8th December 2015 6pm
In the former site of Bar Rioja and Iggs (and possibly the Mussel and Steak bar for a brief amount of time) Michael Neave has opened a new restaurant. I already love Michael Neave’s Kitchen and Whisky Bar (I must do a visit for a blog post at some point) so when I heard he was behind this place I had to give it a whirl.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated in blues and light wood and also has a fancy glass feature in the floor. There are also lovely booths to section off parts of the dining space, so the dining experience is spacious yet cosy. Lovely staff got us started with drinks – although we were not offered tap water. I went with still water whilst my friend went for wine. As you would expect, the menu covers steak and seafood. However, I reckon there is less seafood on there than would be expected. Not that it mattered as there was still some choice. I wanted to try both meat and seafood elements, so went for highland venison carpaccio followed by a kilo of mussels and a side of fries. My friend chose smoked haddock and saffron potato terrine and a beef and oyster pie.
Firstly, the starters. My venison had great flavour and the meat was incredibly soft. A light seasoning on the meat made the most of the taste. The accompanying potato and radish salad, whilst full of chive, missed a bit of seasoning but was pleasant. The drizzle of balsamic glaze was the only thing that gave the dish a bit of sparkle. Other side of the table the terrine was enjoyed and the smokiness came through well.
We had a little wait for our mains. I was given a side bowl with hot water and a lemon for my mussels, which was good to see but there was a long wait after that before the food actually appeared. Mussels good (apologies for the duff photo but I am just proving I had them!). The mussels were plentiful and juicy. The sauce I had chosen for them a shallot, white wine and garlic cream. Unusually, this lacked acidity of something such as lemon but strangely this was still yummy. The side of fries was a good call as they were gorgeous, crispy and had good flavour. On the other side of table the pie looked fab. It was hot with plenty of meat. The carrots were also good. However, my friend felt the mash a bit too cold in comparison with the pie , which took the shone off the dish.
We plumped for desserts. I went for a chocolate mousse with raspberry sorbet. My dining companion chose vanilla panna cotta with a berry soup and shortbread. The mousse was very rich but the sorbet and fruit helped cut through it, which resulted in a deliciously moreish dish. The two miniscule blobs of coulis seems superfluous though. The panna cotta was lacking wobble but other than, tasted good. The fruit soup and shortbread also were of a good standard.
I found that they were a bit slow to take our dessert order and clear our plates afterwards but overall it was a nice enough experience. I did find the restaurant lacked the buzz found in Michael Neave’s Kitchen and there was nothing good enough to wow me to go out of my way to come back, but everything was decent enough.
Food – 8/10
Service – 7/10
Atmosphere – 7/10
Value – 7/10
Overall – 29/40
Cost £63 for 2 x 3 courses, bottle still water and a glass of red wine