Tag Archives: Food

Rosemarino – Clifton – Bristol – Restaurant Review

This is a small restaurant located off from the busy “Triangle” situated on the corner of “York Street”.  This is a recently opened Italian theme establishment and on my day of visit had only been open for less than 48 hours.  The restaurant is open for breakfast until dinner and serves all meal times between including brunch and the owners are trying to push an Italian habit of drinks/coffee and a snack/cakes between 5-6pm after finishing work (Just because us English already dont eat enough!!).

The restaurant inside is very nicely decorated to a modern feel, with bright colours throughout and is very bright upstairs due to the large windows.  Downstairs there is a mix of industrial styles with 1 entire wall being unfinished concrete with a few frames hung on the wall with chalk wrote specials wrote directly on the wall.  The floor again is bright with beach wood paneling used and light pale blue colours throughout.  The tables are very cleanly decorated with no table clothes used, exposing the light beach wood, with small and neat folded napkins placed and individual flowers placed in the centre in small metal buckets.

We were eating for Lunch at this time and at 1:30pm the restaurant was already packed with only 1 spare table.  Upon being seated our drinks order were quickly taken and we were handed menu’s which are printed on A4 paper, which as this restaurant is pushing local/seasonal produce im assuming this makes for changing the menu’s daily/seasonally much easier.  The menu consists of traditional Italian favorites such as lasagna and a large Antipasti selection, also there are various sandwiches/bruschetta with different toppings they also offer the ability to customise this selection with any extra toppings.

I decided to go with a small Lasagna Al Forno, after eyeing the Tiramisu or Bread and Butter pudding for dessert.  After placing the order the food took approx 20-25mins to be served, however this was at an extremely busy time so normally I would expect the wait to be abit shorter, also you need to expect a small wait due to fresh food prepared etc.

Lasagna Al Forno – This was served in a lovely rustic looking style and looked lovely to the eye, with the fresh salad adding great colour to the dish.  The lasagna it self was obviously home made as the flavour was brilliant, with good hints of garlic and cheese throughout.  Between the sheets of perfectly cooked pasta their consisted large pieces of meat which is normally what is missing from lasagna I find.  There was also the white cheese sauce which was not overpowering to the dish and was not provided in a large quantity allowing the tomato and meat flavours to come through, the cheese on top added a nice crunch also.  The salad was excellent with the crisp salad leaves, and strips of carrot added good crunch to the dish, there was a dressing also which had a strong taste of garlic and was an excellent marriage to the salad.  The bread provided was your standard baguette style, but was good and fresh. This was a very good dish with good flavours and for £3.95 I couldn’t believe the value.  My only minor complaint being is that I think it could have been served slightly hotter, it was hot but normally I would like to see it still very hot and cheese slightly bubbling.

Chocolate Panetone bread & butter pudding with vanilla ice cream – Being a big fan of traditional English puddings I was interested to see how the Panetone would work in this pudding.  My first bite was of the crisp outer edge and immediately I was surprised by the sweetness the Panteone bread provided and also the abundance of fruit within the bread, this was all sorts of dry fruit and rind. The pudding was excellently cooked with the outer edges being firmer and having a slight crust, but the middle being extremely gooey and the custard being only just set.  This was served just warm which was excellent as it allowed the ice cream just to slightly melt, the ice cream again was beautiful being packed full of vanilla seeds and had a strong flavour and was a lovely accompaniment.  Normally I would have liked to have custard with this pudding but with the use of the Panetone bread this was not required and the pudding was sweet enough.

Value – The value was incredible with the total meal came to £10 with tip, and I really cant complain at this cost.  The lasagne was a particular great value dish at only £3.95 I would return for this everyday if I could.

Service – The service was excellent with the different waiters being extremely polite and good with taking orders etc.  The waiter who took over our table towards the end of our lunch however needs a particular mention, he was extremely chatty and had a great attitude towards the customer and provided great light humour to the service.

Overall – 9/10

This is an excellent small up and coming establishment, and if they can keep standards at what they are at the moment I can see this place going from strength to strength.  They offer excellent fresh food and from my experience very good service with a laugh/chat provided as well.

Cant wait to return to try their dinner menu.

 

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Jack In the Green – Exeter – Restaurant Review

Having read in the recent “Good Food Guide 2011” about the this small pub/restaurant I was eager to pay a visit.  At first glance the online sample menu is a mix of Modern English with some Gastro-Pub elements, they also have a “Bar Menu” which is the old traditional pub fare.  This restaurant again is going with the local produce approach and shows alot of willingness to use the most seasonal produce with a changing menu etc.  The establishment in recent years are really moving up the ladder in terms of food, with various awards being awarded and the most recent change, being moved from 80th place to 52nd place in the top 100UK restaurants.  The chefs individually also won various awards with chef “Matthew Downing” being awarded “South West Chef of the Year”.

Also within recent months they have added a Tasting Menu, I believe this shows the amount of effort these chefs are showing, in a attempt to move up the ladder of restaurants and really make this a well known place.

Here is an example of the tasting menu taking from November 2010.

