Reviewed by Dee
A Lost Society is the name of a new Midlands based fine dining business run by Chef Josh Porter and Front of House Manager Jade Hollingworth. It is so new in fact that the pop-up restaurant which was hosted in the 6/8 Kafe in Birmingham’s Millennium Point was their inaugural event. Jay and I had been looking forward to attending, after being notified of the event via Twitter.
We were already acquainted with Josh, having attended a Pop-Up restaurant which he had co-hosted as part of a previous business venture back in August 2015 (click here for details). We also knew Jade through the Bird with Words food blog (click here for details).
The name ‘A Lost Society’ reflects the 1920s/Prohibition-era which inspired Josh and Jade’s offering, and they had taken care to reflect this not only in the food that was served, but also with the music that was playing during the event. There were definitely swing-style covers of Single Ladies and Seven Nation Army amongst others which we think may have been by the Postmodern Jukebox. This pairing of nostalgic and modern would continue through the evening, and created a distinctive brand.
There were three other parties of diners in attendance, which made for an intimate evening. The venue did feel a little dark, with the main light coming from the small candles on the tables, but the photos that will follow certainly don’t reflect that, so perhaps I’m being overly critical here.
The formal menu for the evening consisted of four courses, as pictured above. The titles of the dishes certainly exuded classical dining, though the presentation of the menu on a luggage tag tied to an empty bottle was definitely more modern.
Jade introduced each dish as it was served, and Josh provided more details during the times when he wasn’t busy in the kitchen. It was clear that both were passionate about their business and were keen to receive feedback from the diners.
The courses on the menu were preceded by Amuse Bouches of Parmesan Gougères, and Chicken Liver Parfait with Beetroot Gel and the smallest garnish of Thyme leaves. The presentation of these was excellent; The gougères were small, neat and baked just right. Texture and taste-wise they reminded me of a much lighter and more delicate cheese scone. The bold combination of chicken liver, beetroot and thyme worked well in the second amuse bouche, with all of the flavours, even the thyme, being easily discernible.
The Princess Consommé consisted of chicken consommé, chicken mousseline, diced pickled celery and carrot, and finished with a crispy chicken skin garnish. We were informed that the chicken mousseline was authentic for the period of the Great Depression, when chicken breast was scarce and expensive. It had a lot more flavour than I was preparing for. The heavier textures of the chicken were in small enough portions to allow the freshness of the broth and vegetables to make their presence felt. We both liked it a lot.
For the Fish course, the Ceviche of Sea Trout was joined on the plate by a Pea and Wasabi Sorbet and garnished with Rapeseed Oil Powder and an Edible Viola flower. Needless to say this would prove to be the most colourful dish on the menu. We were most curious about the Rapeseed Oil Powder, which we’d never encountered before. It had a texture similar to very fine parmesan cheese, but melted in the mouth and had quite a subtle taste. It went well with the fish, which was nicely finished in lime juice, but less so with the sorbet. I was expecting jets of fire to shoot up my nose on account of the sorbet having wasabi in it, but the primary flavour was sweetness from the peas. There was only the faintest hint of wasabi, though Jay noticed it more than I did. I enjoyed all the components of this dish but ended up separating the sorbet out and eating it on its own, as I found its flavour profile too sweet when taken alongside the fish and powdered oil.
A much richer main course followed: Breast of lamb with asparagus, potatoes cooked in Beurre Noisette, and a Sauce Paloise. This was probably my favourite course of the evening. It had a basic elegance, both in appearance and taste. We hadn’t heard of Sauce Paloise before, but were told that it was made from a Hollandaise sauce base, with added shallots and mint. It was served in a small portion, which was fine as it was very buttery and quite strong tasting. The asparagus was slightly charred, just as we like it and the potatoes were lightly salted on the outside and soft on the inside. The lamb too had a slight crispness to the edges but was cooked enough to give it a pleasantly soft texture.
Dessert was a slice of Lemon Tart, which Jade had baked. Sometimes, lemon tarts can be ruined by either too much garnish on top of the tart itself, or on the plate, but it was good to see that this one was served unaccompanied and with a simple topping of caramelised sugar. It was a great bake, both in terms of the tart filling and the pastry case. This time honoured classic dessert made a great follow up to the Old-School style main course.
There was one final dish to be served before the end of the evening. It was a Financier with a slice of pear, a garnish of pickled pear and finished with a treacle dressing. It was described as a petit four, but was more of a second dessert (a grand four? - Jay). There were some interesting contrasts formed by the financier and sliced pear, which were light and simple, and the small cubes of pickled pear and the dressing which were sharp and rich.
There was a ‘bring your own bottle’ drinks policy for the evening, so before we arrived at Millennium Point we called into Loki Wines to select our tipple. We chose a bottle of Chateau Lestrille Capmartin, a white wine from the Bordeaux region. The wine was straw yellow in colour, with a tart fruitiness on the nose, and a dry grassy taste with a hint of gooseberry at the finish. It paired best with the first two courses but we enjoyed it throughout the evening. It was kept chilled for us and refilled as we wanted it, which we very much appreciated.
All in all, we had a great evening. We had been well looked after, and it was clear that our hosts were passionate about what they were offering and wanted to share their vision with their customers. Price wise it was excellent value, with £30 buying what was in effect amuse bouches and a five course meal.
At the end of the evening, Josh and Jade shared a few ideas which they have for future events, so we wish them well with their new venture and look forward to joining them again soon.