Pairing food and whisky has been an emerging trend over the past few years, with numerous bars and restaurants bringing together a whole host of foods and partnering them with Scotland’s national drink. Some of these combos have gone down a treat. And others need to go back to the drawing board. I knew I was in safe hands though when I headed along to Restaurant Mark Greenaway a few weeks ago for the launch for The Balvenie Room.
The private dining room is a cosy snug located in the underbelly of Mark’s award winning restaurant. Sitting between 6 and 16 diners, the room has been designed with a nod to both the historic and the artistic. The building’s Georgian origins can be seen in the exposed stone work and the original stone stove. These sit beautifully next to unique art installations that have been created using The Balvenie whisky bottles, which gives the room a warm and welcoming amber glow – the perfect place for an early Burns Supper in the depths of January.
As well putting its stamp on the room, The Balvenie will be working with Mark to bring some of its great malts to the chef’s bespoke menus. As expected, Mark has a deeper understanding of food and whisky than most, knowing that the two should be paired with each other when the course or dish suits it, rather than just for the sake of it.
My fellow diners and I were given a sneak peak of what this would look like with a specially designed eight course meal, which was nothing short of sublime. Mark and his team had thrown caution to the wind by bringing together some of Scotland’s best produce in an exciting and experimental way. I’m by no means a food blogger, so I’ll bow down to the passion and expertise of Citylicious, who have given the meal a substantial write-up. They are also much, much better at taking pictures than me! It’s safe to say though that it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
Only the pre-dessert (which is apparently a thing!) of white chocolate and apple sorbet, served with green apple jelly and compressed apple had been paired with a whisky – The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old. After the big duck flavours the main course, the pre-desert was a delightfully fresh palate cleanser, with the crunch and zing of the apple also coming through. These mixed beautifully with the sweet, fruity flavours of the Caribbean cask, which is one of my favourites from The Balvenie’s range.
The evening was also bookended by a few other creations from The Balvenie. The arrival cocktail featured one of the distillery’s malts, mixed with Pedro Ximenez Sherry and Plum Bitters. Regular readers will know that cocktails go straight to my head, and this one didn’t disappoint, warming me from the inside on what was a dreich January night. Before heading home, we were also treated to a few rounds of The Balvenie PortWood 21 Year Old, which I’d highly recommended for those searching for a fruity whisky that isn’t overly sweet.
The remainder of the courses were served with some fantastic wines, as Mark only brought whisky into the line-up when he felt it truly complemented and improved the dish. However, he seems keen to explore the relationship between The Balvenie and food in the future, and I for one can’t wait to see the results.