Tasting Menu

Appetiser
*****
Confit Duck Leg, Spiced Plum Chutney and Smoked Duck Salad
*****
Shellfish Bisque
*****
Saddle of Venison with Slow Braised Shoulder, Smoked Bacon
Risotto, White Onion Puree, Chicory Jam and Liquorice
*****
A plate of our favourite regional Cheeses
*****
Jasmine and Green Tea Delice with Pistachio and Lime
*****
Coffee and Petit Fours
*****
£39.50 per person

The restaurant is located on the outskirts of Exeter and is very convenient for travelers using the M5, as it is only 5minutes from the main Exeter turn off.  It is not in a built up area and is placed in a green belt of lovely fields, guessing this is where the “in the Green” comes from in the name.  From the external the building is what you would expect for any traditional country pub, with large signs and good located lighting.

Upon entering you immediately walk into the pub/bar area, where a member of staff who is behind the bar greets you and shows you to available seats within the bar area.  Drink orders are then taken and menus provided, this is a welcoming area to sit and relax while browsing through the menu with a good atmosphere.

Usually if a tasting menu is offered this is the direction I would always go, however looking through the menu I noticed “Sticky Toffee Pudding” from the A la Carte.  Immediately I had my mind made up that I would be sampled this dish no matter what, so the tasting menu was moved to one side for the A la Carte.  They offer a “Totally Devon” deal at the moment where they have highlighted items within the menu which if you combine these they form a deal of £25.00, unfortunately my main/dessert selections this evening were not on this offer.

Within a few minutes our waitress returned and took our orders for the meal, she was extremely polite and well mannered, also when ordering our main she did well to enquire how we were happy with the meat cooked.  After another 10minutes we were then invited into the main dining area, which is through some narrow passages and is decorated in much of the same way, with photos dotted around the walls and tables spaced well apart, but not to far apart to make a lacking of atmosphere.

The bread and butter was already awaiting on the table.  Bread on offer was standard white roll slices, with similar wholemeal granary slices, these were both good with excellent texture but nothing really jumped out to the flavour.  Butter on offer was extremely thick and creamy and cooled to a good room texture.

An Amuse Bouche was then served of “Chicken in a Thai Broth”, this was presented well with the chicken being on a small cocktail skewer.  The chicken was moist and succulent and just fell apart when bitten into, the broth was also extremely flavoursome with excellent oriental flavours and abit of chilli kick on the back of the throat.

The starter was then served of “Confit Duck Leg, Spiced Plum Chutney and Smoked Duck Salad”, however when presented with the dish I was rather surprised and had to even re-read the wording of the menu.  The “Confit Duck Leg” was more of a terrine which had been wrapped in thin bacon/Parma ham, and had an extremely strong and good flavour, however this was not what I was expecting and was confused not to see crisp confit leg.  Also the “Smoked Duck Salad” element was thinly sliced duck breast which lay beneath the terrine with the salad being your standard micro-leafs placed on the side.  The final element being the “Spiced Plum Chutney” again was very small dots placed around the plate.  Overall I was left quite disappointed with the dish, not because of the lack in flavours from the duck as this was strong on both accounts, I found myself disappointed due to the chutney being more of a thin sauce and dotted around making it almost impossible to get any flavour.  If the chutney was served in a side pot to allow a good quantity to be used I think this could be a very pleasing dish.

The main of “Kenniford Farm Pork ‘Three Ways’” was then served, this was presented very well and looked pleasing to the eye with vegetables served in a side dish.  The first style of Pork served was a croquette, which I am assumed Ham Hock however unfortunately the waitress did not know, this had a brilliant flavour with a good crisp breadcrumb outer coating.  The second cut was a pork loin which was served pink and again was extremely tasty, and very tender to cut.  The final cut was the belly pork, which was the biggest disappointment as the fat was not rendered down enough, and was left soft and rubbery with what should be a crackling topping, this was not a good taste at all with the abundance of still white/un-rendered fat.  Unfortunately the sauce provided placed beneath the loin, was a thin apple sauce, again this was only provided in the smallest of volume and this would have been nice to have more to get the true pork/apple flavour as the dish did seem to lack some sweetness.  The mix vegetables provided were extremely well cooked with a good bite to them, and a good mix provided.  Overall I was left disappointed with the dish mainly due to the belly pork, however I found the croquette extremely good.

Dessert was then served of “Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch sauce and Clotted Cream “ I was immediately shocked by the size of dish, however this was not a disappointment as a large smile drew across my face.  The sponge it self was lovely and dense, but without being too stodgy/clingy within the mouth and had a lightness about it, it was well formed and fully packed with lovely sweet and chewy dates.  The butterscotch sauce may be one of the best I have ever tasted, it was not thin and could easily coat the back of a spoon, with the deep butterscotch smells/flavours radiating throughout.  The large thick scoop of clotted cream also was brilliant, and had just started to melt and ooze down the side of the pudding when served.

Coffee and Petit Fours were then served, my black coffee was deep and strong with a great flavour.  The Petit Fours of Turkish delight, Ice Cream Coconut Chocolate, Vanilla Fudge and Strawberry Macaroon were all very good with the Macaroon being light as a feather and a small piece of strawberry jam/jelly placed in the centre.

Service was very good for the entire evening with the meals being served with a good amount of time between, and also plates cleared accordingly.  The staff were all very polite and worked well and not once did I a single one stop to chat to one another etc.  A very welcoming addition as well which is rare to see in these times is a large jug of tap water already placed on the table without request.

The total cost of the meal came to £69.58, which I believe to be slightly higher than what I would have liked to paid considering the above thoughts.

