Over the years, I have offered a long line of excuses for not getting things done on time and it is with great sorrow (and embarrassment) that for the last week of the regional heats of the Great British Menu, I have to trot out one more. To put it basically, I have lost my treasured notebook, which keeps all the details, all the observations and all the pithy asides that I use to compile these reviews. Worse still, I seem to have to lost it in a pub. So for Northern Ireland, I am going to focus purely on the judging round. I only hope that the chefs, namely Chris McGowan, chef patron of Wine and Brine, Eddie Atwell, head chef at Ardtara County House and Mark Abbot, head chef at Daniel Clifford’s Midsummer House, can forgive me. I am sure they’ve been there. Monday’s nights are usually the nights for chefs to lose things.
And I am sure that somewhere, in the depths of Essex, someone is having a good old laugh at my spidery scrawl and comments about Michael O’Hare’s dyed blonde hair, who was this week’s mentor. If you are reading this Michael, please don’t take that last sentence to heart. I am merely jealous of your locks. For mine left me a long time ago.
The two chefs that made it through to the judging round were third time lucky Chris and rising star Mark. Grafter Eddie threw the kitchen sink at everything during the week, including a commendable mains called the ‘Bounty of Baronscourt’; a fine, forest-like display of venison, set upon a dock leaf pudding and carrot jam. But it wasn’t enough, as Mark in particular was on fire. He ended up notching the highest score of the competition ever in the regional heats.