Jake Hardington is making his mark on the Plymouth coast, taking inspiration from social media but creating dishes in his own original style. Lisa Jenkins reports.
Jake Hardington is the head chef of Salumi Bar & Grill in Plymouth, a multi-level restaurant just a 10-minute walk from Plymouth Hoe. The 26-year-old trained at City College Plymouth and worked his way through a few pubs, cafés and restaurants before starting his career in what he calls a ‘proper' kitchen at Salumi in March 2017.
"Our food ethos here is simple: food cooked well, where flavour is king," says Hardington.
The chef has found his influences through working in restaurants with a strong British emphasis and is a keen champion of local ingredients. "Our cuttlefish is caught in the Plymouth Sound from Rex Down Fish Merchants. We love using this as most UK cuttlefish is usually shipped abroad, which is crazy!"
Salumi also use Forest Fungi for mushrooms such as girolles and chanterelles, and less common varieties such as Lion's Mane. Philip Warren is a regular supplier too, as is Flying Fish in Cornwall.
Hardington says he takes his inspiration for new dishes from a variety of sources. "It has never been easier to see what other chefs are doing with social media. Sometimes I see a technique or a cooking method that I haven't seen before and I adapt that to work for us.
"I am always scribbling down ideas and taking them to Dave [Jenkins, the owner of Salumi and the two-AA-rosette Rock Salt in Plymouth]. We have a genuine friendship that comes from our love of food, so we bounce off each other really well." Hardington also cites chef Tom Brown of east London's Cornerstone as an inspiration: "His approach to food is a huge influence on me – taking stunning ingredients and pairing them with simple garnishes that just complement the main element is what it is all about, in my opinion."
Menus at Salumi include sharing plates, such as charcuterie (£19) and cheese boards (£19), and a brunch offering with traditional favourites, such as smoked salmon, scrambled egg, sourdough and lemon (£8) alongside ‘market sandwiches', such as Coppa ham, Welsh rarebit, mushroom and pickle (£8).
The lunch menu features a small selection of dishes from the à la carte, all priced at £13, including Tribute-battered hake, garden peas, tartar sauce, fries (£14 on the à la carte) and Chiang mai pork curry, crackling, peanuts, jasmine rice and roti bread (£15.50 on the à la carte).
The à la carte, which is served from 5pm, offers dishes such as an aged Cornish lamb rump from Philip Warren Butchers, served with a crispy lamb breast croquette, a potato pavé made with mandolin-sliced Maris Pipers, a striking green butter and herb oil hollandaise with mint, dill, tarragon and a squeeze of lemon (£22). The current best-selling fish dish on the menu, and the chef's own personal favourite, is the stone bass with scallop ravioli, bisque and seaweed butter (£20).
A recent addition to the menu is a duck egg and Godminster tart (£17), which came from Hardington's desire to create a vegetarian dish that could compete with the meat- and fish-based mains. A Parmesan shortcrust tart is filled with a rich duck egg, Godminster Cheddar and truffle custard and baked until it has a ‘wobble'. Mandolin-sliced Jersey royal potatoes, cooked in a rapeseed and pomace oil blend with garlic, mint, thyme, and rosemary, join a celeriac rémoulade, capped with a thin potato crisp. The dish is finished with a dill emulsion, dried heritage tomato crisps, fennel fronds and a dusting of Parmesan.
"Originality is hard to come by these days, but I can stand proud and say this is an original dish," says Hardington. It seems that Hardington and his brigade are making waves down in Plymouth.
From the menu
● Pork, skate and peanuts, crackling, charred lime £9
● Black pudding scotch egg, caramelised apple £8
● Home-cured salmon, caviar, breaded mussels, soy, chilli £9
● Rare breed bacon chop, charred corn, pineapple relish £20
● Yaki udon, seaweed, soy, sesame, shiitake, kai lan, udon noodles £14
● Dark chocolate tart, peanut praline, Cornish sea salt, milk ice-cream £7.50
● Strawberry trifle, pistachio, honey cream £7.50
Salumi Bar and Eatery, 18 Millbay Road, Plymouth, Devon PL1 3LH
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