Overall – 6/10

I was slightly shocked to see at the end of the evening quite a low score on the bottom of my pad, as I had expecting this establish to score highly.  I think due to the disappointment with the wording of the starter, which led my immediate disappointment when presented with it.  Then followed by the main course which was also a slight let down with the pork being not cooked with a good crisp topping etc and the lack of flavour coming from the sauce etc.  The highlight of the meal was dessert with a very well done pudding.

I expected abit more from such a fast rising restaurant within the UK restaurant scene, with maybe just abit of “Wow” factor needed.  I left the restaurant feeling full but underwhelmed, I would return however I will wait until a new season menu is produced to see if the worded is slightly more detailed.

Pizza Cafe – Newton Abbot – Devon – Review

Having read about “Pizza Cafe” based in Newton Abbot (Devon) several times, throughout many different local food providers, it has been a place that has been on my list to review for a while.

Any establishment I feel that cares and takes pride in the fact, that it goes that little bit extra and shows willingness to find and source the most local produce it can, is a great way to show what a quality establishment it is.  On the Pizza Cafe website it is full of mentions of different suppliers from where they source Dairy to where their smoked salmon is sort from.

The pizza cafe does not seem like your regular local pizza eatery, from there website they pride them selves on quality, and take pride in that they are a family business, which also sponsor many different charities/appeals such as the “Helen Foundation”.  The restaurant is located on the main street of Newton Abbot, but luckily in the part which has parking local to it, and even directly outside.  The building is painted in not the brightest of colours, however the pizza cafe logo is enough to make it standout.

Upon entering the establishment you are presented with a light and airy dining area, with nice wooden tables and laid out well.  We were greeted by a young waitress, who showed us to a table.  The waitresses here are all quite young and dressed in smart black shirts and trousers, and are well suited to the restaurant.  Upon being seated we were then shown the menus and drinks were ordered.

Looking through the menu, I was immediately surprised at the size and some of the dishes here.  Most of the normal pizza place fare is on offer, however some very different things such as “Prawn and Crayfish Salad”, “Peking Duck Wrap” and “Moroccan Tagine”, there are many different elements of the menu with Jacket Potatoes, Pasta, Wraps, Tex Mex, Salad and a host of different starters and then on top of this the Pizza selection, it really is a vast menu.

Having scanned through we decided to go for a starter of “The Pizza Cafe Combo”, followed by a “Big Trouble in Little China – Snack Pizza – Plum Sauce, peking duck, spring onions and pineapple” and a “Porky’s – Sanck Pizza – Westcountry pineapple and onion chutney, slow roasted westcountry pork, caramelised onions, crispy bacon, chorizo and fire roasted yellow peppers” with the idea on splitting each pizza and sharing.  My choice immediately was the “Porky” having such local produce on offer, and from the wording on the menu they make the pizza sound like a work of art.  With my mouth water just at the thought of what was to come.

They offer 3 different sizes here 7” (Snack), 9” Regular, 12” Large.  These sizes are good however it would be good to have a size board on the wall somewhere, just to give customers an idea of size of what they are ordering.  Being an engineer by day I had a good idea of the size and 7” seemed good, however the table next to us at the time ordered regulars each and half of these were taken away in pizza boxes.  However this is a good time to note that you are allowed and encouraged by staff to take home doggy bags etc, this should be shown more willingness to do in restaurants and is a good thing.

The restaurant at the time of entering was quite empty with only 3 tables taken, however by the time our food arrived, within about 15minutes the restaurant was now full with the exception of around 4 tables, which is impressive for a Monday night.  This shows the popularity of the place.

The first dish arrived, which we immediately divided between us and ill break the dish down here.  The chicken wings, were beautifully cooked and spiced well with a small after taste of heat, the chicken was really succulent and tasty.  The Criss Cross fries, had a great flavour and had a small hint of cheese, they were not crispy however had some small pieces which the taste was amazing (Crispy Bits).  Onion Rings, these were pretty standard and im not sure if 100% fresh but again your standard fare on this one, but good non the less.  The only real let down of dish for me was the potato skins which were just as describe, skins with about 4mm of potato, and nothing else as the menu stated, however I feel a small bit of melted cheese of maybe abit of tomato added would give these the edge.  My sharing partner however thought they were perfect and just used alot of dip. The dips added well to the whole event with the BBQ being sweet and not a spicy sauce by any means, however good flavour and quite a musky aftertaste.  The Garlic Mayo, was great and really thick, not watery and had a strong garlic taste, needless to say I quickly stole this pot to myself.

Now onto the Pizza’s

“Big Trouble in Little China”

The pizza arrived and I was very pleased we ordered the 7” versions.  Immediately I was impressed how the pizza based was nice and thick around the edges, but surprisingly the centre of the disk was incredibly thin and had a good crisp bottom.  The filling was certainly PACKED full, and the plum sauce was very sweet and not the traditional chinese, however it worked very well with the base.  The duck was incredible, and if I didnt know better this was from a chinese shop somewhere, the skin was so crisp and crunched in the mouth.  The spring onions had a good slight crisp, and the pineapple added a good sweet element but all this was all brought down to earth with the good base and deep taste of chinese duck.

(Camera decided to Corrupt this, Will get on next visit and update).

