Eating Out: Restaurants of the Year 2012 reviewed
Throughout 2012, The Journal has published a Restaurant of the Month in each edition.
Below you can read highlights from our reviews and see which restaurants were selected as the Overall and Readers’ Choice winners.
Swans, Reeds Hotel, Barton-Upon-Humber - Readers’ Choice Winner
2 4 1 on all items on the steak and grill menu served monday to saturday
Monday - Saturday 12noon - 8pm
cheapest item credited for free
Management reserve the right to withdraw the offer at anytime.
not to be used in conjunction with anyother offer.
Contact: 01472 808799
Valid until: Saturday, June 15 2013
The setting is superb, be it on a fine spring or summer’s evening or a wild and winter’s night. To one side, a freshwater lake rich in wildlife; to the other the Humber Bridge.
Reeds Hotel at Barton-Upon-Humber is just yards away from the river bank; in fact, anyone staying here can, via a gate, enjoy a bracing walk along the popular riverside footpath which runs just past the hotel.
My starter delivered powerful, but lighter, flavours. Here was salmon tartare Nicoise, a French classic that was zingily fresh, with sophisticated mouthfuls of finely chopped and beautifully fresh raw salmon, accompanied by fine beans, baby potatoes, a tomato compote, quail’s egg and a black olive mayonnaise.
Washingborough Hall, Washingborough
There’s a wonderful view of Lincoln Cathedral from the heart of the village and in truth you’re only minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Yet in the peace and quiet of Washingborough village you could be a million miles away.
I swear it’s a bit of a closely-guarded secret location and I guess the locals like it that way. Certainly, the reason for my visit – to dine at Washingborough Hall – has a profile far lower than it deserves.
Sure, its restaurant has an AA rosette, but if you’re relying on other major food guides for your recommendations, you will remain in blissful ignorance.
With tables classically dressed with fine linen, silverware and candles, the restaurant’s atmosphere is one of relaxed upmarket style, with food to match.
A rustic dish refined to the nth degree delivered a joyous main course; a wonderful piece of belly pork cooked nice and slow to allow fats to dissolve and bring out masses of flavour, but retaining the necessary piece d’resistance – the crunchy crackling that sat atop it like some glorious culinary crown.
The meat, itself, was perched on top of more savoury goodies – a slice of moist black pudding and some creamy mustard mash that added a real tang. Just brilliant.
Whites, Beverley, East Yorkshire
If I could dine at Whites on a weekly basis I would be happy indeed. My waistline would struggle but I would be smiling, for the restaurant is an object lesson in how things should really be done.
Three courses in to the tasting menu and our waitress put down our plates with a flourish. They were covered with glass cloches and inside a swirl of smoke ...
To great effect she lifted the domed cover to let the smoke escape, which then revealed morsels of smoked lobster tail which had been poached in apple, haddock and caviar cream.
The smell and taste was intoxicating.
Table number seven. If you call to reserve at the Riverside, that is the table to book for great views of the estuary and beyond – on a clear night, you won’t be disappointed.
As a couple who have never been to a Spanish restaurant together before, we had walked in concerned that the menu might not be to our taste yet, within minutes, realised there was a host of dishes that sounded so sumptuous.
For £28.50, you can have six dishes on the menu and a bottle of wine. This made things considerably easier, so we ordered a white zinfandel and reeled off a list of six dishes with ease, and ordered some bread and oil to start.
The headliner was clearly the strips of beef cooked in white wine and garlic. Incredibly tender and subtly infused with the perfect combination of flavours, my advice to you is do not order one to share, or you will find yourself eyeing up your partner with distrust throughout the meal.
Kingsway Hotel, Cleethorpes
There is a time for relaxed bistros and a place for cosy country pubs but sometimes you just want to dress up to the nines and indulge in a luxurious dining experience. And so it was that we headed to the Kingsway Hotel, where we discovered a refined restaurant that struck the balance between making us feel both special and right at home.
I plumped for the goujons of fresh plaice to start, while my partner – we’ll call him Mr C – couldn’t resist the chicken liver and brandy paté.
We were led through to our table with time to tuck into the delicious granary bread and melba toast on offer before our dishes arrived.
My goujons were made from the most beautiful piece of plaice and were cooked to perfection. The accompanying tartar sauce, crisp salad and lemon added a welcome tang. Mr C was equally as impressed with his pate, which had just the right consistency. He also complimented the fruity Cumberland sauce. The starters certainly set the bar high – and thankfully our main courses didn’t disappoint.
