February 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of my eating adventures and, as ever, I'm excited about what the coming months will bring for us foodies! In case this is your first visit (if not, welcome back), I'm a 30-something female with a very healthy appetite!...I promise to share with you my experience of each restaurant, café or bar in which I set foot...so, let's go out!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Whitelock and Grace – Whiteladies Road, Bristol

NB. Whitelock and Grace is now The Colour Inn, as of October 2011

Another Bank Holiday weekend in Bristol meant another great excuse to indulge in a spot of Sunday-afternoon drinking. This particular weekend also brought about a visit from my London-based pal, H and so, it was considered appropriate to visit a venue a little off-the-beaten-track in order to avoid the masses and to catch-up in style. Consequently, Whitelock and Grace was the perfect choice....

Date and Time: Sunday 29th May 2011, 16:30
Name of Establishment: Whitelock and Grace*
Location: Clifton Down (Top of the steps to the train station)
Reason for Visit: Cheeky afternoon drinkies with a visiting friend

Tucked away behind Platform 1 nightclub and a stones-throw away from Clifton Down Shopping Centre and train station, Whitelock and Grace does not jump out at the passer-by. In fact, it could be quite easily overlooked and trust me, to miss this venue would certainly be missing out!

Related to Hermanos Café and Bar on Bristol's Clifton Triangle and with a similar laid-back flair, the eclectic vibe of Whitelock and Grace with it's raw brick-work, stylish leather furniture and wall-art inspired by Bristol's city-scene, effortlessly exudes cool. Although H, the Boy and I were the only visiting clientèle at this time, there was no need for an additional buzz as the soundtrack filling the space was full of South-American beats and jazzy notes, thus providing a moody backdrop to our conversation!

Chilled water is served as standard and with it, the menu, which is presented on a clip-board. After ample scrutiny, the three of us decided to put our trust in the knowledgeable server who certainly knew his stuff when it came to the extensive range of beers, wines and spirits that this venue boasts. The main attraction however are the cocktails which, priced reasonably from £6, are listed in categories – even depicting the type of glass in which your drink will be served, (perhaps to determine it's potency!) And so, we were guided to an appropriate tipple, based on our somewhat vague preferences; The Boy (the designated driver) was given a non-alcoholic cocktail of fruit juices in a tall glass, providing the refreshing, exotic flavours that he had sought after. H, steered by her base-spirit preference, was served a Daiquiri made with a generous measure of a three-year-old rum which, muddled with freshly squeezed lime and sugar syrup, was reportedly a good-quality creation with rich, lingering notes.

I opted for the French 75 which combined my two great alcohol loves – (Larios) gin and champagne! I have never before had the two in the same glass before but can report that the result is a concoction with a real bite – mixed with lemon juice and sugar syrup, this was a lightly fizzed, crisp and bitter-sweet cocktail which made for a similar experience to eating Haribo Tangfastics, (which I have a bit of a thing for...luckily!)

I liked that all drinks were served in glasses which appeared to have been kept in the freezer resulting in an extra level of ice-cold refreshment. However, we agreed that a range of available bar snacks would have provided a welcome accompaniment to our drinks – in the end we settled for a bag of kettle chips but as it was either this or pork scratchings, we didn't have much of a choice! That aside, H, The Boy and I really enjoyed our visit to Whitelock and Grace; it's notably different to its neighbouring venues in that it's subtlety (reflected in the venue's minimalistic website and the fact that you have to use to the back entrance and ring the doorbell to be granted access after 10pm) hints at an air of exclusivity and perhaps intends to draw in the more discerning drinker. Furthermore, the changeable menu (as well as the Monthly themed tasting menus whereby cocktails are just £5 each) in addition to the availability of cocktail-making classes keeps this venue's visitor on their toes...and in order to keep up with these irregularities, I can definitely see myself becoming a regular!
Cocktail Afternoon!
And now for the second opinion...
H gave Whitelock and Grace 9/10 and in (kind of) three words, described this venue as 'off-the-cuff', 'inventive' and ;'inviting'.


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Tart after Dark Retro Supper

Since the onset of my descent into the addictive world of Twitter, it has become increasingly apparent how this social networking tool has facilitated keeping abreast of what is happening in a particular domain. In my case, I’d been ‘following’ a number of like-minded foodies for some time, noting the constant advertisement of local eateries, markets and events with interest. On this occasion, I happened to hear of an upcoming event at ‘Tart Café and Foodstore’ on Bristol’s Gloucester Road; a ‘Retro’ 70s-themed supper, headed by the venue’s lead chef, Andrew Griffin. These ‘Tart after Dark’ evenings are renowned within the foodie circle as unmissable and so, I attended the evening alongside the Best Foodie Friend (BFF) with high expectations of what it had in store…I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Date and Time: Thursday 26th May 2011, 19:30
Name of Establishment: Tart Café and Foodstore*
Location: 16 The Promenade, Gloucester Road-Bristol
Reason for Visit: Tart after Dark Retro Supper Evening

