A fairly recent opening by TV chef Martin Blunos, it’s some years since he has had a permanent base and we were keen to give this a go having missed out on his previous establishments. It’s not somewhere you’re going to stumble across by accident, being away from the town centre and tucked away behind a hotel so that it’s not even visible from the street. Clearly he’s not going to get any passing trade, which is perhaps why it was only about half full on a recent Friday evening visit.
There is a decking area at the rear if you want to sit outside, but the only outlook is the hotel car park. Once inside, it has a very modern, slightly blingy, theme, with a predominant green colour and striking modern lighting on the walls. You are first shown to the fresh fish counter before going to your table, and this included a good selection of crab, lobsters, oysters, sole, etc., which you could select from if you wished. This room also included the specials marked up on a whiteboard.
The menu consisted of a good selection of dishes, with about eight or nine options for each course. Non fish eaters may struggle a bit, with a Fillet Steak Pie being the only meat option, along with a couple of vegetarian dishes on the specials board. As soon as we were seated we were brought some very soft bread which we could have with butter (not solid from the ‘fridge like so many places!) or oil & vinegar. This was soon joined by a small tray of nuts and olives, and then an amuse bouche of salmon mouse, very thin, crispy bread and “dirty radishes” (dried, ground olives sprinkled on them to look like soil!). We went for a Crab Tortellini from the main menu to start and a Monkfish Scampi with Tomato Ketchup Mayo from the specials board which were both very good. Main courses consisted of Glazed, Wild Sea Trout with Pak Choi, Chilli & Ginger and a Cold Poached Wild Salmon with Herb Mayo, and again, these were both very good.
Before pudding we got a pre-dessert of his signature dish, boiled egg & soldiers, where the soldiers were actually shortbread and the egg was a vanilla mousse (the white) and a mango sauce (the yolk). It even came with “Salt and Pepper” to sprinkle on which was actually white and dark sugar. For the pudding itself we both went for the English Strawberry Meringue with Toasted Almonds from the specials board.
Overall we really enjoyed this. True, the vegetable side dishes were a little steep at £4 each, but this was more than made up for by all the extras. If I had any criticism of the food it would be that a lot of it was a little salty for my taste, but that is of course largely personal preference. Some reviewers have mentioned the inexperience of the waiting staff, and whilst this is probably true with one of them struggling to get the cork out of a wine bottle and being unable to tell me what a Jersey Curd was, this was more than made up for by the fact that they were all very friendly, pleasant and helpful. Personally I’d much rather have that than some stuffy know-it-all. The man himself also came to our table to ask if everything was ok, so perhaps he hast taken on board some of the earlier comments on here.
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