Is it that time already? The kitchen at Arbor, the multi-award winning, 2 AA-rosette restaurant at Bournemouth’s Green House Hotel, is buzzing as we prepare to launch our Spring-Summer menu.
For Chef Andy Hilton and his team it has been the culmination of weeks of creating, tasting and refining to produce the innovative dishes that will make the seasonal cut, putting Arbor’s unique spin on flavours, textures and colours.
So without further ado, let us introduce you to some of the fabulous seasonal ingredients on our Spring-Summer menu. We feel they illustrate what Arbor is about – supporting local, quality artisan suppliers, cooking and sourcing sustainably, and serving the best, freshest fish and meat straight from farm and trawler to plate.
We’re just so darn proud of Dorset’s first ever gin distillery – from the back streets of Bournemouth Conker has produced this world-class, intricate gin made up of ten botanicals. Whilst still juniper-based, there is something else there too – the unmistakeably Dorset notes of elderberries, samphire and handpicked New Forest gorse flowers. Its beautifully smooth, refreshing flavour has found its way into our kitchens, where Chef has used it to cure fish in his own version of a classic “gravad lax”. Which bring us to…
“Gravad lax” literally means “buried salmon” because the ancient Scandis did exactly that, after salting it to preserve it for the winter. But with salmon stocks low, we prefer to use plentiful South Coast Mackerel as a delicious and sustainable alternative. Mackerel just feels so wonderfully British – it summons up childhood holidays, dangling bare feet and juicy tidbits on a line over Bournemouth pier. And like salmon it’s a sweet, oily fish, so it lends itself equally well to curing. Combined with earthy beets and some horseradish heat, this is the sort of sustainable, local twist on classic flavour combinations that sums up what Arbor is all about.
Rosary Goats Cheese
Hand crafted in Salisbury, Wiltshire, with local goats milk, Rosary is creamy and fresh with a natural acidity and just enough salt to enhance its unique flavour, and it has an amazingly light, almost mousse-like texture that we love. It’s also suitable for vegetarians. For our starter, we crumb and deep fry it until just oozing, and serve it with an intense, slow-cooked homemade tomato chutney and tangy home-picked onions. Again, classically matched flavours, but done the Arbor way.
We love our seasonal veg at Arbor, and just occasionally we like to throw something in that people may not easily find on the shelves of Asda – or even Waitrose. Parsley root is one such. Long used as a winter vegetable in Germany, Holland and Poland, it’s less well known here. So here’s the low down: it’s a member of the carrot family (which also includes celery, fennel, anise and dill). It’s light beige, carrot-shaped but more slender. The flavour is harder to pin down – somewhere between celeriac and parsnip but sweeter and herbier, with a little parsley leaf in there too. The best thing may be to come and taste it for yourself.
Mendip Hills spring lamb
We source as much of our lamb as possible from the Somerset meadows, moving further afield during the course of the year, but always buying the best we can possibly get. The new-season lamb is pale in colour and exceptionally tender, with a sweet and subtle flavour. In our new menu we’ve taken a tender loin cut, added a layer of crushed, minted peas and encased the whole in homemade pastry for a hearty “Lamb wellington” perfect for big appetites or to share. Spring on a plate.
The quality of scallops from our Southern coastal waters is so good – mild and sweet with a firm yet fine texture – they often find a spot on our Spring menu, as long as they are sustainably harvested. They’re perfect matched with robust flavours like this world-class black pudding from the Scottish Isle of Lewis – it has global protected status so we felt it was worth the extra food miles. We like to think of it as doing our bit to bridge the north-south divide – sort of, “southern belle meets northern powerhouse”.