Attending this event constituted my first visit to Tart and I was sorry that this had been the case thus far. With a comfortable, friendly ambiance and clean, crisp décor - think tiled/wooden floors, pastel colours and wicker baskets, Tart provides a (more stylish) home-from-home experience. On this occasion, furniture had been set out to accommodate the 40+ guest-list and yet amazingly, the space didn't feel at all cramped. Finishing touches in the form of candles in bubbled glass jars and miniature vases of lemon-coloured flowers adorned each table and it wasn’t long after the subtle 70s soundtrack began that our aperitif arrived; Greg’s Pit Blackeney and Butt Herefordshire Perry, (a twist on the old-school classic, Babycham).

This introductory tipple perfectly whetted our appetites for the appetiser, a larger-than-life mushroom vol-a-vent. Flaked puff pastry encased juicy button mushrooms and ceps in a creamy sauce flavoured with garlic and parsley – just divine! This led to the delivery of our starters and both BFF and I had shunned the Seafood Cocktail (which for the record was beautifully presented and reportedly delicious) for the French Onion Soup. The rich aromas as well as the exquisite sweetness of this dish were, on account of the Chef, a result of the following; a five-hour stint in the oven for the the onions, thus developing their caramelised tenderness, home-made vegetable stock and a generous splash of Madeira. The Gruyere cheese toasts provided contrast in terms of texture and taste and were therefore a most suitable accompaniment .

Mushroom Vol-a-Vent
French Onion Soup

I was grateful for a little wait before mains were served as courses thus far had been delivered in notably ample portions! The Duck à l'Orange was no exception and consisted of several slices of duck breast as well as a confit of duck leg in a port and orange sauce. Although I found that the cutlets were not quite pink enough for my palate, the crisped confit had a scrumptiously flavoursome tang with the familiar salty undertones with which this dish are accustomed. The accompanying Duchesse potato was almost too pretty to devour - presented as a swirl of creamy mash inside a lightly browned coating. The rich buttery taste of this addition complimented the fresh flavours of the peas and Chantenay carrots and gave this dish a real feel-good factor.
Duck à l'Orange
Vegetarians were treated to twice-baked cheese soufflé, which unfortunately, I did not catch a glimpse of!

The pièce de résistance was arguably the pudding. The stacked Black Forest Gateaux featured the lightness of chocolate sponge, the decadence of thick whipping cream and the zing of Morello cherries – sandwiched together and drizzled with thick chocolate and cherry sauces – yum! This really was the perfect end to an impressive line-up of dishes and just when we thought we were finished...the chef brought out surprise petits fours in the form of miniature lemon meringue pies! These melt-in-the-mouth morsels were bite-sized shortcrust pastry cases topped with a dollop of lemon curd and flourish of sticky meringue goo – seriously good!

Black Forest Gateaux

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies
I was so full-up by this point that I had to decline the offer of coffee or tea and although BFF and I decided not to partake in the consumption of wine on this occasion, it was noted that the enticing wine list, made available at the beginning of the evening, (selected from Darren Willis from Grape and Grind) had been expertly put together to pay homage to popular wines of the 70s as well as identifying suitable matches to the four dishes. 

I didn’t experience the 70s first-hand but if tonight’s culinary delights were anything to go by, it was a great era, (fire up the time machine!) I shall definitely return to Tart – the quality of the food is undoubtedly top-notch which, in addition to value for money (tonight’s feast costing just £30 per head) and the friendly-nature of the service makes for a fabulous visit. What’s more, BFF and I were informed that the next ‘Tart after Dark’ evening would constitute a ‘Tastes of Summer Supper’, featuring such dishes as ‘Gazpacho, ‘Salmon in Pastry’ and ‘Strawberry Shortcake’– check out the website for more information, I can’t wait to put my name down! 

And now for the second opinion... 
BFF gave Tart after Dark Retro Supper a rating of 9/10 and in three words described it as, 'rich', 'satisfying' and 'retro'! 

* http://www.lovelytart.com/

Saturday, 14 May 2011

My Burrito – Broad Quay, Bristol

I have to admit that during each and every post-work gym session, the prominent thought occupying my mind is what I'm going to eat afterwards! I almost always have to push myself to resist the carby-hit that I crave to replenish my flagging energy-levels and on this occasion, I bypassed the temptations typically offered during the usual supermarket run and instead, decided to try something a little different and dare I say it, a little healthier too!

Date and Time: Friday 13th May 2011, 18:40
Name of Establishment: My Burrito*
Location: 7 Broad Quay, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Post-gym re-fuelling

Venues serving freshly-prepared burritos and wraps are fast becoming Bristol's preference to the common takeaway; food remains conveniently quick and satisfying yet provides a healthier alternative to the deep-fried, oily offerings with which other 'fast-food' outlets are accustomed.