“Porky”

Now first I have to try and just describe the smell form this, it was a cross of amazingly crisp pork, mixed with the sweet smell of sugar coated onions and sweet cooked pineapple.  Again the base was well risen around the edges and had even more filling on top than the previous, with the base coated with what must be spoons full of chutney.  The chutney which was incredibly sweet and moorish was the star of the pizza, and I will certainly be asking them for where they source this from in Devon as it was AMAZING!.  The chorizo added a new element to the pizza with a strong taste but mixed so well with the pork and cheese topping.  Overall I could describe very moist, succulent and crispy parts of different pork elements, but I am so far just making my Mouth Water again.  Overall this has to be one my top pizza’s ive had and has even taken the place of which once was the top of the list “Domino’s BBQ Texas pizza”, but this is the new favourite.  The locally sourced and quality of ingredients really did show on this, and I really cant describe how nice it was.

By the time I had eaten above I was needless to say stuffed, and just couldnt eat anymore if I wanted to.  I had my heart set on the amazing “Sin City – Folded sweet pizza with nutella and mascapone, served with vanilla and chocolate ice cream”, however I just couldnt and will need to save this for my next visit.

The service here on this evening was brilliant the waitresses are polite, charming and do their jobs well and dress for a small restaurant very well, and is where the restaurant shines with good personal service.

Overall – 8/10

This is the first meal in a while which has not been at a fine dining establishment, and for once it is a nice change to see a menu which has good hearty food without foams/mouses/foie Gras (Even though I love it so!).  This was a brilliant meal with some truly great local food, the service was great and shows what a good small establishment can do.

The bill came to a respectable £31.00 with drinks 2 Starters, 2 Snack pizzas and a Regular Pizza (Not mentioned about as was not allowed to sample these), this was without service and I payed £36.00 believing that this was very much deserved.

I will definitely be returning to this restaurant, and in a way im glad my camera decided to corrupt the photo as its a great excuse to return quickly.  The only criticism of the evening being the small disappointed with the potato skins but this is nothing to go on about and overall was a great dish.

Look forward to returning.

The New Angel ( Angélique ), Dartmouth – Restaurant Review (Update Jan 2011)

Update – January 2011 – The restaurant has now been fully re-opened under the new name of “Angelique”.  When I visited in October this was under the new management/head chef of the “8 in 10 Group” and under its “Soft Launch”.  Due to this I have updated the name in the title to reflect the visit, as of the time of dining it was under the new management/chefs and still applies.

Well after not hearing about the well known chef “John Burton Race” leaving his pet restaurant “The New Angel” located in Dartmouth to concentrate on his TV career. I was surprised when logging on to the restaurants website to find that it had now been closed for some time and had now re-opened under the “10 in 8 Group”, it had also a title of “Michelin dining on a budget” with a tasting menu of 7 courses for £49, having seen the online sample menu I was impressed and decided to book a table.

Having booked the table for 7pm and running slightly early I decided to enter at around 6:50pm, the front of the restaurant is very open with large clear windows for outsiders and diners to get a clear view of everything. When entering we (mother and me… Note must find foodie friends) were greeted by the head of front house, who was smartly dressed and seemed pleasant and was a rarity to find someone English of Origen, as front of house considering the style of restaurant. With our coats taken we were shown to our table and drinks order immediately taken. The front of house proceeded to give us the set tasting menus and having already asked for this over the phone previously he knew this is what I wanted. However out of curiosity I enquired about the “a la carte” menu, to this I was fed a large speech. The speech basically explained how the taster menu is the only current menu and if you did want it you must choose 3 courses from it, this is because when the restaurant opened they struggled with the different  menus so have gone down this route for now. I’ll leave people to make their own views of this, as personally I think a restaurant should offer more than desert etc.

An amuse Bouche of crisp whitebait and a salsa-Verdi was then served, this was a nice light bite, with the crisp fish having a good fresh taste. However the salsa-Verdi was very underpowered with little flavour even when sampled solo.

Half way through sampling the above dish, butter was also presented on the table. At this point I’ll point out the main down fall of this restaurant which is the service but I’ll do a full report later below, but this is a small sample. I asked the foreign waiter who I believe was French from his accent if the butter was made “In House” or local? The response I got is as follows…. “(large laugh) the butter? Ofcourse not! (confused and slightly aggressive look on his face)”. Now I was slightly confused by this and not sure if he was just trying to be clever or not, so asked again where he then confirmed it Is not. More on service later.

With plates now removed, a bowl of warm home made bread was presented. This consisted on 2 White hard crusted rolls and 2 fennel flavored thick slices, the white bread was good to cut with a nice dry and crisp exterior, however the interior bread was undercooked with this being very chewy and having no bounce or spring to touch. The wholemeal slices however were very good with good aniseed flavours. I will refuse to comment on the butter here as for all I know this could be Lurpak, with some shards of sea salt scattered on top.

In between picking up my first roll our second amuse Bouche was placed before us of a “Wild Mushroom Foam”. This was very good and light with the entire cup being made of foam and not half with a pool of liquid on the bottom. This tasted exactly how it should, plain mushroom and nothing special here.

Crab salad, lemongrass jelly,Mango puree & tempura of soft shell crab.

