SUCCESS breeds success goes the adage, and this has become clearly evident since The Palmichael in Burton Latimer won the Restaurant of the Year award at the 2016/17 Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards.
It was a fitting accolade for Vincenzo Palmiero, who established the restaurant in 1981 and, together with his family, has worked tirelessly to build it into the thriving and award-winning business it is today.
Following an extensive refurbishment in 2006, The Palmichael has been managed by Vincenzo’s son Michael and his daughter Maria, but he still takes a keen interest in the business as was witnessed on our recent visit. With Michael on holiday, Vincenzo was back on familiar territory in the kitchen cooking mouthwatering dishes for another virtually full house of Friday night diners.
The 2006 refurbishment created a chic, modern eaterie, and this was enhanced in March of this year when new flooring was laid, a new front door fitted and other decoration work was carried out in a mini-makeover.
Michael has inherited his passion for cooking from his father and gained experience in the Mediterranean as a private chef and in various quality hotels around the country. At The Palmichael, he works with his team to achieve the highest standard of Italian cuisine and develop new dishes, with ingredients sourced from Italian artisan producers and selected local suppliers of fresh food and drink, with the result being that diners are getting the best of both worlds – stylish authentic Italian cuisine with a modern twist, served by a smartly dressed waiting team, in pleasant, comfy surroundings.
On arrival at the restaurant, which has an impressive frontage on Kettering Road in Burton Latimer, Maria furnished us with glasses of wine and invited us to study the menu on comfortable leather sofas in the small lounge bar area.
We could see the dining room was already filling up with parties eight, six and four-strong to provide busy atmosphere in the restaurant.
The a la carte menu features antipasti, sharing plates (for two or more), Le Paste e Riscotti, secondi piatti, carne (roasts and grills), Palmichael Classico and sides, so some serious consideration and deliberation was required on our part.
As is often the case, I was torn between three of the antipasti choices – Crocchette di Salmone (home made salmon and smoked haddock fishcakes with lime and caper mayonnaise), Zuppa della Casa (home made soup of the day) and Fegato di Vitello (seared calf’s liver cooked pink, sautéed oyster mushrooms, pancetta and red wine jus) – with the calf’s liver dish getting the verdict by a narrow margin. To follow I selected Branzino ai Ferri (pan fried fillet of line-caught sea bass, pea puree and scallop cream sauce accompanied by seasonal vegetables and sauteed potatoes.
Anita chose Funghi all Forne (baked Portobello mushroom, caramelised onion confit and Golden Cross goat’s cheese) to start with followed by Fettuccine di Mare (fettucine, tiger prawns, calamari and langoustines with garlic, chilli and cream sauce).
After being shown to our table, we were served with complimentary warm ciabatta with eight-year aged balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil together with marinated Sicilian olives ahead of the arrival of our antipasti dishes.
My liver dish was cooked to perfection and the mushrooms, pancetta and red wine jus were ideal accompaniments, while the Funghi alla Forno was also well received.
Presentation is a key element of any meal, and The Palmichael gets top marks in this department. Both our main course dishes were attractively presented and we quickly discovered they were expertly cooked and both absolutely delicious, with not a morsel left on either plate.
Then another decision had to be made – desserts – all of which are made in the kitchen on a daily basis as are all the sauces - and tempting though the selection was, neither of us felt we could to justice to any of the choices and settled for a coffee each.
The restaurant makes the best use of seasonal produce and uses its home-grown fresh herbs, zucchini, wild strawberries, raspberries and fresh figs when in season from the kitchen garden.
It is easy to see why The Palmichael won the Restaurant of the Year award and the Palmiero family have certainly not rested on their laurels. In fact, on the evidence of our visit it would appear that they have gone from strength to strength.