Yet another leaving lunch, this time in the fancy environs of the Royal Exchange. Upstairs from the beautiful main hall, Sauterelle has a set lunch menu with two courses for £20 (or three for £23.50). Our meal took a bit longer than expected - almost an hour and a half - but the location was lovely (with arched windows looking out onto the main hall) and the food was good too.
The set lunch began with an amuse bouche - tasty quenelles of smoked fish pate served on slivers of toast - followed by some fantastic bread (happily, the bread basket came round three times). With a choice of white, brown or seeded, served warm and slathered with copious amounts of excellent butter, this was one of the highlights of my meal.
The set menu offers a choice of three starters or mains, and with a varied selection of meat, fish, and vegetarian dishes there was something to suit all of us. I began with the trio of beetroot: almost too pretty to eat, this was an artfully presented dish with jewel-bright slivers of fuschia and yellow beetroot peeking out from a tangle of fresh salad leaves. The smear of beetroot puree, dotted with nutty pumpkin seeds was an interesting addition to the dish, while the tangy goats curd was an excellent counterbalance to the sweetness of the beetroot.
The ham hock and foie gras terrine was the most substantial starter: a huge portion of layered pate served with toast, red onion marmelade, and a baby leaf salad. The marinated sardines was a slightly daintier option, almost as pretty as my beetroot, with a colourful green bean and potato salad and a tear-drop shaped pool of vivid green watercress mayonnaise.
For mains, we were given a choice of butternut squash risotto, seared gurnard, or confit leg of duck. I opted for the gurnard. A firm, white-fleshed fish, this was served with cauliflower puree and ratatouille, and drizzled with a rather unpleasant curry oil. I was intrigued to try the yuzu* jellies, but couldn't seem to locate them on my plate!
Confit duck leg came with an enormous helping of sausage cassoulet (as with the terrine, it was much larger than the other dishes) - while reportedly tasty, it did receive some criticism for being slightly unrefined, and apparently felt a bit too close to 'sausage and beans' given the smartness of the location.
The risotto was a brilliant buttercup yellow, highlighted with a garnish of lime-green basil oil and sun-dried tomatoes. I forgot to ask how it tasted, but the picture looks pretty good (if a bit blurry), and - in the absence of any voiced complaints - I am assuming it was tasty!
With two courses taking close to 90 minutes, we didn't have time (or the stomach capacity, to be honest!) for dessert, so we hurried off back to the office. The food was good, but the most impressive thing is the location - definitely a good spot for a business lunch with overseas clients.