grill.
My friend opted for the Brixham Market fish of the day, while I went for the Delića squash. The fish was huge, and sat atop a steaming bowl of velouté, which really stood up to its name. Silky and velvety, the savoury sauce worked perfectly with the delicate fish, which came apart easily when my friend dove in with her fork.
My squash was similarly delectable, and arrived as a deconstructed sculpture on my plate. Great shards of tender squash were nicely blistered and were smothered in a delicious sweet and smoky romesco sauce, then topped with toasted seeds.
We didn’t have room for dessert, on this occasion, but it was hard to turn down options such as pain au raisin bread and butter pudding, smoked chocolate mousse, and oat milk and vanilla panna cotta with boozy plums.
I was really excited to check out the new-look restaurant, and was genuinely impressed by the elegant and robust menu on offer. If you’re looking for a gorgeous dining experience in a stunning setting, then make sure you stop by The Whitmore Tap.