First lunch out post lockdown/shielding. Other half’s birthday. Michelin starred pub en route (kind of ) to Lakes for the weekend.
First impressions - subtle, restau but still a pub vibe- no one wearing masks neither staff nor any customers. Disconcerting at first but soon feels safe. Easy to forget covid ever happened/is happening still.
Its a set lunch - 45 quid a head. No choices save that they offer us the option of buying mash ( 5 quid a portion ) as a side to go with our main course. They tell us we will only need one between us ( in which case why charge us more- 2.50 each ? are margins really that tight ? perhaps they are ) so we order one. More of the mash later.
We start with some bread and butter. With chicken liver parfait sprinkled with a kind of foie gras crumb. Very moreish indeed. Could have scoffed more bread but that’s perhaps because I’m greedy.
Next up was a tomato consommé with dill oil which I had very faint hopes for having been seriously underwhelmed by something similar at Northcote a few years ago…but which was just wonderful. Light, flavourful and just right in every respect.
Best course was next - mackerel fillet, scallop, yuzu and cucumber. Lick the plate good.
At this point I was raving to my other half about how good the place was…
Then came the main of seabass, with watercress & hollandaise. A fair old portion of the hollandaise…
At which point enter stage left the mash.
Quite a creamy/ buttery mash. To go with a hollandaise and fish.
Mash served in a bowl ( not quite the rammekin I had once had mash in at the The Oxo Tower which remains my most heinous food rip off ever ).
Fish served in a bowl.
Mash meet fish.
In a bowl.
And it was all lovely but just ended up seeming a bit, well, sloppy.
Scumbags that we are we whispered that it was crying out for a chip rather than mash . Even a chunky chip, John.
Just something with a crunch rather than mush. We started talking about textures but felt a bit Master Chef about doing that so cut it out. Nevertheless a disappointment, and charged extra for it. Would have enjoyed the course more without it, but hey ho.
Puddings next and my second favourite course of the day. Honey two ways -one a cream at room temperature and one an ice cream, ginger and toffee. Nice crunchy tuille biscuit. Lovely interplay of honey and ginger. Tiny portion eked out a looong time to maximise pleasure.
Final course was a tiramisu. A deconstructed one.
Gah. That aint tiramisu at all. Its some tiramisu elements in a bowl. Admittedly the chocolatey bit of it was lovely, but I wasn’t wowed.
Other half ordered mint tea ( lovely and fresh leaves ) and we were given a couple of hand made chocolates to go with. Very nice but not life changing.
Service was great up until this point…at which point it was kind of lost. Ended up having to go to the bar and ask to pay. No one asked if we’d enjoyed it - do they just presume we did ? No one said ‘bye’ or ‘thanks for coming’ . So left feeling a bit abandoned, which was odd because we’d really enjoyed the majority of the food and would consider going back as its only an hour from home.
Did they overhear our chip chat ?
Were they upset that the pudding plate they wrote Happy birthday on in chocolate was given to me and not my other half ( Emlyn being often mistaken for a girls name up here ) and so I had to pass it to her ?
Was it something we said or didn’t say ?
Or was it just me expecting too much on my first trip out ?
Mixed ( or should that be mashed ? ) blessings, either way