The starters were mixed: some stronger than others, some memorable and some lost. Four miniscule Scottish scallops were surrounded by wisps of fennel and peas and dribbles of chorizo dressing. It had a little bit of everything from spicy fatty chorizo to sweet earthy peas and tender scallops, just not enough. Fried calamari came in a basket, crisp, hot and fresh with just enough cooling lime dressing and spicy chilli sauce. It was typical, familiar and tasty. The sharing plate trio was much less appealing— the short rib pastrami was dry and burnt, the pulled pork croquette was flavorless, and the pork ribs were dull.
What possessed me to get a salad is beyond me. Maybe it was that crispy duck egg that hypnotized me. Sometimes salads are your favorite, but this “salad” was missing what makes a salad. The base of the “salad” was a thick bed of chewy, stiff, dark wild rice, which was mostly inedible in my book. The crispy duck egg, figs, zucchini and almonds, however, were tasty on their own. There was so much crunch from the egg and a creaminess from its soft yolky center that added richness to the merlot dressing and summery ingredients. Good thing my friend and sister are much lighter eaters than I am.
Both mains were hearty, not extremely creative nor memorable, but solid and satiating. The flanks of pork rib eye were tender and juicy, topped with a chunky apple chutney to complete the classic pair. The sweetness of the round sweet potato contrasted the earthy mushy peas, highlighting the salt of the meat and long crunchy chicarron. Even the spicy baby chicken was well executed but just chicken with a fat scoop of mashed potatoes. The bone marrow and Madeira jus and mushroom sauces added oomph but were unnecessary in the end.
Yes, lunch was necessary and nourishing, but it was just a backdrop for memories, laughter, catching up and the essential Pimms. It was more than just a meal; it was the start of a great trip with great friends.