“Stag Night” @ The Bank Tavern: Review

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If you’ve not yet visited the Bank Tavern, tucked away on John Street in the city centre, you’re in for a surprise. The unassuming-looking premises has plenty to offer thanks to landlord Sam and his team, including head chef Luke Spencer-Harrop, who is a strong believer in nose-to-tail eating. As well as offering a mighty fine Sunday lunch, the Bank Tavern has a solid weekly menu…as well as the offer of a series of “Adventurous Eats” nights: evenings where the pub is closed to all but those who have bought a ticket that allows them to sample a menu that is guaranteed to be inventive and diverse.

The first such night was their “Swine Dining” event back in August 2014, followed by a “Surf ‘n’ Turf” evening in December. Their “Stag Night” was the third in the ongoing series and, as you’d expect from the name, showcased venison prepared and cooked in a whole range of different ways.

We were greeted with a glass of Prosecco, and sat down at communal tables to peruse the menu (and to decide whether to go for the optional wine flight) before our starter arrived…

 

Bank Tavern - Stag Night - Menu

 

There’s no denying that the venison tartare that we enjoyed as our starter really didn’t photograph well…but appearances can be deceptive. The tartare had a great texture: the meat coarsely chopped, the capers and chopped gherkins generous in their quantities. Add in the finely chopped parsley and the crispy potato sticks with which the dish was topped, and our “steak and chips”, as it was introduced, was a fantastic start to the evening.

 

Bank Tavern - Stag Night - Tartare

 

We weren’t so convinced, though, by the consommé with which we were presented between courses. The citrusy red sorrel was a fantastic addition, but the consommé itself was overpowered by the flavour of black truffle oil, which really hit the back of the throat – and not in a good way…

 

Bank Tavern - Stag Night - Consomme

 

The presentation of the gnocchi, fillet tail and sage butter course was outstanding. Seriously impressive. Adorned with flowers (borage, and what I believe were marigolds…although my floral knowledge isn’t that great), three chunky gnocchi were flanked by the same number of meaty venison fillet tail pieces, parsley and fresh shoots. The tail was served medium, and while it was tasty, we were expecting more tenderness. The gnocchi were well-made with a great texture…but we didn’t think they needed their dusting of nutmeg. Definitely a well-executed course, although some of the flavours were a little odd.

 

Bank Tavern - Stag Night - Fillet Tail

 

The whole of our table LOVED the contents of the little jars that were brought to our table after the gnocchi course – and we regretted not making a cheeky request for more of the venison pastrami to take home with us to savour later. Strong and salty in its flavour, the pastrami was paired with fermented kale, which retained its wonderful bitterness but had an almost sauerkraut-like flavour to it. The mustard mayo on top was a bit much, though – its flavour somewhat overpowering the pastrami, which was the true star of the dish.

 

Bank Tavern - Stag Night - Venison Pastrami

 

Sadly, the loin, leek and shallot dish was probably my least favourite of the evening. The meat itself was cooked beautifully pink, but the trendy burnt leek crust just tasted…well…burnt. The roasted shallot was lovely and sweet, but the purée was too bitter for my palate, unfortunately.

 

Bank Tavern - Stag Night - Loin

 

The pressed hearts, fatty liver and toast more than made up for the loin dish. The slow-cooked heart itself was incredibly rich and meaty – a little dry after being pressed, but that was where the addition of the fatty liver came in, adding not only flavour, but also a rich and butter moisture that worked beautifully with both the heart and the thick wedge of toasted brioche. I could happily have eaten another portion of this…

 

Bank Tavern - Stag Night - Heart and Liver

 

Dessert was a choice between madeleines with lemon cream or was was billed on the menu as “Snickers” ice cream. While one diner at our table (who shall not be named…) managed to order both for himself, the rest of us were sold on the promise of chocolate, peanuts and the intriguing speech marks of the latter. Turns out the speech marks stood for deconstruction, as we were presented with a thick smear of nutty, chocolatey spread topped with a scoop of ice cream, peanuts, a thick and creamy slab of nougat, a generous drizzle of ever-so-slightly-undersalted salted caramel, and a shard of salted dark chocolate. Superb.

 

Bank Tavern - Stag Night - Snickers Dessert

 

£40 (plus £18 for the optional wine flight) mean that the Bank Tavern’s “Adventurous Eats” nights aren’t necessarily the most affordable occasion, but if you can stump up the cash, they’re a good opportunity to enjoy an inventive menu in a relaxed and informal setting.

 

Please note: this meal was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.

 

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