Restaurant review: Mya LacarteBy Hilary Scott
January 18, 2012
Sometimes food reviewers make enormous sacrifices for their readers.
I, dear reader, am one.
Yes sometimes I eat things I’m not particularly keen on just for you.
I would have thought eating something I believe is iffy would have been impossible at Mya Lacarte, the now well-known gem of Caversham and jewel of Reading’s restaurant scene. But the day had come.
I was studying Mya’s autumn/winter menu and I asked about the trio of twice baked soufflés with cobnut dressing, posh leaves and beetroot crisps (£7.95), one of the starters.
What flavours were in this starter which, if you think about it, is a real test of any kitchen?
I mean one soufflé can ruin a chef, but three? Mad or brave?
Owner Matt informed me they were cheese, beetroot and, damn it, my bete noir, watercress.
Now I know round here we produce some cracking watercress and I don’t actually hate it.
I’d just rather not eat it.
But hey, two of the three sounded fab and I could nibble the green one and wolf down the cheese and beetroot varieties.
And I did exactly that – except after nibbling around the crusty, oozy edge of the green one I devoured it just as fast.
Magnificent Mya had magicked away the peppery harshness and in its place was a rounded, mellow, creamy, greeny sensation.
Genius! Not mad, brave.
Having established that I was happy, my two dining companions did not need to establish anything to enjoy the leg and loin of Tadley rabbit with a winter warming mustard Cognac sauce and tarragon parsley crust.
At the same price as the soufflés it went down well – and for the same price again a Gressingham duck had been portioned into a filo parcel, confit leg and, unusually, came with the crispy tongue.
With a dipping sauce, spring onions, kohlrabi and carrot salad this was Asian-influenced but British at heart and pronounced “just lovely”.
Mains at Mya normally really excite and I spend far more time debating this course than any other – meat, fish and always a decent veggie option or two.
I had loin of Watlington pork wrapped in air-dried Cumbrian ham, baked apple, cabbage, peas, honey parsnips and cider jus (£18.95) which was very good. The pork was juicy, the apple sweet, the cabbage crispy, the peas creamy, the jus sweet and sourish. A lot to get right but all perfect.
Also pronounced good was the slow cooked shoulder of mutton, spiced monkfish cheek ragu, bacon crisp, chard and chips, red onion rings (£17.95). The monkfish cheek looked dainty but was labelled really big on flavour and Mya’s chips are renowned, fat and crispy.
Our other guest had the duo of Ashampstead venison, butternut squash and thyme purée, haggis dumplings and chocolate jus (£18.95) which is quick and slow-cooked local meat. The haunch is pan fried and served pink, and the other part is the knuckle, braised for four hours on the bone (including bone marrow) in a game stock.
Clever cuts and clever cooking.
There is no doubt you’ll want a dessert if you ask for a look at the menu again no matter how good and how big your main course was.
I gave the Mya Trifle with chestnut mousse, perry pear jelly, meringue, candied walnuts (£5.95) a try – I love trifle and the nutty mousse with the sharp pear jelly and sweet baby meringues on top was a good match of flavours.
Home made honey soufflé, caramelised thyme ice cream, honeycomb (£8.50) was another gem of a light thing whipped up by the kitchen and the apple charlotte, elderflower clotted cream, crab apple jelly and warm blackberries (£6.25) was a pud for the coldest of winter’s days.
I will be back, though, before Mya’s menu changes for the rich chocolate brownie cake, mint white chocolate ice cream and beetroot marshmallows (£8.95), especially now New York has declared that marshmallows are the new cupcakes and marshmallow shops are springing up all over Manhattan.
And you know, that’s Mya’s secret – it keeps up with the food trends without sacrificing great local ingredients and clean tastes, which is not an easy thing to do. But like the soufflés at the start of my meal, Mya and its team aren’t afraid to be bold.
Now that’s what I call a great place to eat.
- Telephone: 0118 9463400
- Website: www.myalacarte.co.uk
- Address: Mya Lacarte
5 Prospect Street,
Caversham. RG4 8JB