Just on the edge of Winchester city centre, not far from King Alfred’s statue, lies one of those places that I would describe as a little gem. Walking through the door of No.5 Bridge Street, you feel like you are entering somebody’s kitchen in a country house, with one of the first things I saw being a large kitchen table surrounded by chairs. Around the corner they have a tasteful and uncluttered bar area where you can have an aperitif prior to your meal.
No.5 Bridge Street
No.5 Bridge Street is one of a handful of venues that are part of the Ideal Collection. They are open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner; if you wish to stay over you can do so in one of their six boutique en-suite bedrooms. Working closely with Hampshire Fare producers, the chef has a menu that changes seasonally and is prepared in their open plan kitchen.
In the evening No.5 Bridge Street offers “Grazing at No.5”, where you choose from a selection of small plates that you can share with the rest of your table. This has to be one of my favourite ways of dining, so I was really looking forward to what Hampshire ingredients were on the menu.
There was a large selection of plates to choose from and they covered the following different types of food: Cured, Botanist, Grazier, Seafarer, Grains & Pulses and Sweet. There is a selection of steaks from their Butcher’s Cuts section of the menu too.
It was a Saturday evening and it was a busy restaurant made up of couples, groups of family and friends, plus a party of girls, whilst I was dining with my girlfriend. We were shown to our seats and provided with a menu, bread from local Hoxton Bake House and the wine list. We were offered water and advised that each plate would come out when it was ready.
Grazing at No.5
Looking through the menu, it all sounded so appealing, what dishes should we have? After some quite intense “umming and ahhing”, we decided upon the following plates:
- Homemade Bresaola, Pickled Walnuts and Rocket
- Chalk Stream Hot Smoked Trout, Wasabi, Mascarpone and Red Wine Shallots
- Stuffed Courgette Flower, Goats Cheese, Truffled Honey and Hazelnuts
- Lymington Crab Arancini, Fennel & Apple Salad and Bisque
- Blackmoor Venison, Turnips, Coffee & Port
- Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Brown Shrimp, Poached Egg, Hollandaise and Hazelnuts
- Devilled Duck Hearts, Pancetta Waffle with Alresford Watercress.
The Crab Arancini were crisp with the most amazing flavour of crab, I would imagine coming from a good amount of brown meat as is was so intense. The Devilled Duck Hearts, if you have not eaten duck heart before, are best described as extremely well cooked lamb’s kidney (assuming you have tried kidneys.. If not, they taste similar to duck hearts)! They were pink and with a very subtle spicing to the sauce. The Blackmoor Venison was so tender it easily melted in the mouth, accompanied by a rich coffee and porter sauce which was so… dare I use the word… unctuous. Then there was the Purple Sprouting Broccoli (probably my favourite vegetable) with Poached Egg and Brown Shrimp. Imagine an oozing egg yolk, coating the broccoli and the salty shrimp help season the dish.. what a delight.
Dishes that we did not order, but were very close to doing so included:
- Spiced Brassicas, Pickled Mustard Seeds and Dukkah
- Iberico Pork Cheeks, Soft Polenta and Salsa Verde
- Aromatic Cous Cous, Crispy Artichokes and Harissa Labneh
- Longhorn Beef Tartare, Crispy Cockels, Raw Mushroom and Sea Vegetable
- Sausage & Lentil Casserole with Grilled Radicchio
- Pigeon, Guinea Fowl & Black Pudding Terrine with a Rhubarb & Beetroot Compote and Brioche.
I’ll have you know that my mouth is watering and my belly has started rumbling whilst I write this.
Throughout the evening it was great to see the head chef constantly busy, tasting and checking flavours. I even saw him saying “No, that cannot go out. It will have to be redone.” Somebody obviously passionate about what he does and there are no compromises as to what goes out to the customer.
We left a bit of room to try a couple of their Sweet plates. Rhubarb & Custard and their Dark Chocolate Mousse, Banana, Peanut Butter & Milk. It was the first rhubarb that I have had this year and as I expected, the tartness of poached rhubarb and rhubarb sorbet was offset by a vanilla rich ice cream, meringue and shortbread biscuits.
The Dark Chocolate Mousse was a chocolate lovers dream. Rich, smooth with caramalised bananas and a Peanut Butter Ice Cream.
Staff were friendly, courteous and very knowledgeable about the food that was being served. We had a very enjoyable evening and the food was faultless. We will definitely be visiting again sometime in the future, as I want to see what their chef produces when the other seasons come around. One of my weaknesses is being tempted by a chef promoting seasonal and local Hampshire produce.
No.5 Bridge Street, 5 Bridge Street, Winchester SO23 0HN
We dined as guests of No.5 Bridge Street, but all editorial content is my own.