Now from reading this I noticed that some strong flavours were on the plate only to be further surprised when presented with the dish that the crab was dressed with a wasabi dressing and also had a fennel salad. Firstly the plate did look great with the small dots all working well and adding colour. When tasting the dish however my happy thoughts of how it looked quickly disappeared, my initial worries were confirmed with the amount of flavours trying to fight each other was just too much. The fennel immediately overpowered the lemon grass jelly and the wasabi just destroyed the crab to the point it could have been any protein and I would have not known. However the individual flavours were good, but this was in essence a poorly designed dish. The tempura soft crab however was brilliantly crisp and strong flavoured.

Ballotine of smoke ham & foie gras, Butternut squash chutney & potato crisp.

This dish I was really looking forward to as anything with foie gras in I’m a big fan of being a particular favourite of mine, although when reading through the menu i was again slightly concerned with the marriage of flavours. Again these worries came true here, due to the ham being smoked the flavour was just so intense that if there was any foie gras the flavour could not be found which was a major disappointed. Overall the taste was pleasant, and If the menu had not stated frai gras I would have enjoyed this more, not having to look for that flavour.  The ham was strong flavoured and smokey with the mango provided the sweetness, the crisp potatoes provided a good texture and were required to add some crunch.

Pan fried scallop, Sag aloo & cauliflower carpaccio.

The dish smelled brilliant, and also was pleasing to the eye, i let a out a sigh of relief as when the waiter served this he did not add any additional elements of the dish except which was said on the menu.  The cauliflower carpaccio had a good crunch but not so much you knew the item was completely raw, and also had good flavour.  The Sag-Aloo was brilliant with the potatoes having a slight crunch, but the flavour was great and very intense.  The Scallop is one of the best i have sampled of recent, it was incredibly sweet and cooked excellent.  This was a simpler dish of what  have seen so far and was great to see and so far was the only memorable item.

For main course I choose Venison, and my Mother chose Sea Bass.

Roasted loin of venison, Spiced red cabbage, braised beetroot & peppercorn jus.

The main course of the 7 courses was then served, immediately I noticed how rare the meat was and luckily I am very happy with meat cooked in this manner, however some might not be but this was mentioned when ordering.  The Venison was cooked well and good and tender, however you just couldn’t find the flavour due to everything else on the plate, the spiced red cabbage below was something truly special with thoughts of Christmas coming to mind with the warm spices.  The beetroot was extremely good and worked well, with the starch elements and the various dots of beetroot puree were great, but why oh why….. the peppercorn jus was just not needed and just added another element again which confused and meddled with flavours and would have been better left off with a little extra beet root puree, noting the red cabbage added its own beautiful liquid texture.

Pan fried sea bass, confit fennel,Baby artichokes & liquorice sauce

My mum rated this a 6/10, she loved the liquorice taste but this was not that strong.  The fish was cooked brilliant with a great crisp skin but let down with the partnership of the vegetables.

Apple and Blackberry Compot, with White Chocolate Foam and Lime Crumble

The moose was extremely light and had an extremely mild taste so much you could hardly tell it was there, the crumble placed atop of this might as well been left off as this was practically tasteless and provided no addition to the dish. The major let down of this was the compot in the base which was so full of blackberry seeds and so chilled my mother asked “Is this just for looks or can you eat it”, after calming from that amusing comment, I proceeded to taste and it was true it was solid, the taste was there however it was just to chewy to eat and more like a large placement of seeds at the bottom.

Sticky Ginger Cake, Ginger Pannacotta & Carrot Sorbot

Safe to say this was the star of the meal, i have never eaten such a lovely sticky, moist and light cake before this night, it was brilliant with strong stem ginger shining through, only could be made better served slightly warm.  However the Ginger Pannacotta was no where to be seen, and was not worth mentioning on the menu.  The Carrot sorbet was good but i feel a more strong flavour to compliment the ginger would have worked better such as a good Clotted Cream ice cream or something else with very rich/deep flavour.

At this time coffee and petite fours were served, coffee priced at an extremely high cost of £4 each for a straight black coffee which I feel is extreme.  The petit fours were coconut ice which was very good and not to sweet and served chilled, the other was a Vanilla Fudge which was melt in the mouth and again very good.

Total Bill was £123.50, with 2No. tasting menus, 2No. Coffees, 1No. Water and a 12.5% discretionary service charge which if this was by choice I would have not paid, more on this below.

Overall – Im going to split this into food and service.

Food – 6/10.  The food here shows alot of promise and the presentation of the plate is certainly high up there with the best, however I get the feeling that everything is just trying very hard to impress with more and more flavours hitting the plate it just becomes too much.  I think the head chef needs to try and reign back his ingredients slightly and maybe try to have 1 dish on the tasting menu which he can experiment with.  The food was all well cooked and good quality but seemed just to not all merge together at all.

Service – 4/10.  Service here is where the restaurant completely fails, and here are some example of things experienced on this evening.

Waiters/Waitress – While not serving this would just be standing, and Hovering and staring waiting eagerly for your next move, it was just too much and not needed you felt almost rushed to finished to give them something to do.

Clearing of Plates – This is something we experienced on every course, we would put the last fork full in our mouth and while still chewing we placed our forks on our plates, by this time the waiter was there taking them so quickly, we could not even thank him because we still had our mouth’s full of food….. They need to slow up and take some time.  This is not a fast food restaurant and this is not needed.

