6th July 2017 6pm

After being wowed by Ishka’s Instagram account, we had originally intended to attend one of Ishka’s launch events. We could only attend the first or two dates available, which upon arrival was clear was not happening as the place was still a building site. With no explanation from the PR company, we left it a little while to let the place get going. We were off to see a show at the EICC and as this was handily across the road, we decided to take the opportunity to finally try it out.

Ishka is a smallish venue but has an array of tables and booths. We were given a booth which was nice. There was a giant pillar candle on the table which had left quite a bit of wax splattered across the surface but at least that was off to one side. We were given both the a la carte and market menus. The latter seemed reasonable at £14 for two courses and £18 for three courses. The price on the menu was a little more expensive than on the website but at bill time we were charged the lower fee (as quoted above). The drinks were a little more on the expensive side but the cocktails we had were all excellent.

We all ordered from the market menu. I went for the cauliflower veloute followed by the bavette steak. My friends chose the veloute or the smoked chicken for starters. For their mains they also chose the steak or the pork loin with glazed pork cheek.

I was a bit surprised at the size of the veloute upon arrival. This was a massive soup bowl, far bigger than a usual starter portion. The veloute also had some big chunks of coated black pudding and some curried potato chips. The two of us that had this dish thought the black pudding was going to be sprinkled across the top so found it a bit heavy in the way it was served. The veloute was sorely underseasoned and wasn’t remedied by the black pudding. All in all a bit disappointing. The other two were eating the smoked chicken, which was received more positively. Overall the dish was good and the chicken cooked well. However one of them commented that the accompanying saffron yoghurt was a little overpowering for the rest of the dish.

We hoped for more with the mains. Three of us had the bavette steak, presented on beautiful red plates. The steaks were all cooked to our requests, which was pleasing. The cut isn’t that easy to eat though, which was a bit of a shame. The steaks came with fries and salad, which had a generous seasoning of salt. We thought this dish was ok but not as good as it could be. The final one of the group had the pork. Sadly she thought this was poor, with some of the meat being incredibly dry and the whole dish needing to be exposed to some seasoning. She was very disappointed.

Only two of us decided to venture onto desserts. One went for the passion fruit tart and the other the apple meringue. The tart was shallow and wide, and served with a coconut ice cream. The apple dish consisted of apple compote, toffee and pistachio cake. These were both enjoyed. The flavours and textures of both dishes were of good quality.

Whilst the décor was slick, those sat on the outer facing side of the booth felt incredibly close to the nearby tables and people being shown to their table were often brushing perilously close to our food and drinks. It was also difficult for the waiter to serve those on the inner side of the booth, having to lean over the wall from the bar side to place and collect dishes/glasses.

Ishka sadly failed to meet expectations. We desperately wanted the place to do well and the service was very good. Sadly, overall the food didn’t quite make its mark. Worth a pop in for a cocktail if you are feeling flush.

Food – 6/10
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere- 8/10
Value – 7.5/10

Overall – 29.5/40

Would I eat here again? Unlikely but might pop in for a drink

Cost £107 for two 2 courses for the set menu plus two 3 courses from the set menu, 1 bottle of wine and two cocktails.

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