Some while back, Damson announced that it was going to close temporarily around now, to reopen with an unspecified “new concept”. Whatever that is, has now been postponed for several months. Since we were last here, around the same time last year, there have been changes. The restaurant is now divided into two, with half operating as a separate tapas bar. And, in Damson, the food had been pared back so that the carte has gone, to be replaced by a short set menu offering two courses for £20 or £25 for three. I’m not convinced this is progress.
There are five choices at starter and main course. There was pasta in creamy sauce, flecked with Wiltshire black truffle and topped with a little rabbit. It’s light and savoury. Cheese and onion scones were a bit unusual to see on the plate, not least as they came paired with roasted cauliflower, hazelnuts and a touch of chilli, but it all worked reasonably well
For mains, there was a long cooked braise of local beef, good chips (substituted for the advertised mash) and carrots. Certainly nothing fancy here but a generous portion of food that just seemed right for a chilly January evening. A veggie shepherds pie was less of a success. You’d hope this would be a thick concoction of veg and lentils but it was overly wet and underflavoured, topped simply with mash. A little dish of pickled red cabbage did add some piquancy. I took a side dish of mixed greens – cabbage, tenderstem broccoli and green beans – in truth, it was the best thing I ate in both courses.
I have to hope that whatever the “new concept” is proves to be a better bet than this – and I’ll be happy to pay more for it.