ONE of the many benefits of eating out is sampling the creations of talented chefs who work tirelessly to perfect a dish.
Much time goes into blending the right ingredients, sampling and critiquing their creations. Trial and error will form part of a chef’s work, no doubt. And once perfected they serve it up to be loved by customers.
But there’s one place which lets you be the chef – almost.
Temujin is one of the town’s most popular restaurants and a firm favourite for restaurant-goers who have the Milnsbridge and Sowerby Bridge venues to pick from. And they’ve brought something new – Mongolian food.
But they’re adventurous to let the punters choose and blend ingredients and flavours for themselves – though I’m not sure what the Mongolians would make of my first foray into the country’s cuisine.
Paul and I spent a great evening in the Milnsbridge venue – a first trip for us both who had long put it at the top of our ‘restaurants to visit’ list.
We called on a Wednesday night and were surprised to see it busy – a sign of a good restaurant. We hadn’t booked but a waiter showed us to a table in the bar area, handed us the menus and explained how it worked, then took our drinks and starters order.
For starter I went for breaded mozzarella melts – fingers of mozzarella cheese deep fried served with red onion chutney, while Paul chose the vegetable Warrior’s rolls served with sweet chilli sauce.
We shared them both, the mozzarella melts were the perfect starter while the warrior’s rolls had plenty of filling in the rolls and they tasted fresh and were boosted by the sweet chilli dip.
For mains we went for the buffet – and that’s where the fun started.
There’s an array of ingredients to pick from – for the meat eaters that night there was venison, gammon, chicken, beef and pork.
For those who like seafood you could sample calamari, mussels and the wonderfully named mahi mahi. Paul had to ask what it was and they explained it was an exotic fish.
For vegetarians there was quorn and tofu to pick from, plus for everyone an array of vegetables – from pak choi and bamboo shoots to sweetcorn, pepper, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, red onion... the list goes on and on.
Once you’ve picked your ingredients it’s over to the chefs who cook it for you, but first you have to pick an oil, seasoning and a garnish. This is where your own talent for putting ingredients together either thrives or fails.
My first dish was tofu cooked in a ginger oil with sweet and sour sauce topped with parsley and I added a few noodles, bamboo shoots, pak choi, peppers and pineapple pieces.
It was the best of my three dishes I had cooked by one of the young talented chefs. My selections blended nicely and the final flavour was tasty and, in my opinion, worked well.
My second dish was quorn cooked in a garlic oil with Thai green sauce sprinkled with spring onions, along with a mix of vegetables.
As I handed my plate of ingredients to the chef to cook he warned me the Thai green sauce was spicy – ‘that’s fine’ I said. He was right, a mouthful of water followed each mouthful of food.
I liked the dish, but it’s for those with a fearless attitude to spice.
It should have ended there. I was full and had enjoyed my meal so far, but Paul persuaded me to try one last dish and I went for a simple mix of vegetables in a mixed herb oil, white wine sauce with fresh ginger on top – I’d let myself down, my ingredients didn’t work well together. Chef Joanne was no more.
Paul was the meat eater of the two of us and was therefore ordered to sample the unusual offerings.
He started safe – beef cooked in garlic oil with sweet and sour sauce topped with a garlic and spring onion garnish. He added a handful of vegetables and noodles to the dish.
Like mine, his first dish was the best of his three combinations and the flavours worked well.
After that he became more adventurous with a seafood dish – merging the exotic mahi mahi with calamari cooked in chili oil with an oyster sauce with some chilis to garnish.
He described the mahi mahi as having a meaty taste, similar to tuna and was glad to have sampled something he’d never experienced before. The calamari was well cooked and the chili provided it with a welcome kick.
Like me, his third and final dish may have been a step too far – it would certainly have frightened any vampires away.
For reasons he now cannot explain, he chose for his venison a garlic oil with a blackbean and garlic sauce and a garlic garnish! That’s a lot of garlic and an epic fail on Paul’s part. Mixing them together was not the best move. Still, lesson learnt.
For reviewing purposes we had to sample dessert – I chose cheesecake with Toblerone and Baileys. The Baileys taste came out in full, Toblerone bits were inside the cheesecake and the biscuit base was deliciously buttery. It was a good choice and I even recommended it to those on our neighbouring table.
Paul, feeling a little full and being all garliced out, went for the ice-cream. A simple enough dish for those wanting something sweet but not overly filling.
Bridge Croft Mills, Milnsbridge
Tel 01484 461 111
Opening hours: Monday closed. Tuesday - Saturday 5.30 pm until late. Sunday and Public Holidays - 1 pm until late
Disabled access: Yes, although the main restaurant is upstairs with a wheelchair lift provided.
The bill: £56.38
Would you go back? Definitely.