Eighteen57 at Forest Pines Hotel & Golf Resort, Broughton – Overall Runner-Up
As we drove towards Forest Pines Hotel & Golf Resort in the warm evening sunshine, Mr C and I mused over the name of the restaurant we were heading to. “Perhaps 1857 is when it opened?” questioned Mr C, before I informed him that Forest Pines is somewhat more modern than that (in fairness to him, he had never been before).
We considered whether it might be some sort of grid reference before resolving to make it our first question when we arrived.
Restaurant manager Chris Hood helpfully informed us that Eighteen57 is, in fact, named after the date the fish docks in Grimsby were officially opened.
I’m a huge believer in utilising seasonal, local produce and was delighted to see that the first page of the menu outlines the restaurant’s mission statement and details where ingredients are sourced from.
Every dish sounded divine so we opted for the six-course tasting menu, incredible value at £39 per person, and allowed us to sample the best the chef has to offer. It is no exaggeration to say that every dish we were served was immaculately executed and tasted sublime.
Perhaps the highlight of the dinner was the most sensational Shetland rope-grown mussels marinière.
The plentiful portions of succulent mussels were served in a wonderful white wine and cream sauce, which had subtle hints of garlic and onions.
Brackenborough Hotel, Louth
Less than half an hour after finishing work, Mr C and I hopped in the car and decided to take the scenic route to our destination for the evening – the Brasserie at the Brackenborough Hotel, near Louth ...
Snaking our way past fields flourishing with produce – from glistening oilseed rape to the spiked tips of seasonal asparagus – the unfeasibly flat landscape provided seemingly endless views which couldn’t fail to bring a smile to our faces.
The Brackenborough is somewhere I have visited countless times on business but have never dined at, thankfully it offers delicious dishes for every occasion.
I plumped for the oak-smoked salmon, served with chive potato cake and lemon creme fraiche, to start, which was divine. The silky-smooth salmon slithers were perched on the warm potato cake and topped with a generous glug of creme fraiche, which had a satisfyingly bitter tang thanks to the lemon.
Mr C opted for a taste of the Orient – the crispy duck spring roll with hoi sin dip, which was beautifully presented on a wooden board and came jam-packed with succulent duck. Other starters included cauliflower fritters, chicken satay kebabs, garlic buttered shrimps and roasted beetroot Waldorf salad.
Advocate Arms, Market Rasen
The Advocate Arms has emerged from the dilapidated shell of the former Gordon Arms Hotel to become an elegant and contemporary restaurant with rooms.
The imposing 18th century frontage and polished oak revolving doors create a striking juxtaposition with the modern decor within.
A neutral colour palette with accents of chocolate brown and burnished gold creates a warm ambience which was made even more welcoming by the friendly staff.
Unbeknownst to us, we had chosen to dine on the launch night of a new menu – which meant three courses were just £19.95. The menu changes every six or eight weeks to take advantage of the best seasonal produce – something I am a huge advocate of (no pun intended!).
Complimentary pre-appetisers of fois gras and chicken liver parfait provided the perfect titillation for our tastebuds and left us anticipating great things to come. The rich parfait was served with sugar syrup coated chopped apricots and finished with crushed Amaretto biscuits and thin slices of Melba toast – providing a welcome combination of textures.
The restaurant sails under the helm of young chef Matt Horsefield, who is certainly one to watch. His inventive combinations of flavours, using the best-possible ingredients, were a joy to savour.
The Ship Inn, Barnoldby-le-Beck
Situated in the pretty village of Barnoldby-le-Beck, The Ship offers the perfect compromise when you want a restaurant-quality meal without the pomp and price of some of our finer eateries.
A specials board on the wall showcased the majority of the dishes on offer, featuring six starters and eight mains which change regularly to take advantage of the best local produce.
Mr C was in his element with so many seafood dishes on offer, and decided on the pan-fried scallops to start.
On the face of it, scallops are so simple to cook – and yet it is so easy to get them wrong and ruin them.
Thankfully, The Ship’s were perfection – striking the delicate balance between being slightly charred on the outside but without being over-cooked and rubbery within. Served with the classic combination of slithers of black pudding and a pea puree, they were simply divine.
I was equally as impressed with my tempura of cod cheeks with a soy and chilli dip. The plentiful portion of succulent cheeks was encased in a light but crispy batter and the tangy sauce provided a welcome kick.
Attempting to strike the perfect balance between quality and quantity almost always ends in compromise.
We’ve all dined at a fancy restaurant with countless accolades but left feeling disappointed at dishes the size of a postage stamp. Often it seems that the better the quality of the food you’re eating, the less of it you get.