Food Speed of Service – Due to the fact the head chef is based in the dining room he is constantly watching the diners and awaiting for the next dish, which then causes him to race it seems.  So you experience the speed of light clearing of plates, then by sooner than you have finished your mouth full, your next course is sat in front of you!.  This is demonstrated by the fact we finished the entire 7 course tasting menu with the various additional samples, in under 75minutes!!!, are they turning tables or something here? as the restaurant was only half full and not needed.

Due to the above do please make the service charge optional and not automatically added as its going to be questioned very soon.

Overall Score – 5/10.  Food quality good but needs work.  Service a complete failure.

I will try this restaurant again in a few months and maybe by then the service might have been sorted out.  I am also very curious to see if “The New Angel” can retain its Michelin star in the future as with that service I am doubtful.

La Petite Maison,Topsham (Exeter) – Devon

This is my third visit to this lovely little restaurant located in the small area of Topsham, being my third visit this review will be a combination of all my visits.  On first glance walking past this restaurant in the main busy street of Topsham you could easily mistake it for a large town house, very minimalist signs locate you to the main entrance.  Once inside you are immediately in the main dining area with a small corridor in front of you leading into the kitchen, and 2 small lounges to the left and right with tables and chairs.  The restaurant seats about a maximum of 26 and inside is cleanly decorated with white walls and small warm lighting placed throughout.  Tonight I am also dining with my family of Mother and Father.

You are greeted by front of house “Sara” who is brilliant and very welcoming, from there your coats are taken and you are shown to your table.  The tables are dressed in clean white clothes with nice silverware, and a small pot of green olives in the centre.  Once seated and drink orders taken, menus were handed out.  The menus are printed on standard A4 paper and are clean with around 4-5 selections for each course.  La Petite Maison only offer a set menu with the choice of 2 Courses @ £29,95 and 3 Courses @ £35.95, both come with bread to start and coffee/tea and petite fours.  I do like how this works as it makes the menu look clean with only 2 simple price schemes, and the cost conscious of us are pleased due to they can select any dish of their fancy without having to worry about the cost as its set.

The menus are printed on simple A4 paper due to the fact the menu changes every day and this is due to what produce comes in on that day, this is great and I admire restaurants who do this as it shows their ability to adapt and change with the seasons, and proves the chef cares about local produce.

On this occasion I was immediately drawn to the Seared Pigeon Breast with Bacon, Foie Gras on toasted bread.  Bread was then served on the table which comes in the form of a home made cheese straw, white hard crusted roll and a wholemeal soft roll.  This was served in a small basket and was 1 item each for each person.  The bread is well made and is all done in house, with the cheese draw being very light with a strong cheese flavour.  However the accompanying butter is a let down and does not have a strong taste at all, im not sure if this is home made or not.

Within only 20mins my starter was served, my initial impression was shock at the shear size of the Foie Gras, used to the very minute portions served at previous restaurants.  This had such an amazing taste and flavour its hard to pin point the exact reason for this, if it was the quality, cooking process or just the combination of the jus etc, the toast added a pleasurable difference in texture but this was unfortunately not crisp and had a slightly soggy bread element.  The Pigeon was well cooked and served rare, myself being a fan of meat being cooked like this, however I can see someone else could find this a problem, I did however find that this lacked a great deal of flavour, and really did need the added Foie Gras and bacon to really provide the flavour elements.  The small crisp salad was a needed light element to the powerful and heavy Fois Gras.

My main dish of Roast Duck Breast, Confit of Duck, dauphinoise potatoes, Apple and Summer Greens, arrived only moments later.  I requested my duck to be served Rare and this was perfectly presented as you can see from the photos, the whole dish was presented well.  The apples provided a nice sweet element to the duck and help cut through the fatty duck taste at times, although the duck was very lean by all accounts, however I would have liked the apple ever so slightly more cooked as a crunch was present.  The dauphinoise potatoes were good, but I found it lacked some cheese intensity although plenty of good buttery flavours exploded within the mouth. The confit of duck was brilliant with the crispy skin provided great flavour and the meat just falling from the bone.  The service at this time also needs to be mentioned with Sara in constant eyes views just asking if everything is ok and constantly topping up of drinks, but without her presence being to much.

My mother at this time at Fillet Steak with Sliced Potatoes, Summer Greens, with Caramilised Red Onion and Bacon.  This rated this 10/10 with the Steak being a perfect medium and the asparagus being lovely and still having a slight bite.

Now onto the favorite part of the meal…. Desserts.  Having chosen the Warm Apricot and Almond Tart with Mascarpone Ice Cream, I couldn’t wait to see this as it sounded wonderful.  15 minutes later the dessert arrived and I was not disappointed with a very good portioned size slice of tart, with a large spoon of the ice cream placed on top which at this point had just started to melt from the heat of the warm tart.  The accompanying apricot sauce was a great side and worked well.  The tart itself was very light with a good crisp base of pastry which was sweet but not over powering, the sponge was quite light with large whole and half apricots spread along the base, and a thin layer of preserve in there also.  The Ice Cream was great and a good rich taste to go with the light tart.

My Father had the Lemon Posset, he rated this 8/10, it was extremely light and not sour at all to the point where abit of tang could have been quite a good addition.  This was also a good size portion.

My Mother had the Plate of Rhubarb, the Crumble was great with a good crispy topping and a tartie rhubarb base to it.  The shot of Rhubarb to me was extremely tart and to much for me, however my mum being a love of all things Rhubarb was an immediate lover.  The great ginger ice cream mysteriously found half of its portion on my plate, now how did that happen?, this was great with whole pieces of crystalised ginger placed throughout.  9/10.

