Monday, 24 August 2009

Water Margin, North Baddesley

Ian and I have two weeks off work, and instead of going on holiday, we've decided to have two weeks of playing games, reading in the sunshine, and eating out. So, for our first meal out, we decided to go to the Harvester in Eastleigh. But reviewing a Harvester seems pointless, so I'm about to review the second place we visited, somewhere we go often because the food and service is great, but somewhere we've not gotten round to reviewing yet.

Water Margin is a small restaurant set between two peoples houses on a road in North Baddesley. It's clearly a family business, and it does well - possibly because it's so reasonably priced. They do a gourmet buffet Sunday - Thursday, £14.90 for all you can eat - but everything is cooked fresh to order. We also noticed they were doing a set lunch menu for £6 when we went today (Soup & Spring Roll + Main & Rice).

Every time we go, we always seem to order a large selection of the appetizers and they tailor the portion sizes to the size of your group (3 people, 3 spring rolls etc). We have the steamed dumplings (Ian doesn't like these because they are a little oniony but I love the flavour so I eat the extra one), sesame prawn toast (this is well topped with prawn), spring rolls (not my favourite but we usually get them for my mum), spare ribs (messy but yummy), crispy won tons, smoked chicken (this is amazing, a definite one to order) and this time we ordered some of the king prawns (again tasty, but not available if you have the reduced lunch buffet at £11.90). Ian always likes to order the soup (Crabmeat & sweetcorn) and I can usually be seen sneakily sticking my spoon in to steal some. I like the way chinese soups are thick, but not creamy - I'd love to be able to replicate this at home (I've never tried so it might be simple).

After the appetizers is the duck course, but they also do really good crispy mongolian lamb (those that know the song should be singing it right now!). So we have half duck and half lamb. The duck comes with the usual cucumber and spring onion with hoisin sauce, and the lamb comes with a sweet plum sauce, which works really well. If I'm honest, I could eat this course for the main as well, but not sure they'd let you.

There are a lot of mains to choose from, and we always hope to try something new if we have room. This time we had lemon chicken (the sauce is nice and lemony), sweet and sour pork, lamb szechuan style & duck with ginger and pineapple. I'm not big on ginger, but that was actually really good (although I couldn't eat too much of it). Other dishes we've tried before include crispy chilli beef (this is very crispy, and possibly my favourite), the squid (I'm still not sure about chinese cooked squid - always seems a bit rubbery to me), and some of the prawn dishes (not exactly sure which) - the prawns are always big and meaty.

Usually desserts in chinese restaurants aren't good, but the Water Margin do a wonderful pineapple ice cream that we can never seem to resist.

So to conclude, the food is great, the value is amazing, and the service friendly - highly recommended!!

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