[Weymouth, Dorset] Hall's Kitchen

It was more luck than anything else that brought us to this small bistro in the centre of town. Originally, we had a reservation elsewhere but they decided to mess us about, so we cancelled. Some Googling found us Hall’s Kitchen and we went with no great expectations. It proved to be a definite find – one of the better meals of our week’s stay in the area, which is not well endowed with “good” restaurants.

I started with a fig and goats cheese “salad”. Many restaurants have a goats cheese starter and most of them serve a bland, boring cheese. Not here. This one is oozy, creamy and packing a real flavour punch. The fig is a sweet contrast and there’s ribbons of raw courgette for crunch. No complaints from me. I followed that with a simply roasted chicken breast – crisp skin, moist meat, just as it should be. It came with a fondant potato, roast shallot and a lovely mushroom sauce. I also ordered a side of steamed vegetables – carrots, green beans, corn and tenderstem broccoli. Nice, albeit not really necessary.

My companion in life enjoyed a crab soup to start. Local crab, mind you, landed just down the road in Portland. The seafood is enhancing a tomato based bisque and, for even more flavour, there’s a large cheese crouton in the bowl. That was followed by somewhat of an odd choice, that of a rice, peppers, roast garlic and artichoke salad. Yes, it already sounds a bit of a weird main course, even for a veggie choice, and so it proved. Not least as there were no peppers or cloves of garlic. So, there’s rice, served hot, and artichokes, served cold. And assorted salad stuff, including cherry tomatoes and courgette ribbons. Even weirder, there’s raspberries and blackberries. And, no, the fruit doesn’t really enhance the plate. But there’s also slices of sushi ginger – unusual on an otherwise European plate but it did give everything a zing.

Desserts proved to be OK but, in truth, no better than OK. For one of us, a peach had been halved and roasted along with lemon thyme. It’s served with cream. And, for the other, a quince tarte tatin which would have been more successful if the pastry had been properly crisp. It comes with a sorbet – blood orange on the menu but they had run out so substituted with a raspberry one.

Espresso was good, if lukewarm. Service had been friendly and on the ball. If we were locals I suspect we’d be regulars.