The use of fresh, in-season produce to create seasonal menus has become increasingly important to diners in recent years. Hand in glove with the rising importance of food provenance – knowing where and how ingredients were produced – it has been key in the renaissance in the British restaurant scene. Both of these are key to the ethos behind the food produced at Aston Marina’s No.26 Staffordshire restaurant, which is renowned for serving creative, seasonal cuisine in a laid-back waterside setting.
At No.26 seasonal menus mean seasonal menus – the restaurant produces four editions per year; Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter in addition to a special festive menu over the Christmas period. This means that the award-winning kitchen team is constantly challenged with finding creative ways to use the freshest ingredients that are in-season at the time. Alongside seasonal menu dishes, the restaurant has a daily specials board that maximises use of ingredients with particularly short windows of availability, and also serves daily fish specials with a focus on sustainably-sourced fish.
While the majority of starter, main and dessert options change with the seasons, diners can rest assured that some of the eateries’ most popular dishes – including beer battered fish and chips, 28-day aged Staffordshire steaks from the grill, pies of the day and pizzas from the authentic stone baked pizza oven – are available year-round. When it comes to seasonal choice, all tastes are catered for. Whether your preference is classic British or you favour something more exotic, there will also be something to tickle your tastebuds – and there are always strong vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options available.
To give a flavour of the kind of seasonal dishes one can expect from the No.26 kitchen, in Springtime fresh flavours that showcase spring’s very best ingredients are the order of the day. For example, starts may include delights such as locally sourced asparagus, soft poached egg and Hollandaise sauce; grilled goats’ cheese salad with red onion & port marmalade and toasted walnuts, Parma Ham with mozzarella and cherry vine tomato fondue. For mains you can expect a diverse range of styles– such as Duo of Free Range Spring Lamb with smoked pancetta and duck fat Lyonnaise, Szechuan Infused Pork Belly with wilted bok choi and sticky rice, a Spring Leek & Cherry Tomato Tagliatelle, or a Pan Seared Fillet of Sea Bass with saffron and coriander potato, crisp soft shell crab and piperade.
Summertime seasonal menus are just as tempting – recent editions include starters such as crispy shredded beef bruschetta; sweet potato, shallot & sweetcorn quesedillas; lemon pepper southern-style chicken; crispy calamari; duck & spring onion croquette; classic caprese salad and a delicious King prawn salad. Summer main dishes might offer choices as diverse as 35-day aged fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef; roast fillet of Atlantic cod & flaked salmon linguine; sweet pepper, chickpea and apricot tagine; slow-cooked pork with ginger & lime; garlic & rosemary marinated lamb chop and a chicken supreme stuffed with brie and wrapped in Parma ham. Summer sweets in 2018, meanwhile, made the most of summer’s glut of fruit with classics such as raspberry & Pimms panna cotta and fresh strawberry Eton mess rubbing shoulders with a toffee & fudge cheesecake and freshly-made churros served with chocolate sauce.
No.26’s Autumn seasonal menu introduces the concept of comfort food; utilising seasonal meat and veg and often featuring locally sourced game. Starters from previous Autumn menus have included Wild Mushroom & Creamy Blue Cheese served on toasted sourdough bread; Camembert for two to share served with white bloomer, red onion & cranberry marmalade and Crispy Black Pudding served with a soft poached egg, confit cherry tomato and Hollandaise sauce. Past Autumn mains are equally mouth-watering, including Duo of Local Venison with a herb crust haunch and slow roast shoulder bonbon, dauphinoise potatoes, chestnut mushroom, marjoram, red wine & juniper jus and seasonal greens; Wild Mushroom & White Truffle Risotto and Soft Poached Cod Cheeks & Monkfish Buridda. Those with a sweet tooth, meanwhile, would delight in Apple & Blackberry Cinnamon Oat Crumble; Cappuccino & Irish Cream Cheese Cake and Poached Plum with granola and clotted cream ice cream.
The winter seasonal menu takes comfort food further, using the very best Staffordshire-reared meat and locally grown winter veg. To start, expect winter delights such as Slow Gin & Sea Salt cured salmon Gravadlax; Roast sweet potato & coriander soup, winter spiced crème fraiche; Oak smoked Scottish salmon, avruga caviar, dill crème fraiche & lime; Breaded goat’s cheese, cranberry relish, horseradish cream & walnuts and Confit of Gressingham duck leg, redcurrant & Muscadet marmalade, pea shoots. Winter menu mains are rich in flavour – think 12-hour slow cooked Staffordshire blade of beef, Yorkshire pudding & Burgundy jus; Pan seared Welsh sea bass fillet, saffron, garlic & white wine veloute, oyster tempura & crispy leeks; Moroccan spiced aubergine, chick pea & apricot pastilla, Feta cheese & butter glazed almond filo pastry served with a medley of winter veg. Winter menu puddings, meanwhile, offer sheer indulgence – think Passion fruit & vanilla cheesecake, mango sorbet; award-winning triple chocolate brownie, Madagascan vanilla ice cream & hazelnut praline (v) Orange, mandarin & basil panna cotta, Mascarpone cream & shortbread.
In short, whatever the season when you dine at No.26 you can rest assured of great choice from a fresh menu designed to make the very best of seasonal produce – and giving a very good excuse to return regularly and sample what’s new! To secure a table, call 01785 819702 or head to the online booking app.