J is for…Japan.
We visited Gloucester's Tiger's Eye restaurant, based within the historic Old Bell pub (pictured).
With beech floors and Eastern furnishings, the Tiger's Eye has a very modern feel. Instinct tells you that this shouldn't work inside a 15th Century building. However, the stark contrast with the ancient timbers of the rest of the pub works wonderfully.
To be honest, I was feeling apprehensive about this cuisine. I don't eat fish and knowing that this is a major part of the Japanese diet, I had visions of staring at the menu for hours only to end up ordering a bowl of rice!
However, I was pleased to find that there were vegetarian options available and Wills and I picked three dishes to try between us – vegetarian tempura, asparagus and sesame maki and crab and mango gunkon.
For sushi novices, all sushi dishes contain vinegared rice. For maki dishes, the rice is rolled in seaweed (nori) with different fillings in the middle – for the dish we ordered this was asparagus.
As I bit into the first roll I was instantly hit by the sourness of the rice and a strong asparagus taste that seems to lace the whole dish. As a first time sushi eater I did find this quite a strange taste, very different to anything I have had before.
All the dishes were beautifully presented, so much so that you almost felt guilty tucking in to them. This, combined with the attentive service of the staff, makes a clear statement that the Tiger's Eye is seeking to give diners a quality experience. And from our experience they are succeeding in this.
It is a fusion restaurant and the menu selection does seem a little eclectic but this doesn't seem to have an adverse effect on the overall execution of the food. In addition to sushi they do a hot rocks menu where you can cook various meats your own volcanic rock. We've tried this before and would recommend it.
Our conclusion is that the Tiger's Eye is a quirky yet stylish addition to the Gloucester food scene.
Raines and Chris, of Denmark Road in Gloucester, are attempting to eat food from a nation starting with every letter of the alphabet.
To read more about their culinary journey, visit http://eatingthealphabet. wordpress.com/
Follow them on twitter at @EatingAlphabet