And so it was, in search of a delicious meal – and satisfying portions – that we headed to Figs, in Cleethorpes.
In the six years since it opened its doors, Figs has become exceedingly popular with the region’s foodies thanks to its combination of friendly service, chic interior and mouth-watering meals.
Our table, in the unique curved-glass frontage, offered us perfect people-watching potential as locals and end-of-season holidaymakers scuttled past in the rain.
For my main, I selected the chicken breast with a sweet tomato and herb compote, which was quite simply exquisite. The meat was wrapped in pancetta, which helped it to retain plenty of moisture, while the sauce was tangy and packed full of flavour. The accompanying sauteed potatoes and selection of vegetables were plentiful and cooked to perfection.
Mr C couldn’t resist the lure of Figs finest fillet steak pie, which – as the menu promised – was no ordinary pie. The individual portion was served with homemade chunky chips and fresh peas – all beautifully presented on a wooden chopping board.
Comprised of chunks of fillet steak with button onions and lardons of bacon in a delicious thyme and red wine gravy, topped with short crust pastry, it was the perfect dish for a chilly evening.
For a winning combination of quality and quantity, Figs is the place to go – no compromise needed.
San Pietro, Scunthorpe – Overall Winner
If I was forced to pick a favourite country out of all those I’ve visited so far, it would have to be Italy. There is just something about the scenery, the climate, the history, the architecture and the style, that I find mesmerising. And then, of course, there is the food.
Pizza, pasta and risotto are all favourites of ours here in the UK, but authentic Italian cooking is about so much more than that, utilising the finest, freshest meat, fish and vegetables to create truly exceptional dishes.
San Pietro is – as most things Italian are – effortlessly stylish.
To start, I couldn’t resist the leek, pancetta and Tallegio risotto which was utter perfection. Risotto is so easy to get wrong and yet here everything about it was right. The consistency of the rice was perfect; the sauce was rich and creamy, and the poached egg and parmesan on top added their own flavours and textures.
Mr C is something of a scallop connoisseur and couldn’t fault San Pietro’s, hand-dived ones, which were beautifully cooked. But what really set them apart was the accompaniments of Indian-spiced cauliflower, coconut and coriander dressing and fresh chilli.
Pork isn’t usually my first choice as a main dish, but the Pig 3 Ways sounded so intriguing I had to sample it.
I was presented with the most incredible looking dish, the centrepiece of which was an exquisite portion of slow-roasted Redhill Farm pork belly with a delectably crispy skin and soft meat beneath. The other two pork elements; pan-fried fillet and a pig cheek cigar were also delicious, although not quite as moist as the belly. Again, what really added to the overall experience of the dish was the accompaniments, an apple compote that went perfectly with a sweet cider sauce and a cube of decadently rich black pudding, roast potatoes and sauteed chard.
Mr C was delighted with his fillet of Yorkshire beef and I’m reliably informed that the wild mushroom and garlic butter bon bon, potato fondant, baby vegetables and rich port reduction were all heavenly.
The chocolate pyramid was quite honestly the best dessert I’ve ever tasted. As soon as my spoon touched the sponge, a mass of oozing, gooey chocolatey larva erupted out and pooled around the homemade caramel and hazelnut crisp ice cream.
Mr C went for the slightly more virtuous strawberry and mint parfait with lemon sorbet which he found light and refreshing.
The King’s Head, Tealby
One of Lincolnshire’s oldest and most charming pubs – complete with picture-perfect thatched roof – Mr C and I were eager to find sanctuary inside The King’s Head on a particularly chilly winter’s evening.
We were warmly welcomed by our exceeding friendly waitress., who explained the various menu options to us. As well as a very good value table d’hote, there is a bar menu featuring plenty of pub favourites, and a specials board with locally-sourced treats, such as rabbit loin and steaks.
After selecting a couple of glasses of well-priced wine, we had time to drink in our surroundings while waiting for our starters to arrive.
After a rather chewy experience not so long ago, I haven’t braved ordering steak in a pub since. But feeling reassured when the waitress explained the chef could make an accompanying sauce of my choosing (always a positive sign), I decided to order the sirloin, which the menu stated came with “all the accompaniments”. And boy were they plentiful!
My hunk of steak was perfectly charred on the outside and succulently pink in the centre, while the accompanying creamy mushroom sauce was a credit to the chef. I am well known for my sizeable appetite but even I was defeated by my mammoth portion.
As well as giant homemade onion rings, mushroom and watercress salad, I had a dish of the most delicious homemade chips, cooked in their skins for extra flavour.