Friday, 28 August 2009

The Old Vine, Winchester

On Wednesday we ate at home, so it seems a little strange to review my own cooking (I'd give it 10/10) so I'll move onto our next meal out. The venue - The Old Vine in Winchester. It started out promising because when Ian phoned up to book, he was told that there was only one table left - rubbish restaurants don't tend to be fully booked, especially on week days.

After a fun journey through Winchester's crazy one way system, we made it to the restaurant, and on first looks it seemed more like a bar, but through a curtain, we found the restaurant area, and were shown to our reserved table. We'd looked at the sample menu online, and had already set our hearts on the scallops, but they weren't to be found on the menu placed before us. Instead we chose the crispy squid with sweet chilli sauce, the garlic chilli king prawns & goats cheese, aubergine & tomato on toast. Yes, three starters! Starters are clearly the best part of every meal, so we decided to have one each and share the third - and I was pleased we did.

The aubergine starter was really nice, although I think it would have benefited from a layer of onion chutney also - 8/10. Ian's starter, the crispy squid, really was crispy but also excellently cooked so that it wasn't at all rubbery, 9/10. The garlic & chilli prawns were meaty and had a great flavour, the only disappointment with the starters was that the bread that came with these didn't have any butter with it, but instead we dipped the bread in the chilli oil - 8/10, losing points for portion size and lack of butter.

For the main course we attempted to order two slow roasted lamb shoulders, but were informed there was only one available. I quickly picked the duck confit, and am sooo glad I did - when it arrived it was lovely and pink, and fell off the bone, and was juicy and succulent and amazing and the best thing in the world (can you tell I really liked it?). I could have eaten ten but Ian wouldn't let me order any more - 10/10. His lamb was tasty, served on a bed of sweet potato mash. Annoyingly the chef decided to garnish it with chives but they were all in a big clump so we could get them out. The sweet potato mash was nice, Ian wasn't keen on the green beans that accompanied it, he didn't seem to think they worked with the rest of the meal (and he also isn't keen on them in general!) - 8/10, mainly because the lamb was quite fatty.

For dessert we ordered the banoffee cheesecake and the summer fruit pudding with ice cream. I've never had summer fruit pudding, mainly because there is usually something more enticing on the menu, but the list of desserts weren't amazing here. I think the pudding would have been better if the filling wasn't all currants (blackcurrants, redcurrants), and was more berries, but it was quite a nice light end to the meal, 6/10. Ian's cheesecake looked nice, it came with some sliced banana on top, but the base was quite thick, 8/10.

The food here was good, despite the disappointing choices of desserts, and they had lots of wines on their specials board, so if that's what you value, I'd recommend this place to you. It was also in a nice location, just across from the cathedral, although you couldn't quite see this out of the window, but would be a good location for a post dinner stroll.

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