Friday 12pm - 3pm
Sunday 1pm - 5pm
Monday to Sunday 5pm – 11pm
Bar opens until late
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory - what an evocative title for an event! Straight away we are envisaging all sorts of 'Heston-esque' delights and surprises. We're expecting playful; we're expecting a 'world of imagination!'
Upon entry of Ms G's we see a variety of tables with lollies and toy windmills which is cute. It probably is a clue however to the fact that we have set our sights a tad high. We expected a variety of handmade sweets, sherbets etc rather than just regular shop bought lollies. Setting this aside, we nervously await the onslaught of sweets.
We start off with the Russian Spider. Who doesn't love a spider? Kahlua, Vodka, Icecream then topped with Coca Cola - beaut!
Following this we are presented with Red & Blue Splice. This certainly does defy expectations as the lurid colours do not attest to how fresh, and somewhat subtle, this dish is. Coconut sorbet is red, Pineapple Granita is blue and mixed amongst it are jewels of lychee gel cubes. It is a good start.
Next up - Chocolate and Raspberry Willy Wonka! Chocolate brownie, raspberry marshmallow, chocolate chantilly, some pop rocks and raspberry coulis. Yep - we know that Chocolate and Raspberry go. Yep - the brownie is nice, the chocolate chantilly is nice (especially with the salt), the pop rocks give a zing and the sauce is nice. But we didn't come here for nice! We are feeling a little let down.
The Augustus Gloop with Chocolate River has all sorts of wild images floating in our mind and what is presented starts to come close to some of the imagination we had expected. Candied bacon with pretzels, blackberries, brownie pieces and a chocolate river. The candied bacon is phenomenal! Really phenomenal. The pretzels work well with it. The fruit also goes well with these elements. The brownie is a let down.... why repeat an element from a previous dish? The chocolate river is anaemic and adds absolutely nothing positive in terms of flavour. We have no problems whatsoever with unusual combinations - in fact we look forward to them when they work - this one doesn't.
Golden Egg 2012 - what could it be? Well, it is an icecream (subtly flavoured with caramel?) atop quite a delicious and tangy lime curd with an inordinate amount of crunchy honeycomb strewn across it all. Once again... while the curd is fantastic, the dish as a whole, and the flavours as one complete mouthful, just don't work for us.
Feeling a little deflated we await "Dirt". "Dirt" is chopped up lollies with the chocolate chantilly from an earlier dish with crushed chocolatey crumbs and toasted coconut on top. The crumbs are good, and a welcome reprieve from the sweetness. But the underneath is uninspiring.
The sweetness overload is not a problem - it is to be expected from such an event. What we hadn't counted on was the seeming lack of inspiration, imagination or real fun in the food. It feels a little like the event was done because it had to be - not because of any real desire.
Based on some of the posts done in the past of the Charlie and the Chocolate factory event which we have since read, it does seem like this year's event lacked some of the inspiration that went into past ones.
Nothing we had was bad, or poorly executed. It just seemed lazily conceived and we are left underwhelmed.