Tag: seasonal

Restaurant review: Radius 7

Very local food with a sea view

Radius 7, New Road, Stoke Fleming, Dartmouth, Devon TQ6 0NR (01803 770007). Three-course meal for two, including drinks and tips: £80

★★★★☆

The word ‘local’ has suffered the same fate as ‘organic’ in that it has been abused by marketing types as a stamp of authenticity. It conjures up scenes of food on wooden boards, served in buildings with wholesome scrubbed red brick walls.

But local is much more than a middle class buzzword. Buying locally is good for the economy and means fewer food miles. It can also allow restaurants to build a better relationship with suppliers so that less waste is created. And a transparent supply chain suggests people are fairly treated and paid at every stage of production.

Radius 7 does local very well.

Sat on a hill that suddenly plunges into the English Channel, the restaurant started out in 2015 with the idea that ALL of its food would come from within a 7-mile radius. Two years on, the proportion is 85% local (they said butchers’ prices were becoming too high) but it is still an impressive achievement.

For starters I had Salt and Pepper Onion Petals (£2.95) which arrived deep fried and with garlic mayo. The onion had been part caramelised before being battered which made for mouthfuls of sweet sticky jam and crunchy fried coating.

Salt and Pepper Onion Petals with garlic mayonnaise

My five and a half fellow diners happily saw off heavily cheddared soufflés, scallops with black pudding and peas, and summer minestrone soup.

Wild Mushroom and Mascarpone Arancini (£12.95) with pea puree and beer battered asparagus came next. It was at this point I realised everything I had ordered was deep fried. With my battered starter and the veggie mains menu mostly filled with fried goods (beignets and croquettes too) there could be a better balance. It may have been created for vegetarians who are afraid of vegetables but I am not.

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Wild Mushroom and Mascarpone Arancini, with beer battered asparagus

The arancini, which are fried risotto balls, were crisp and well-seasoned, with fat chunks of meaty mushroom inside. The asparagus was juicy and sweet, although the batter was probably unnecessary and did not taste much of beer. However, I was abruptly disappointed when I discovered I had eaten them all. The creamy pea puree was a good foil to the beige but was too salty.

Elsewhere on the table, silenced mouths lapped up crab claws, langoustines and mussels draped in wild samphire and garlic butter. There was a platter of mackerel pâté, prawns, smoked salmon and crab, and steaks with onion rings and veg, and chips to mop up peppercorn sauce. A slow braised ox cheek glazed in Doombar ale and black treacle was eaten in a religious daze as deep as the dark meat lacquer.

crab claws, langoustines and mussels
Fisherman’s Catch – crab claws, langoustines and mussels 

Defeated, only one of the group ordered dessert. Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter Cheesecake (£5.95) with salted caramel came on a wooden board supplied by the local tree surgeon. A thick, rich, creamy, generous chocolatey jar affirmed that Radius 7 knows what it is doing.

Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cheesecake with salted caramel, berries and brownies 

The whole meal happened effortlessly, with no delays except when waiting for the bill during an influx of diners. The building is a wonderfully light space that benefits from a high ceiling and two long walls of windows, with the sea visible over the rooftops. On this Friday night it had a pleasant hum helped along with relaxed, assured staff.

Radius 7 could make even more of its local mantra, which is not advertised in the restaurant or online. Arguably the best it has to offer is the seafood, which comes from nearby Brixham, one of the biggest fishing ports in the UK. The restaurant also grows its own microherbs in a polytunnel out back and is looking into stocking Dart Valley wine alongside its Salcombe and Exmoor Wicked Wolf gins.

From an environmental perspective, local food does not always translate to a smaller carbon footprint because most emissions happen in the field rather than during transport. But it still helps, especially if the food is in season and grown easily in Britain.

Moreover it points to a thoughtful and sustainable way of restauranting that I am happy to buy into. Even if the deep fat frier had a bit of a heavy night.

Asparagus and golden mayo

Not much beats a plate of asparagus slathered in hollandaise. But if you fancy a more eco-friendly swap, mayo is the answer. That’s because the carbon footprint of butter is four times higher than olive oil and twice that of rapeseed oil.

This homemade mustardy mayo is easy to make, as long as you’re willing to give your whisking arm a workout! Have it with boiled eggs and toast for a simple but excellent dinner.

Why is this eco?

If you are going to make hollandaise or cook anything with butter, you’ll be doing much better by the environment by using olive or rapeseed oil instead.

About 7.3kg of CO2/equivalent is produced per kg of butter while olive oil produces 2.3kg (more if it comes in a smaller bottle). The study is calculated with butter from American dairies but this journalist uses Carbon Trust numbers to estimate that UK butter is actually higher at 9.4kg CO2/eq.

CO2/eq is a way of measuring all greenhouse gases under one common unit. For example, methane produced by cows can be measured in CO2/eq. These carbon footprints were calculated by adding up the greenhouse gases produced in all stages, from farm to packaging and transporting.

Speared
Double dipping is encouraged

RECIPE

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 big tsp Dijon mustard
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 75ml British rapeseed oil, or olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 12 spears)
  • Chilli powder, paprika or black pepper to taste

Method

Whisk the egg yolk for a whole minute with the vinegar, mustard and salt.

Drizzle in just a teaspoon of oil and whisk for another whole minute. Add another teaspoon and whisk for one more minute.

Now pour in a thin steady stream of the remaining oil, whisking constantly with your other (aching) arm.

Steam the asparagus for 5 minutes or up to 8 if it’s thick. I use a steamer or a sieve with a lid on, placed over a pan of boiling water.

To serve, spoon some mayo over the asparagus and sprinkle over chilli powder, or dip spears in a ramekin of the stuff.

Use up any leftover mayo in sandwiches or in a potato salad. Store it in the fridge for up to a week with clingfilm pressed against the top of the mayo to stop a skin forming.