Inspired by Mediterranean beachside eating, everything about Bucket is warm and inviting. On arrival, my companion and I were delighted to discover we’d escaped from a very dark, drizzly and depressing pavement and stepped quite unexpectedly into this holiday-like luxuriate haven.
We were greeted like old friends and taken to our table. All the tables here are spacious and comfortable as our end-of-the-week weary bodies sank into big comfy seats, bursting with cushions. The ambience is all about warmth and comfort, from the people to the décor. Soft lighting and music envelop you. Warm woods mingle with wicker and rattan and are mixed with delicate linens in creams and green. Copper wine buckets gleam against huge mirrors. Lemon trees fool you into thinking you are somewhere altogether more exotic for a couple of hours.
Under the leadership of new Head Chef, Mack Barnstable, Bucket has launched its new Autumn menu.
The new Mediterranean influenced menu focuses on the laid-back, family-style eating for which Bucket is already known with an emphasis on raw dishes and small plates from the kitchen and larger dishes from the grill, all made for sharing.
And so we began our seafood-sharing odyssey…
A board of warm bread, crispy crust and soft fluffy interior arrives first, sitting next to a big inviting slick of butter. Impossible to resist on its own, we tuck in before the taramasalata we were meant to eat it with arrives.
A generous plate of the pale pink delicacy comes sprinkled with spring onion and paprika; its rich flavour and smooth texture paired perfectly with the tiniest squeeze of lemon.
Two plump oysters are savoured, one with a more traditional vinaigrette, the other happily matched with a dash of bloody mary.
Shellfish popcorn arrives in one of the eponymous buckets. The popcorn is in fact cockles and muscles fried in a crisp batter and dunked (if you wish) into an range of the most delicious homemade sauces including a roast garlic aioli which was the best we’d tasted, a delicate citrus mayonnaise, a tartare, and two more, one using harissa and the other sriracha.
Saltfish croquettes come to the table piping hot, crispy-coated and rammed with fish that marry perfectly with the earlier mentioned cool and creamy citrus mayonnaise.
“That is a mother of a scallop!” exclaims my companion and we have one each, which is all you need. They are baked just so and come on a bed of romesco sauce, topped with a garlic and parsley crumb. This is a perfect example of the innovation and bold flavours and techniques Chef Mack is introducing this season.
A razor clam is given a Spanish twist, taken from its shell, combined with butter beans and chorizo, and popped back in with a warm and hearty result.
Risotto is made with another combination of seafood and cured meat so from the specials, we tried a lobster and pancetta risotto. A light plate, the rice is fluffier than a more traditional risotto and combines that subtle flavour of lobster with salty pancetta and a fruity pop from roasted tomatoes.
A second bucket comes stuffed with soft shell crab and the most incredible baby corn, soft, yet crispy, sweet yet savoury – we couldn’t quite work out what Chef Mack had done to it, but we approve.
Finally, something from the grill – a catch of the day special: whole lemon sole which sits beneath satisfyingly salty samphire and brown shrimp, its moist white flesh accompanied by a glossy, buttery hollandaise.
What you will experience at Bucket is a vast array of seafood options with more innovative and complex flavours than you might typically expect, a warm welcome and excellent service from knowledgeable staff all in gorgeous surroundings.
To discover more, visit: bucketrestaurant.com
By Suzanne Whitlock