A cocktail is a fine way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, or indeed any day. And Limetree Kitchen offers an elegant, surprisingly spacious environment to drink and dine in. It’s stylish, but laid back, and our service is friendly and approachable.
Their ‘Gin Kitchen’ promises gin and tonic with a twist: there are six different gins on the menu, listed alongside their botanicals. I’m drawn to the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom of the Bathtub gin, and match it with a rosemary and thyme mixer (£9.80). It’s startlingly fresh, like drinking a fragrant garden on a crisp autumn afternoon. As I write, I can recall the flavour distinctly, which is always a good sign!
Rebecca goes more maverick, opting for the Chapel Down gin (with notes of citrus peel and juniper) and chooses a marmalade and chilli mixer (£9.80). It’s certainly more colourful: a pale yellow to dark orange gradient, with flakes of chilli, and bits of orange zest. The gamble pays off: too overwhelmed to describe it immediately after her first sip – due to its intense flavour – she then collects herself and calmly declares that it’s the “nicest drink she’s ever had”. (And this, from one of Viva’s most established food reviewers, is saying something.) It has a fruity, fun, mostly marmalade flavour, with an occasional chilli hit, and a striking sherbet-like tang from the orange zest.
There’s also the small matter of the food for us to try, too. I choose the steak tartare, which is rich and herby, and comes with bone marrow butter on toast, which is like an oily, meatier version of eggy bread (£9.50). We share a bowl of tasty skinny fries (£3.70), which we pair with a nice, garlicy aioli.
Rebecca chooses the salt-baked celeriac, and enjoys the gooey texture, “like potatoes cooked just right” (£8). It comes with a vegan feta and coconut yogurt, which has been whipped into a mousse-like texture: a strong cheesy taste. Thinly-sliced apple and hazelnuts give the dish some complementary sweetness – and a satisfyingly crunchy texture – and also help to make it the most visually impressive dish of the day. We share a bowl of green beans with truffle oil, which raises the topic of how to adequately describe good truffle oil: for this we settle on salty, and gleefully umami (£4.20).
There is a quietly brilliant tone to Limetree Kitchen, which sits well with us. One would feel equally at home on a formal occasion, or with a friend for a relaxed catch up.
14 Station Street, limetreekitchen.co.uk