In our new interview series with Hallgarten & Novum Wines, each month a Trencherman’s chef takes us behind the scenes of their life in food and wine. First to pop the cork is Scott Paton of Àclèaf in Plymouth
How would you describe your style of cooking?
Our motto at Àclèaf is ‘truth with elegance’ and that encapsulates our style. We work with exceptional ingredients, treat them sympathetically and serve them with as much decadence and elegance as possible.
What role does wine play in the dining experience?
Every time we create a new dish the senior members of the Àclèaf team will sit down and taste a range of wines alongside it. Every dish on the menu has its own handpicked pairing, and it’s something we’re very passionate about.
What’s your most memorable dining experience?
Probably my trip to Midsummer House in Cambridge a few years ago. I can’t pinpoint what made it so special, it was just a really good tasting menu of simple, honestly cooked food.
A particular highlight was the Champagne trolley which was wheeled to each table. Five varieties of Bollinger magically appeared from the depths of the trolley – it was an extremely memorable start to the meal.
How much do you think about wine when creating a dish?
During the early stages of the creation of a dish I’ll be thinking about which wines would pair well with it. If, for example, I know a dish is going to need a touch more acidity, I can draw on that in the wine pairing.
Considering the wine is particularly important in winter as that is when we use richer ingredients which lend themselves to heavier wines. I don’t want to start the wine flight with a bold and dramatic red, so I’ll be thinking about which seasonal ingredients will complement lighter wines at the start of a meal.
What’s your vision for 2021?
We only launched the new restaurant three months before the first lockdown, so we’ve only been open for six months out of ten. There are lots of things we’d like to achieve, however, the focus will remain on creating exceptional, memorable dining experiences.
Which drinks trends are you seeing?
Our wine flight is extremely popular and our guests trust our suggestions. We‘ve recently increased the amount of English wines on the list and we’ve had great feedback on those – it’s lovely to feel we’ve helped our guests discover something new and special.
Hallgarten & Novum specialise in sourcing premium wines, what would you pick as your desert island bottle?
I’d have to choose Hubert Lamy 2002 – it’s a really creamy, balanced wine that’s perfect for my taste. I don’t drink much white wine as it’s often too acidic for me, but if I do it has to be a white Burgundy.
Find out more about Hallgarten & Novum here.