Booking a table for 2 for a late lunch was easy in that there was space for us and we didn't have to go for a date far off in the future. It was made more difficult as I was put on hold during the first call and then cut off. Second call straight after getting cut off, I was told that I should leave my name and number and someone would confirm by later that afternoon. It got to about 16:30 and no one had called so I called for the third time and was told my booking had been taken and they knew about it. Unfortunately I didn't but all sorted.
Our friends Claire and Martyn decided to join us and I called again on the day and asked to increase the number for our booking and this was arranged very easily.
The scratchings were crispy and seasoned with salt and a hint of chilli. Great beer snack. The good thing was they did not feel greasy or oily and there was no fatty reside left in the bowl or on the fingers once they'd been eaten.
The olive toast didn't appeal to me on the menu but the others wanted to try and Steve shared his piece. I actually enjoyed it more than I thought it would as the olive tapenade wasn't too strong and had a nutty flavour and texture to it. The anchovy was salty and meaty and the pepper added a freshness.
- Sea Bounty mussels with saffron and aioli
- Buffalo milk halloumi with chickpeas, salted lemon
- Whole rotisserie quail - best eaten with fingers
The halloumi and chickpeas was another good combination and the green blob of avocado mousse type stuff added a richness to the flavours.
Steve and I really enjoyed the quail which was simply seasoned and roasted and yes we dug in with our hands as prompted by the menu. The meat was tender and juicy and there was a smokey charred flavour coming through from the rotisserie.
The chicken came on a creamy sauce with some greens, carrots and chicken jus. The pork came as two cutlets with a strip of belly pork with crackling, crispy sage and creamy barley risotto.
Both meats were soft and tender retaining moisture and succulence. They were very simply cooked with clean seasoning and no fancy frills or twists. They fitted in with the simple white surroundings of the dining area.
Our side dishes were crispy chips which were indeed crispy, steamed baby potatoes and a chopped broccoli and freekah salad. I particularly enjoyed the freshness of the freekah salad which had a tart zing running through it cutting through the richness of the meat and heaviness of the two potato side dishes.
I chose the steamed suet pudding, lemon, brown sugar and runny cream. The pudding was crumbly and moist, sweet with sugar and tart with lemon. Absolutely delicious and the boys needed no convincing to join in.
Claire went with the chocolate prune pudding, vanilla ice cream and whisky sauce. Light on the whisky but heady on the cocoa and prune, this was also demolished very quickly.
We enjoyed the simplicity and freshness of the food. This lunch triggered our curiousity as to what the restaurant will be like when it opens. Will it take this simplistic and pub traditions to another level or go in a completely different direction?
In spite of the ease we had in securing a table at relatively short notice (maybe 3 or 4 days in advance) the place was pretty busy with no spare tables. And I can imagine it will get busier.
It's a shame that initial reviews are shaky. We found service to be friendly enough, warm welcome by front of house. Subsequent service by waitstaff was a little frazzled but I can imagine over time this will cease. Surroundings were still very clean and untouched - fresh paint smell still lingering. It's bright and white yet the food is far from sterile.