Destiny had decided that Sid would finally eat at Puschka, unfortunately Destiny’s palate isn’t what it once was.
I’d never been to Puschka, a proud little bistro sitting on Rodney street, I had heard quite a lot about it through word of mouth and written reviews. It had been on my list of restaurants to try for a long time, indeed I’d had four previous aborted attempts at a meal there. Due to sickness, unexpected events or civil unrest I’d never managed to follow through on a booking, the gods were clearly not ready for me to eat there. On a recent Tuesday night I felt good things were ahead, fate had allowed me to not only book a table but also arrive at the restaurant. Surely the gods where smiling on me, an excellent meal was bound to follow.
My fellow culinary adventurer and I took our seats before half past six and began eagerly perusing the early evening menu. Three very tempting sounding courses and a glass of wine for £19.90, this I hoped, would be tasty food and tasty prices to match. Our starters both arrived promptly, the smoked ham rillette was sweet, salty and tender meat with great accompanying bread and piccalilli. The salmon and mackerel pate was subtle and perfectly seasoned with a delicate sharpness to balance from the gherkins. This classic food done well was a great start to the meal but alas, only signalled the decent into dishes with far less technical accuracy.
Mains were two sides of a fishy coin, one a very well cooked salmon fillet with lovely potatoes and accompanying sauce, the other was a dry dusty fish salad. My haddock came with a pine nut crust, that mainly consisted of bread crumbs, it promptly disintegrated, which had a similar effect to covering the dish with some form of dry powder. This dish was difficult to eat and lacking in flavour, not helped by the slightly over cooked fish. Pudding also showed cooking where the technical achievement didn’t quite match the desired outcome. A hot chocolate fondant was very under-cooked, with almost no solid element to it, leaving a sloppy goo under a thin crust. The treacle toffee tart filling was too chewy and lacked any real flavour and sat in a pastry case that was thick and heavy. Perhaps the gods weren’t smiling on use after all.
Puschka is now in its tenth year, it is well-regarded and has secured a very good reputation, but this isn’t what I experienced. Not only do I think, but also hope, that I was there on a bad night. Judging a decade old restaurant on a single visit can leave you riddled with inaccuracies, however my food did have faults, some with conception and others with technique. I really wanted my meal to be good, but ultimately I left disappointed, it’s a great shame for some of the cooking showed real skill and understanding, if only all the dishes could have had the same attention to detail.
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