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The Restaurant Bar and Grill
14, John Dalton
Sunday, 4th November 2001
It's my son's birthday. I'm beginning to realise that bringing him up to appreciate good food and drink is costing me dearly.
We have decided to go out to dinner to celebrate, and settle on The Restaurant Bar and Grill. We'd tried a couple of months ago without making reservation, because we just happened to be passing. That time they didn't have a table for the next couple of hours, so we reluctantly went elsewhere. This time, we'd booked.
We arrived at 7:30 to find the bar fairly quiet. We decided to go straight upstairs to the restaurant. We were pleased to be offered a table by the top-to-bottom plate glass windows overlooking John Dalton street - but we very quickly asked for another table in a non-smoking section. I think that one of the attractions of the Restaurant is the open vista onto the city - and I am disappointed that it's reserved, effectively, for smokers. Nevertheless, our table just alongside the stairwell was acceptable - though my daughter asked to swap with me because the light shining upwards through the glass floor was dazzling her.
The menu was, er, "small but perfectly formed". Marg and I had a glass of Pastis each, Lee had a pint of Lager and Kathryn a Gin and Tonic. We had to ask the waiter to give us a few minutes more to decide on our dishes, as there is not a vast array and our party has it's share of finicky eaters!
The final selections were:
Marg. Start with - nothing. She of little appetite decided she would sample some of the others. Main course - Trofiette Chicken - we had to ask what it was - pasta spirals.
Kathryn. Start with Mediterranean Mezze - the olives were quickly re-deployed to me and Lee. Main course, Angus Beefburger.
Lee. Start with Chicken Caesar Salad, followed by Seabass.
I started with Char Grilled Chilli Squid with Thai noodles, followed by Cumin Loin of Lamb.
Side orders. Buttered Pak Choi, Roasted New Potatoes with Rosemary, Runner Beans and Buttered Spinach.
A bottle of Chianti Classico went rather well with all of this, together with a couple of bottles of water.
Once again, our family outings give us the chance to sample each-other's dishes. Other diners might have been bemused by the amount of dish-passing that went on! Marg was initially disappointed with the pasta, because she'd forgotten to ensure that there was no Parmesan on it. Of course it arrived with Parmesan. Luckily, this was fresh Parmesan, not the month-old sawdust offered by lesser establishments, and was presented as distinct slivers on top of the pasta, so was a simple task to remove and re-distribute (to me!). Once that was settled, we all thought the pasta was well made, well flavoured.
Lee's Caesar Salad was as good as you would expect, and the Sea Bass was excellent - the skin golden and crispy with a delicious flavour. He was less impressed with the Saffron Potato cake - purely as a matter of personal taste. I also was less than keen on them.
Kathryn's Mezze was a revelation to her - normally a very finicky eater, she relished all bar the olives. When her Beefburger arrived she thought that it might be a little too much for her. By the time we'd all had a taste, there was none left! She (and we) thought it was pretty good.
My Chilli squid was good. Often, squid can be more like rubber, but this was cooked to a turn, with no hint of vulcanisation! The chilli was not overpowering, and the spices and flavouring added just enough to the squid and noodles to "get the juices going". The Cumin Lamb Loin was well presented: I'd asked for it pink - it arrived pink.
Now, I like cumin, but it is a powerful flavour and I found that it was a touch too prevalent in this dish for my taste. Lee agreed, but nevertheless, at the end of the meal, there was none left!
The vegetables were perfectly done, and, particularly for me, doused in just the right amount of butter!
Desserts: Apple Sponge, Bread and Butter pudding and Ice cream were all presentable, though none of us is really a big fan of desserts.
Coffees all around - the coffee was pretty good, brought the meal to a pleasant conclusion, and a bill of £111 before service.
All the while, there was a pleasant buzz about the place, and we felt at home.
The verdict is that it was everything we'd expected, and I can say I would not have been surprised had the bill been higher.