Coffee was then served and was good quality, with some home made chocolate truffles also being placed on the table.  These were deep, dark and rich and having just been removed from the fridge you only needed to touch them for the slightly moment to have a runny stream of chocolate pour down your hand.  Very good chocolates indeed.

Overall as mentioned before this was my third visit to La Petite Maison, and im going to give a score of –

9/10

The food is presented well with it not being to fancy or complicated, but still provided the visual shock of a very good plate of food.  The front of house are great and the food is quick and speedy throughout with the food being great value for money.

Will defiantly be coming back for more.

Hanburys Fish & Chips Restaurant – Torquay

Visited the above restaurant on the 27th September with a table booked at 7:30 for a party of 5 of us. This restaurant also has a take away which is beside the main entrance and this has won many awards for its “Famous” fish and chips in Torquay and has even won country wide recognition.  However the establishment has not entered any of the competitions in recent years.

Upon walking into the restaurant you are immediately put into the main walk way of waitresses and guests, after walking down past several diners you then arrive at the main counter.  After stating my name etc we were shown to our table which was by the window and looked out onto the main road and was certainly good for people watching.  The inside is decorated in a Nautical theme with small boats, sea gulls, large wooden models and even a life size boat steering wheel on the ceiling, this however I found was dulled by the use of tacky fairy/Xmas lights dotted around the place.

The staff here were very polite and seemed to carry out their job well and took our orders etc.  The menu was filled with what you would expect from a “fish and chip” restaurant. However there was some oddities here such as the “fresh bread with oils”, which i would have expected to find in a italian and not in the local chip shop.  Seeing this i decided to place an order, only to regret this later as i was presented with nothing more than a /Sainsburys part baked roll which was then cooked in the oven…… if the item is not fresh please do not state it is on the menu.

Around 20minutes later my main course was then served of Haddock, topped with smoked salmon with a cheese sauce. Hoping this option would be where the restaurant shined, however this was extremely overcooked with the plate full of water still from the poaching pot, and the cheese sauce was safe to say packet…..  The chips were good with a nice taste, however these were no where near as crisp as i was expecting and i was hoping for something special.  I un-eagerly picked away at my dish until i got towards the centre of the fish was was just very too chewy and bland to go any further.  I then called it a day, now this is a variety for myself to leave food…

My fellow diners who had “Traditional Fish and Chips” however did enjoy their meals and found the fish to be good quality with not a greasy outer batter.

Need to point out though the provided Ketchup Sachets are brilliant and alot better than the usual flat hard to squeeze out types.  (You know what they say, simple things, simple minds)

Now moving on I have to put down my biggest disappointment i found was that it seem when you placed your order, the order was then passed through to the take away next door and then cooked like any other standard takeaway order.  This i can understand and almost expect from a fish & chip shop restaurant, however i was then surprised…..

I kept seeing waitresses carrying large boxes from the counter to the kitchen and going backwards and forwards after a while watching this I found this was the food from the Takeaway, which to my surprise was food boxed up for a takeaway (traditional cardboard box/Paper).  The waitress then took this box to the side of the restaurant, lined up plates (cold), and then proceeded to tip/unbag the food onto the plates for the diners, this also involved “chucking” the mushy peas out of pots into serving bowls etc etc. I found this whole setup extremely disappointing, if i am paying £9 for fish and chips i do not expect it to be in take away boxes to then have a waitress serve it up how my mother would at home, also the clanging of plates and forks etc as waitresses attempted to dish up is unnerving.

The waitresses also did not use/ware gloves whilst carrying out this operation of “plating up”, this is a slight concern from myself as these girls have been  handing money, used plates from other guests, etc.  I do think if this operation  has to take place in this manor the girls could at least put on some latex gloves to plate the food.

Overall – 3/10

Overall very disappointed. For 5 eaters the bill was well over £140.00 with drinks and meals etc (Bread Starters / No desserts).

Ode Restaurant – Shaldon – Review

This evenings restaurant review is of the quite small and quant restaurant “Ode”.  Upon arriving and first inspection looking at the front entrance, which looks more like a small town house. With large open windows with small A4 pages listing menu’s etc, and also a lovely stain glass window door the centre of the bay windows.  Just to the left hand side is the entrance and upon entering you then turn a corner and walk directly into the small eating area.

Ode is slightly different from other restaurants as the whole Eos about the place, is organic locally sourced produce, but this does not only mean about the food. This also includes the building its self, I can only guess that upon purchasing the building the owners stripped it back to basics and then filled the place with local materials/goods. A list of such local products can be found on their website site which includes things such as:

  • Tumbled kale travertine floor in restaurant – natural stone from Europe.
  • Tables made from European ash wood from sustainable sources and made locally in Prince Town, Dartmoor.
  • Sourced reclaimed timber and driftwood from salvage yards.

They are also very dedicated to providing only organically sourced produced, although I’m not a fan of the organic type food etc (I’m just not that interested in it), i am pleased to see a restaurant/chef/owner show such caring in his produce and his working environment. This shows a good first impression and I haven’t even seen the food yet!!

Table was booked for 7:45, as this was the only time slot available to me, which shows the popularity of this restaurant as i booked a week in advance.

