Find out who is Spencer and why do we want to eat with him? (That’s eat with, not eat him).
You might be forgiven for not knowing who Spencer Ollington is. Until a year ago, I didn’t either. Spencer was the chef who scooped the coveted Chef of the Year title in the 2016 Milton Keynes Food & Leisure Awards.
Fast forward a year and Spencer has given up his day job as executive chef for the unlikely but highly regarded Milton Keynes branch of Bistro Live and started up his own company called Eat with Spencer.
From being a private chef to mass catering for corporate clients, he is championing bespoke food and catering in Milton Keynes.
Last month on Mr LouBou and I’s 4th wedding anniversary (YAY US!) I had the pleasure of attending Eat with Spencer’s first pop-up restaurant at the Wharf Distillery at Wakefield Country Courtyard. Are you curious to know what a pop-up restaurant is like? Then read on as here’s a little insight to what happens when Spencer invites you to eat with him…
Wharf Distillery was the location for Eat with Spencer’s first pop-up restaurant. An Artisan Distillery & Produce shop in a converted barn located on a retail country courtyard in Potterspury.
Upon entering I was pleasantly surprised how chic the interiors looked dressed up as a restaurant. I did worry that eating within a retailers would give a funny vibe to the eating experience but in reality it was just perfect. Artisan, a bit rustic, full of character and felt perfectly normal to be sat amongst lots of food produce and quirky items whilst preparing to enjoy a meal.
The table and chairs were lovely. I approve of the use of white table cloths which ensured us diners knew that this wasn’t going to be just a simple sandwich and cup of tea jobby. We were here for formal dining, proper food, from a professional.
When we entered Wharf Distillery we received a warm greeting from the hostess for the evening who directed us to collect a glass of Prosecco. FYI The Lunetta Prosecco that was served on the evening is stocked at Wharf Distillery and is absolutely, moreishly, delicious. I think it retails for around £10 a bottle (which makes it not a shabby price either).
What else goes with a lovely cold glass of Prosecco but little morsels in the form of canapés?
There were a good few servers milling around amongst the crowd of us diners with a plethora of canapés atop of large slate boards.
There were four varieties of canapés; Crackling Ham Hock & Apple Bites, Roquefort & Peach Melba Bruschetta, Beetroot Cured Salmon, Wasabi Cream, Lemon & Chive Choux and Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Quinoa Fritta with Sweetcorn Relish.
The perfect light nibble to get the taste buds kicked into gear as all of them packed so much flavour into a small mouthful. My personal favourites were both the salmon choux and the sweet potato fritter which I could have quite happily nibbled all night with Prosecco! (Maybe another night).
Next we took our seats for the main event. As we sat throughout the meal there was a live singer performing for us.
Local singer Charlotte Rhodes welcomed the crowd of diners but sweetly informed us that she didn’t want our undivided attention and wished us an enjoyable meal before she started.
I absolutely loved having music to listen to as we ate but it was the perfect kind of background music, non intrusive, never was too loud so we couldn’t talk to the other diners at our table and was soft and pretty to hear when we did pause our conversation.
The starter was Locally Air Cured Prosciutto Ham, Asparagus, Poached Duck Egg, Spiced Pangrattato, Clementine Vinaigrette.
How Spencer managed to create dozens upon dozens of perfectly cooked poached eggs in a shop is beyond me (or the rest of the meal). Hats off to the chef!
The main course was Rump of Lamb, Salsa Verdi Gnocchi, Smoked Parsnip Purée, Damson Gin Jus and Tender Stem.
First off, who would have ever thought to smoke a parsnip? But I am so glad they did. This smoked parsnip purée was delicious. A very classy dish that pays homage to the lamb with lovely accompaniments.
Dessert was Spencer’s dessert that he served up in the chef cook off last year that helped win him the coveted Chef of the Year 2016 title. A trio of desserts that included; Chocolate Fondant, Pistachio Ice Cream, White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake and Tropical Samosa, Mango & Lime Coulis.
I remember having real trouble accepting the sweet little pastry parcel last year when I was a judge for the cook off that Spencer won. But this year, I must have softened and realised it is actually a very cute and tasty samosa (Spencer, do note this!). The chocolate fondant was gooey in the middle, just the way it should be.
That take on a cheesecake, that little pile of creamy stuff wrapped in a crumb that the samosa is leaning on; I would happily stay in bed with that, any given day. I want it again. Sooner the better.
The ticket price was £45 pp. For the £45 it included the welcome drink of a glass of prosecco (or soft), plenty of canapés, three course meal with wine flight/choice of soft drinks too.
I didn’t drink the wine flight as I was driving (just the prosecco and a very nice tasting dessert wine for Bou) but for £45 even if I was only drinking soft drinks, it would have been extremely good value. Especially when you think of everything that was included in the evening, a full night of food, trimmings and even entertainment.
Thanks Spencer for cooking us a lovely anniversary meal and congratulations on your first pop-up restaurant, I can’t wait for the next one!
Also, thanks to our lovely dining companions from our table who gave us brilliant conversations on marriage, children and food sciences. Wonderful company who were really understanding of my current anxiety situation and eating in public. Despite my awkwardness you made me feel at ease. Much love.
Here’s the chef himself snapped at the end of the evening alongside the owner of Wharf Distillery, Laurence.
Do you want to Eat with Spencer find him and his food here: https://www.facebook.com/EatwithSpencer/