PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 January 2014
Tucked away down a side street in Frome is the Archangel - a quirky hotel and restaurant with a talented chef at the helm
Words: Charlotte Skidmore
Luke Richards has extraordinary flair that makes him stand out from the crowd.
The Archangel is a comfortable hotel, with nice rooms – a medieval building that still maintains the feel of a 1300s inn, but recently modernised.
But for me, when I visited, it was the cooking that stood out.
One look at the menu made me realise I was stepping into the unknown.
The likes of pork top to tail, lemon and ginger infused mackerel, iced passion fruit mallow, spiced pineapple and dark chocolate ice-cream and chocolate orange desert (based on the idea of Jaffa Cakes) made this ‘safe’ eater shudder with fear.
But I need not have worried, for this flair that Luke has involves putting together flavours you never thought of putting together and – I can vouch for the desserts at least – they work really well.
Luke began his career at North Wales Catering College, before going to join the Chester Grosvenor, a Michelin star restaurant.
He then went to the Lake District and worked at the Wordsworth hotel, where he worked under the chef Michael Wignall, before going to Von Essen Hotels, where he was mainly based at The Royal Crescent in Bath.
The Archangel is Luke’s first pub, but he wants to maintain the level of a rosette-awarded restaurant.
He loves traditional pub food - fish and chips, shepherds pie etc - but he brings the quality up to restaurant standard.
He gives a real twist on the traditional - for instance the batter for the fish and chips is always made the day before and his burgers are made using the finest cuts of meat.
Alongside the more creative side of the menu, the Archangel caters for the traditionalists like myself as well.
There are offerings like a locally-reared rib-eye steak with truffle fries to keep you happy, very happy actually, while other members of the party may be rewarded for being more adventurous.
Without sounding like I ‘copped out’, the steak was actually what I had for my main course, preceded by a seafood linguini, and I was very happy with my choice.
But in the nature of trying something different my dining companion and I opted for the iced passion fruit mallow, spiced pineapple and dark chocolate ice-cream and chocolate orange desert for afters– we could not have been rewarded more for taking this leap of faith.
The homemade marshmallow oozed with so much flavour and the chocolate orange dessert – which indeed did taste like Jaffa Cakes, but better - was divine.
The flavour of rich chocolate, followed by the subtle, fruity flavours of an orange jelly went together superbly.
Originally trained as a pastry chef, Luke’s heart lies in desserts. The latest on the menu includes a peanut butter parfait, banana and jelly and a Winter dark chocolate and marmalade tart.
The Archangel is a must-go place for me.
You must go and try out Luke’s creative culinary skills – this chap is going places – if the right people can find him down the cobbled side street in Frome!