Saturday, 12th October 2019 – Case, The White Peacock, Leicester
Trying to find somewhere for dinner in Leicester proved less challenging that I might have expected given that most food guides display a massive empty space in the midlands, with just the odd oasis of hospitality, though if I’d stuck to Michelin we’d have had to drive half an hour to find anywhere. I resorted, instead, to The Good Food Guide and found The White Peacock, around half a mile from the hotel. We decided not to go for one of their tasting menus (which need advance selection) on the grounds that we’d be having lunch as well that day. As it turned out this was a good choice for more than one reason.
On the way through the town during the day we’d noticed The Case, which billed itself as a Champagne bar and restaurant, so we figured we’d start there. The restaurant is on the top of the building, with the Champagne bar occupying the ground floor and a basement “snug”.
A quick study of the list proved that the prices were very reasonable (or I’ve just been out in London too much) so we thought the Champagne Mandois Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru, at £7.00 a glass seemed like a good choice. They’d run out so we went for the Cuvee Reserve Brut, which was £6.50 a glass. They did try and talk me into a bottle but I figured three glasses each would be too much, although at £33 a bottle it was a good deal.
We assumed it was called Case because it sells wine, but a quick question to one of the staff and we were told it had been a suitcase manufacturer’s in a previous existence. It also looked like the restaurant would have been a good option if we hadn’t already booked elsewhere.
It was a short walk from the Case to the White Peacock, running the gauntlet of a Saturday night in a UK town drunken idiot collection. We debated the possibility of getting a taxi back to the hotel afterwards, but decided we’re mean enough to deal with any harrassment. Settled in at the restaurant, we were shepherded to the bar, and soon had drinks in front of us.
Some time later we were still sitting in the bar, and had been offered a free drink each because the restaurant was having a problem; one of the chefs had been sent home ill, and thus they were running very slow. They hoped we wouldn’t mind; we didn’t mind. We both hate being rushed, so we were quite prepared to take as much time as they needed. The menu looked good, and we soon had our order sorted. At the table, bread, oil and butter arrived promptly and was pretty good. It kept us happy while the kitchen tried to get back on track.
The starters were a long time arriving, but proved more than worth waiting for. We both went for the vegetarian options in that section of the menu, Lynne getting a colourful goat cheese log, with beetroot texture and pear, golden raisins, and fig chutney that was attractive to look at and very tasty. It looked more like a dessert than a starter, but it packed a sweet and savoury punch.
The mushroom tortellini, pickled mushrooms with confit egg yolk, truffle shavings and a smoky mushroom broth was also very good. It was a shame the server didn’t quite get all the broth properly in the bowl, but that niggle aside, the pasta was well made and silky, the egg was lovely once it was threaded through the broth and they’d been generous with the truffle shavings. What’s not to like?
Things were going well is somewhat slowly, and the staff were charm personified, so we really didn’t mind at all. We kept trying to reassure them that as long as they were happy to still be there, we were in no hurry at all. The mains kept the quality level high, being very tasty and made with obviously good quality ingredients. I ordered the seasonal game (which turned out to be venison on the day), and which was served with blackberries, coffee-infused beetroot and salsify, fresh winter truffles, and an orange and juniper game jus, though I would argue the latter was far heavier on the juniper than the orange, being quite bitter.
I enjoyed it but preferred the fish, which was curried monk fish, on an aubergine puree, with some tiny, fabulously fragrant and crunchy cauliflower bhajis, pickled grapes and a glorious crab and basil sauce. a bowlful of the bhajis would be a very fine thing for a pre-dinner snack is all I can say.
We finished out bottle of wine about the same time as we finished the food. from a fairly smart list we’d selected a Primitivo San Marzano Il Pumo 2018 which was described as having “an intense aroma of plum, cherry and spice, with hints of rosemary and vanilla. A full-bodied wine, soft and balanced, full of ripe fruit flavours in an easy drinking style”. I’m in full agreement with that description. It is also listed as being ideal with savoury first courses, red meat, and game so I felt I’d made a good choice.
And with that we’d pretty much run out of space for any more food. We settled for a couple of dessert wine options instead of dessert, and were given them on the house for our patience.
By the time we’d done it was close to midnight and although the streets were still rowdy, no one bothered us. We walked back to the hotel and fell into bed for a good night’s sleep.