The Dysart has a very attractive dining room, with a stone floor, large fireplace and large, generously spaced tables. I have written in previous reviews about the track record of its chef Kenneth Culhane and also about the excellent and unusually good value wine list.
The meal today began with cheese gougeres. I have barely met a gougere that I disliked, though I have seen more delicate choux pastry than these, and I prefer them just out of the oven to when they have gone cold. Still, the cheese flavour was still nice (13/20). This was followed by a trio of crisp nibbles. Bacon cracker with Vietnamese bacon was pleasant, as was a shiitake mushroom cracker with molasses.
The best of the three was pulled pork rib meat with quite sticky aged soy and ginger based dip (14/20 average but the pork was better). As well as the soda bread that the kitchen has always served here, there was a very nice walnut bread (15/20).
Sashimi of halibut came with a little grated wasabi, which came from the wasabi farm in Dorset that is the only UK supplier of this root, which is tricky to grow. The halibut itself had very good flavour (15/20). Charred mackerel came with kombu-braised daikon, ginger and champagne sauce. This is a signature dish of the restaurant and is gorgeous, the ginger beautifully lifting the flavour of the precisely cooked mackerel (17/20).
Less successful was Jerusalem artichoke soup with candied lemon, which too me was overly sweet (13/20). Things got back on track with wild stone bass with spinach and sauce Jacqueline, the version here made with chicken stock, cream and carrots. The fish had lovely flavour and was carefully cooked, the rich sauce working nicely and the spinach a good foil for the sauce (16/20).
The final savoury course was sika deer with celeriac croustillant and Cumberland jus, which involves cranberries, red wine, port, ginger and orange. Sika deer has a delicate flavour, less strong than larger types of deer, and the sauce worked well with it here, the celeriac adding an earthy flavour (15/20).
An impressive selection of cheeses included the Corsican sheep milk cheese grand d’Amour, cashel Blue, Old Winchester and Savoie bleu. This was all in very good condition. Exotic fruit pre-dessert involved coconut and yuzu sorbet with an assortment of tropical fruit plus a hint of Indian spices. This was certainly refreshing and enjoyable (14/20). Valrhona chocolate dessert was topped with matcha (green tea powder), and came with plum sake and a nicely made chestnut ice cream (14/20). Coffee was from Drury and was excellent.
Service was excellent, led by the owner Barny Taylor. The bill came to £132 a head with some very good wine. If you ordered three courses and shared a modest bottle of wine then a more typical cost per head would be around £70. As ever, the Dysart delivered a most enjoyable experience. The dining room is attractive, the staff are lovely, and the food is very capable indeed. It is a restaurant that deserves much more attention than it gets.Book