Thursday, 12 September 2013

La Becasse, Ludlow, fine dining restaurant review

It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to speculate that winning a Michelin star is one of the main reasons many fine dining chefs get up in the morning.

The adulation that winning a coveted Macaron brings from peers, diners and critics provides motivation to push boundaries and strive for perfection. Also, the increased bookings that a star brings would be a bonus in the notoriously low margin fine dining sector – all those pre-desserts and petit fours don’t pay for themselves.

I can imagine, therefore, it’s an understatement to say that losing a Michelin star would be a bit of a bummer.

One of the most well known downgradings in recent years is La Becasse in Ludlow - Head Chef Will Holland managed the remarkable feat of winning a Michelin star at the age of 29 which he then held for three years.

Having visited the restaurant twice, the first time shortly after La Becasse won its star and the second time a couple of weeks ago, I can safely say that Will Holland is still banging out bloody fantastic food.

It’s rather sad therefore that Chef Holland is leaving La Becasse this weekend to move onto pastures new. Wherever he ends up next, they’re in for a treat. And, whoever takes over the reins at La Becasse has a tough act to follow...

Having bagged a last-minute lunch reservation, we arrived at La Becasse as soon as their doors opened. Once we were ushered upstairs to the quaintly wonky bar area, Mrs G rubbed in the unfortunate truth that I was designated driver by ordering a large G&T. I begrudgingly supped on a glass of tap water.

Fortunately, a trio of nibbles kept my spirits up whilst I chose from the bangingly good value set-lunch menu (3 courses for £30) – home made purple potato crisps, sweet popcorn with a tabasco kick and plump olives set the bar high from the start.

We relocated downstairs to the imposing wood-panelled dining room and the freebies kept on coming.

A cube of crisp, light, cheesy and buttery parmesan polenta was topped with a pungent black olive tapenade. Lush.

A pre-starter of sprightly gaspacho was served with little pieces of fragrant poached peach and under-flavoured peach jelly cubes.

Excellent warm soft tray-baked rolls were flavoured with cardamon, poppy seeds and black olive.

To start, I ordered a rich risotto packed with brown crab and smoked haddock. The dainty dish was topped with buttery stands of courgette spaghetti and fragrant fennel. Whilst the flavours were perfect, the rice was a touch too soft.

Mrs G’s starter of duck confit terrine was bang on - rich pate studded with pieces of confit duck was accompanied by crisp toast, micro-leaves, sweet pickled cucumbers and caramelised plum puree.

Whilst my main of slow-cooked pig’s cheek looked a bit sloppy, the darn-tootingly good flavours more than made up for it. Unctuous, tender, spiced meat combined with a crisp buttery potato rosti, sweet and sharp poached gooseberries and delicately soused cabbage.

The other main of supremely tender chicken thighs, chorizo flecked pearl barley risotto, avocado puree and micro-coriander leaves was equally exceptional.

Pre-dessert took the form of the ultimate Solero – creamy, fragrant passion fruit curd topped with refreshing passion fruit granita.

My dessert was one of the best dishes of the year so far -  light, slightly bitter chocolate mousse balls coated in amaretti crumbs were balanced perfectly by sharp lemon curd, fragrant candied lime peel, bitter cherries and salted caramel jelly. Wow wow wow.

Meanwhile, a trio of cheeses (including an amazingly complex 3 year cave aged gruyere) from the well stocked trolley were accompanied by excellent homemade chutneys.

Accompanying post-lunch coffee were a raggle taggle bunch of macarons. Whilst they looked a bit squiffy, they were crisp and chewy in perfect proportion and filled with delights including chocolate puree, lemon curd and spiced cream flecked with raisins.

At £30, the set lunch at La Becasse is one of the best value meals going; the quality of ingredients, level of technique and generosity of portions are all exceptional. Ludlow will miss the talents of Will Holland.

The details:
Address - La Becasse, 17 Corve Street, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 1DA


  1. Almost every single dish looks unbelievable. I was wondering if they gave you trouble for the snapping pictures while dining?

    I was looking for a breakfast post on your blog to share on my FB page but I can't seem to find except for the review from Greggs the bakery. :)

    1. @JC Gibbs - I've never had any trouble at all taking photos in a restaurant. I always have the flash and sound off so it's pretty discrete.

      I don't have many breakfast posts on the blog - I need to eat more fry ups!

      Other options would be Cote Bistro
      or Carluccio's

      Both chains unfortunately.