Upon entering the restaurant i was immediately greeted by a friendly waitress and showed a table which was by the window and had a lovely view out onto the street so great for people watching. The restaurant is very small and cosy and only doing 24 covers, you can imagine has an intimate feel of good homely cooking. Unfortunately I was 15 minutes earlier than my booking however this was not a problem and the waitress was very friendly. Upon seating Claire (Head of Front of House) greeted me and she was a fabulous guide to the paper sheet printed menu.  She was very kind with guiding me through the menu and some of the most popular dishes and personal favorites, I found this wonderful and something that is really lacking in restaurants today, without having to ask.

After having made my selections some flat bread with cumin with an olive paste was served, this was a nice change to the regular bread with oils/butter and the bread. Fabulous and crisp and a real good strong flavour of cumin.

A complimentary amuse bouche was then served of sand eel’s in Japanese breadcrumbs and lemon, with a home-made tartare sauce, this was extremely tasty combined with the sauce worked well on the palette. The tartare sauce was particularly quite acidic which I am a fan of and worked well.  Also with the use of the Japanese  breadcrumbs these were not greasy and had a good dry feel.

My starter of “Salad of Lyme bay lobster and brown crab, with BBQ sauce and marinated courgette” arrived around 10 minutes after the amuse bouche was served. The style of the plating was quite modern, however with the use of the salad leaves managed to keep that home look but very sophisticated style of plating lay underneath. Upon trying the Lobster i found this to be sweet and have a lovely texture which was well cooked. The accompanying BBQ sauce was not what you have come to expect from the local pub, no thick dark brown sauces here. Instead was a lovely and mild sauce which had many different layers of flavour, however I would have liked abit of kick to the sauce and some heat to join the dish. The crab element of the dish was crab lightly bound in a dressing, which seemed to have quite a strong coriander flavour and worked well to refresh your palette, again if the BBQ sauce had a bit of kick to accompany this it would have worked even better. I did find four pieces of crab shell unfortunately while eating the dish, now some times this cannot be helped, however these were quite large but again when having crab one has to expect this some times. The dish was a very good and generous portion but this should be expected for a £13 starter.

My main course of sea bass then arrived, on first inspection I was dissipated by the portion size as this seemed rather small. However once moving the fish I found this to be a very thick cut and I was immediately impressed with the crisp skin and perfectly white rims of the cooked wish. Underneath the main star, was some various mixed vegetables of runner beans etc. This was then following by the spider crab, now having never tasted this before I was a very pleased with my menu choice, the meat was lovely and almost creamy to eat. The oil dressing provided was quite sweet and provided a nice contrast to the Quinoa mixed in within the crab meat. This turned out to be a much more filling dish than I expected and although I think the £22 price tag is quite steep this again has been caught only 2 miles away by the local line caught fishermen. So you need to expect a certain price premium for this quality and local produce.

A dessert menu was then presented to me and immediately my eyes were drawn to the chocolate cake, again Claire was fantastic and upon asking her about the chocolate % etc this was all answered from memory and quickly. The chocolate cake was made from 74% and both there dark and white chocolate come from the Uk and used Beans. However again this dish was quite an expensive example I thought upon ordering, but thought I would hold judgement until this was served. Praying that also I did not stave myself for the whole day to miss out on a lovely calorie ladened dessert. A black Americano coffee was also ordered as well.

When the desert arrived all my worries started to fade away in a chocolate coma.  It seemed how the chocolate cake took a serious back seat on this dish, and the Moose seemed to take more of the 1st place, with a large scoop curled on top of the cake.  The cake its self was very nice and moist and because the exclusion of flour, it was quite dense and seems to fall apart and break into nice little sections to eat.  The accompanying chocolate brittles again very amazing with a rich chocolate and sugar flavour, and were beautiful.  Now on to the moose which was in 2 words “Mind Blowing” the caramel flavours really did shine through this thick and dense moose, i savored every bite of this truly gorgeous element of the dish and found it to be particularly the star of the night.

My Coffee then arrived and was lovely hot and flavoursome, the accompaniments were a delightful fruit brioche which was brittle to bite but then turned into a lovely and chewy bread within the mouth.  Also the chocolate Ganache was very good and very rich and dense, however the over use of Coco powder did overpower the actual chocolate slightly.

Final thoughts:
Service – 9/10
The service here is nothing short but impressive, with your glass quickly and constantly topped up without even having to glance at a server.  The staff here are all very kind and polite and are welcoming to have a chat.  Claire was a particular star of the show whose knowledge of the food, produce and also the building was impressive.

Food – 8/10
The food tonight was a gallery of fine cooking combined with real caring of produce, the local produce and effort gone into finding such special elements really did show.  However little things i believe could have slightly been improved such as the BBQ sauce on the starter and the crab shells found at the beginning as well.  These issues aside though, the whole meal was very good with good and also new flavours being shown.

Value – 7/10
The entire meal came to a quite reasonable £52, which i was pleased with however if i was a larger group or with partner this could soon add up.  I understand the need to the premium prices due to the local produce but i think the costs could be looked at slightly to get the dishes more at even prices.  However at the end of meal talking with the owner i understand they do a “taste of the Teign” menu which is a set cost menu, but this is only served on Tuesday- Friday nights.

Overall – 8/10
A very impressive and cozy restaurant which local produce really is the main star of the show.  Anyone who decides to eat here will find welcoming staff and lovely sea food.