Hibiscus Fine Dining is certainly for those who seek the finer things in life; but fine dining doesn’t always mean expensive. Hibiscus has brought the very best of fine dining you would experience in places like London, right here in the heart of Northampton.
I was surprised to hear that not many people knew where Hibiscus Fine Dining was located, but it couldn’t be situated in a better location: tucked inside the Royal & Derngate. If you enter from the main entrance, you can find signs to Hibiscus Fine Dining heading towards upstairs, where you will immediately see the signage across the doors.
Personally, the location couldn’t have been better picked as it’s ideal for pre-theatre dining which can make for a memorable evening, especially if you have a special occasion coming up (or not, why not!)
Hibiscus Fine Dining has only been open for just over a year, but since it’s opening, it has only grown and thanks to Head Chef Sam and his passion for all things fine dining, locally sourced ingredients and food taste and decoration, Hibiscus wouldn’t be as successful without his guidance and input.
We were kindly invited to sample their new à la carte Spring menu, which officially launches this week and it offers something for everybody.
You’re welcomed by Sam the head chef himself, as well as the waitresses, as the front bar consists of an open plan kitchen, so you can see Sam in action as you walk in, along with a beautiful display of gin, wine and whisky bottles. We were relieved of our coats and we made our way to our table, facing the big windows with an view of Guildhall Road.
Our waitress came over and greeted us, all smiles and willingness to be of assistance, whilst she asked whether we would like any water for the table, along with our drinks choices. As it was a special occasion, I went for a large glass of Pinot Grigio which I planned to drink throughout the evening, whilst Josh went for a Phipps NBC Ale to start with.
We couldn’t help but admire our surroundings - one thing Hibiscus does well is presentation and it’s certainly not missed when it comes to their decor. As it’s a private dining space, it didn’t feel overcrowded and we were able to enjoy each other’s company in perfect harmony.
We were surprised when the waitress came over and presented us with a beautiful display of canapes, 3 of each - this would be the start of discovering just how creative head chef, Sam, could be.
We were presented with a Rabbit Won Ton and Hazelnut, a Seaweed Cracker with tuna tartare and a Yoghurt cracker with aubergine and harrisa. A combination of many flavours on one plate, so I was curious to see how they would all work together.
Starting off with the Rabbit Won Ton with Hazelnut; biting into it was like a sweeter and crispier fortune cookie, but when you reached the meaty inside which was soft and full of flavour, the combination came to life and swirled with hints of rabbit - a new experience for me!
I followed that up with the Yoghurt capape which had a big hit of spice, which shortly calmed down with the taste of the yoghurt and aubergine mixed in, then the final and perfect way to end this beginning taste combination; the Seaweed Cracker with tuna tartare which was light, airy and refreshing!
After that, we were presented with a basket of freshly made bread with a very generous scoop of homemade onion butter, sprinkled with sea salt and pepper which looked AM-AZ-ING.
And I was not wrong; the taste of the butter mixed with the fluffiness was divine. Anything sprinkled with sea salt is a winner for me and the onion taste was not too overpowering, but creamy and delicate.
Perfectly timed, our starters arrived along with an elegantly poured glass of red wine for Josh. My starter was the Confit Duck Terrine with radish, tarragon and potato espuma whilst Josh went for the Grilled Asparagus, with egg yolk fudge, parmesan and truffle.
Whilst I usually stray away from radishes, I am so glad this particular dish had them included because the crunch of them added to the unique texture of the confit duck terrine - I love the fact that Hibiscus gave me confidence to try things I wouldn't normally try and I love even more that they can pull it off!
I have never tried Espuma before and though it lacks in appearence, you can't deny the creamy texture that just melted in my mouth.
Josh's starter looked beautifully fresh, elegant and full of spring colours. Though, he wasn't sure what egg yolk fudge would taste like, it surprised us both just how moist and flavoursome it was!
Main course came promptly and our mouths were well and truly warmed up to experience more taste sensations. I went for the Chicken breast with heritage tomato tartlet, rocket and chicken roti which gave me lots of italian vibes, especially the rich but sweet tomato tartlet which just collapsed in my mouth!
The chicken was tender and cooked perfectly and the chicken roti on top gave it that crunch element which brought the whole dish together.
Josh’s dish looked absolutely dreamy and I couldn’t help but have a taste. He went for the Roasted Lamb Rump with lamb fat potato, wild garlic espuma, broad beans, wild garlic crisp and a lamb jus and I don’t think I have ever been more jealous of a dish! Sam’s execution of all the dishes we had been served so far was of outstanding quality.
The lamb jus was so rich and you could tell this was cooked in the same pot as everything else, as all the flavours came to life… I couldn’t help but dip the rest of my bread into his lamb jus! But in Josh’s words, his dish was ‘mind blowing’.
Last, but certainly not least… DESSERT! There’s always room for that! We both got so invested in our conversation and enjoying our surroundings that we hadn’t kept track of the time - clearly we were having too much fun!
Out came a generously portioned and colourful bright yellow Honey Parfait with white chocolate, mead and grapefruit which had a sugary, honey taste to it at the start, then when the grapefruit comes to play, it gives a dance of sourness to the whole dish which is then calmed down by the white chocolate.
All of Sam’s dishes take you on a foodie taste journey that will leave you remembering it forever.
Josh has a very indulgent and seductive looking Dark chocolate torte with coconut panna cotta, raspberry and hazelnut ice cream.
Josh had this whole dish to himself with no taste tests from me, but he looked like he was enjoying it as he had to pause for a moment whilst he was literally melting in his seat over the pure joy the dark chocolate torte gave him. He raved about it the whole way home!
We were then asked if we would like any after dinner drinks, which on this occasion, we passed, however when the option for coffee came up, we were happy to oblige! However, I just went for the decaff to avoid being up all night!
But to our surprise, with our coffees came along a small plate of delicately placed petit fours, two dark chocolate and two berry one’s. They made for an excellent ending whilst we involve ourselves in conversation over what our highlights of the evening were.
To which, Sam, the head chef, approaches our table to speak to us as if we’re personal friends of his - which we thought was super friendly of him that he cared so much to take the time away from the kitchen to hear our thoughts.
He’s really invested in hearing our opinions and took into consideration everything we said. He also shared some of his upcoming dishes which continue with the seasonal menu theme, which sounded really exciting!
Hibiscus Fine Dining is a place which everyone in Northamptonshire and beyond should be aware of. From decor and surroundings, to food taste and presentation, you can guarantee you will receive all the bells and whistles when you come to dine here, as well as a personal service, care and attention from the head chef himself - leaving you walking away with a memorable experience which you can treasure forever. Even better if you combine it with a theatre show!
I’m looking forward to returning on another occasion to try their tasting menu, which is also available for guests to try if they don’t fancy a traditional three course meal.
The three course set menu comes at £39.90, which was complimentary on this occasion and our drinks came to a total of £22, which we paid for.
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