Plau has recently reopened under the new management of Mark O’Rourke and his team – responsible for some of Preston’s top eateries such as 263 and Fino Tapas – and with a new menu and Head Chef.Advertisement
One of Plau’s goals is to become renowned for an epic Sunday Roast, so I took my 77-year-old mother Yvonne to put their money where her mouth was, as she’s been cooking them since cows were invented.
Once inside the beautiful, wood panelled upstairs dining room we were quickly seated and given a jug of water and our menus, which featured three options for starters, four for mains and three for desserts, as well as Nocerella olives and polenta and parmesan beignet for those wanting nibbles.
To start I chose duck liver parfait with cep toast, heirloom carrot salad. The delicate parfait was served in a small kilner jar alongside a vibrantly coloured salad that carried an unexpected, almost umami-like flavour that we both utterly failed to identify.
Yvonne went for Fowey mussels. They were perfectly cooked and, with the aid of chilli and ginger, held their own against a tomato base which could have been overbearing if it hadn’t been so carefully balanced.
For the mains, there was an interesting option for vegetarians in the celeriac and wild mushroom vol-au-vent, but as mushrooms are the stuff of nightmares I chose the black Angus beef and Yvonne went for the Creedy Carver duck.
We’d never heard of Creedy Carver ducks before, but despite sounding like they’d feature in the film Gangs Of New York, they are free range birds from an award winning farm in Devon, seared on the outside and served pink. It was the duckiest tasting duck we’ve had in a long while.
The beef comes medium rare as standard, so anyone who likes theirs without any pinkness should ensure that they make the kitchen aware of their preference. Like the duck, it had the hearty flavour that’s only noticeable in meat from animals that have been well cared for and fed properly.
All the mains came with perfectly cooked, seasonal vegetables, the cabbage flavoured with star anise and the carrots cooked in orange being our two favourites. There were also crispy roast potatoes with fluffy insides, a light but tasty gravy, and two gorgeously massive Yorkshire puddings shaped like sexy, finless basking sharks that had melted a bit but are still hopefully trawling around for food, bless them. Not a good look for sharks, but bob-on for Yorkshires.
For dessert Yvonne ordered a mandarin souffle which was light, slightly tart and smelt like Christmas. One of the fancy Christmases that have a real Christmas tree, of course, not the ones in which the dog is off its head on Pringles and Turkish Delight and everyone’s crying. It also came with a scoop of coconut ice cream, which wasn’t an obvious pairing but was a happy one.
I had a boulder of a tiramisu profiterole that looked like it was gearing up to fight me, and it came close to winning as the chocolate sauce was almost too rich to eat but too good to leave. It didn’t win though, I did.
On our way out we saw Plau’s new chef, Jake White, and asked him what the mystery taste in the salad dressing was. He said it was essense of some kind of mushroom. As the boingy horrors that are all fungi are my bitter enemies, I was too shocked to take in what kind of mushroom it was or how the flavour was extricated from it, but I hope it hurt. That said, it was such an excellent dressing that I will call an uneasy truce on Jake White and his mushroom friends for now.
Since its opening, Plau has been known for sourcing the best produce and serving it up in exciting ways, as well as being a beautifully renovated piece of Preston’s history and an extraordinary labour of love and determination from founders Rebecca and Jeremy Rowlands and Nicola Heritage.
Plau’s Sunday roast is a perfect example of how that dedication will continue under the new chef and management team, with the flair and know-how that have made such resounding successes of their other Preston eateries.
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