Cheval Blanc Review by Joëlle O’Toole
Tuesday, 6th September 2016
Located in the Moseley hub, next door to the Dark Horse; Cheval Blanc is the latest venture from the Humble Pub Company (the designers of the renowned Prince of Wales).
Cheval Blanc is referred to primarily as a wine bar, but offers a full bodied sensory experience, of which wine is only a single contingent. Having a great enthusiasm for unusual flavour combinations I was very excited by this eclectic cocktail menu and would never have been able to decide which ones to sample. Instead I asked the incredibly knowledgeable Rory for his recommendations and my friend and I were happy to share the journey. Beginning with ‘Smoke me Sideways’ which actually tastes like it’s been barbecued in a saloon in the wild wild west. Accompanied by ‘Bush Bred Spike’ – August in a glass; combining a sweet blend of seasonal blackberries and lavender, actually made on site!
In fact I since discovered that not only are all of the syrups used in the cocktail made on-site, they are also hand picked from local sources. The lavender is gathered in the centre of Moseley and the other ingredients are sourced seasonally and locally also. The menus will always be seasonal to reflect both availability and new ideas / innovations.
The food was just as outstanding; as a vegetarian I ordered the heritage tomatoes which were varied, bursting with unique flavours, enhanced by a basil dressing and in true Italian style; only the best quality mozzarella. My pescatarian friend enjoyed the smoked salmon, which has a Nordic twist and was so beautiful to look at it seemed almost a shame to eat. I loved the grounded English style chicory, apple and walnut combination, a perfect light meal for a night out and we couldn’t resist a bowl of olives which we continued to graze on until we left.
We did order a glass of Gruner Veltliner wine which is perfectly described on the menu as ‘green fruits’. For my own desert I couldn’t resist another cocktail indulgence, and this one was aptly named ‘La Goulue Ambre’. I probably loved this even more than the previous two, as it spirited me away to that elusive underground Parisian jazz bar that I never succeed in finding in Paris itself. Such a warm, homely and yet complex and unusual mix of flavours and so perfectly suited to thecomfortable yet distinctly beautiful setting.
The design of the bar of manages to create a feeling of earthy opulence, with the fabulous mural (painted by local artist Ian Muir) and the amazing spiral staircase which is the wine cellar as fascinating visual features. The décor has a feeling of retro chic, with vivid velvets and an unusual collection of mid-20th Century tassled lamps.
Despite it having an upmarket look and feel, the quality of ingredients and the time which has been invested into selecting all of menus and perfecting the environment makes the prices incredibly reasonable. I really can’t imagine anywhere more perfect to spend a memorable and enjoyable evening. The staff are so warm, welcoming and accommodating you almost feel like you’re visiting the home of somebody with a rather amazing selection of bottles.
I’d like to sample the eponymous; Chateau Cheval Blanc at £800 next time I visit though!!