My visit to My Burrito started with the deliciously spicy aromas that whet your appetite you as soon as you walk through the door. It was this, in addition to the clean, cool vibe that this venue projects, that made up my mind that I would 'sit-in' this time, rather than take my food elsewhere. The décor consists of black marble table tops and red leather-effect seating and, along with the Bristol-themed art work*, potted plants and ample reading material, it made for a funky-come-contemporary space which was both stimulating and comfortable.

My only gripe was the volume of the radio which dominated the space and made it slightly difficult to converse with my server, (who unfortunately was a bit of a mumbler!) However, this was swapped for some moody jazz a little later in my visit which was far more in keeping with the ambiance created here thus far. Furthermore, service was laid-back, friendly and mumbling aside, proved accurate and efficient.

Onto the food which is prepared before your eyes using locally-sourced, farm assured (where applicable) ingredients. I chose a small tortilla wrap which was packed with chicken, (marinated in an abodo of smoked chillis, cumin and coriander), basmati rice and pinto beans which are cooked with smoked bacon, garlic, onion and Mexican spices. These ingredients alone created an amazing array of flavours and so, when combined with the accompanying salad, (home-made) smoked tomato salsa and cool sour cream, resulted in an explosion of varying tastes and textures with that familiar underlying Mexican heat. I particularly liked the lime-zest which had been used to flavour the rice, adding, in my view, an extra zing to your palate! There is a great choice of burrito fillings on offer as well as a range of sides and extras and a rather authentic selection of bottled Mexican beers – lucky that there are complimentary chips and dips to graze on whilst you're making up your mind what to choose!

I felt suitably saintly tucking into my protein-enriched chicken burrito that I decided to follow it with a sweet treat – freshly made Spanish Churros with hot chocolate dipping sauce! These did take a while to prepare as a fresh batch of chocolate had to be made up (and heated) but staff were consistently apologetic and fortunately, as I had planned to take-away dessert so that I could share it with 'The Boy', I wasn't in a hurry. I can report that when the Churros were finally devoured, they were just as anticipated; indulgently moreish and sugary-sweet! The chocolate wasn't of the best quality, (in my opinion, tasting a little like artificially-sweetened hot chocolate!) but the Churros themselves were delicious; warm and fluffy in the middle and crisp on the outside- - yum!
Churros and Hot-Chocolate Dipping Sauce
I think it's fair to conclude that takeaway food need not be unhealthy, neither does it have to prove a drain on one's finances - I didn't think that the prices here were terribly unreasonable at £4.75 for a small burrito and £5.75 for a large. It's true that I did end up with a deep-fried 'takeaway' in some respects but it was for research purposes and after all, I thought that it was only fair to 'wrap' up my evening with a well-earned treat!
My Burrito, Broad Quay-Bristol

Monday, 9 May 2011

Beefeater Grill, Emerson's Green-Bristol

Every so often, I am invited to join my Mum, Auntie and their friends for what they refer to as their 'Tart's Night Out'. This is an evening which typically consists of good food and gossipy banter as well as the odd glass of wine or two. Due to living in varying areas of Bristol's suburban network, the group usually pick a centrally-located eatery for the evening's proceedings but on this occasion had opted for chain restaurant giant, Beefeater Grill at Emerson's Green. I had heard mixed reviews of this particular branch and of the franchise (owned by the Whitbread group) as a whole so thought it only fair to tag along and suss it out for myself...

Date and Time: Thursday 5th May 2011
Name of Establishment: Beefeater Grill*
Location: 200-202 Westerleigh Road, Emerson's Green, Bristol
Reason for Visit: 'Tart's Night Out' Celebrations

Attached to the Premier Inn Hotel and seconds from the Emerson's Green exit of the expansive A4174 ring-road, the Beefeater Grill is conveniently located for residents of Bristol's South Gloucestershire region as well as visitors to the City arriving from the nearby motorways; M4 and M32. Upon entering, my first thought was how large this venue was and despite spanning two floors and laden with tables throughout, I was surprised that it did not feel at all claustrophobic. Quite the contrary in fact as the general ambiance was airy and comfortable - suitably created, in my view, by a well-lit and tastefully decorated space. The downside, however, was the level of noise which drowned out any trace of background music. Despite the bar area being situated in an adjoining room, the main restaurant area had obviously been geared up for families and large parties of diners, packed in to take advantage of simple char-grilled favourites and money-saving meal-deals.

On the subject of Beefeater's meal deals, it is important to note here that all six of our party opted for the 'two courses for £10.99' offer, (alternatively, we could have chosen three for £12.99). The selection provided here was not extensive but adequate and I have to admit that I had a somewhat negative preconception of what the food would be like. I needn't have been so judgemental though as any apprehensions were eradicated as soon as my Paprika Chicken Burger was put down in front of me. This constituted a whole chicken breast which was both moist in texture and seasoned to perfection with the smoky sweetness of paprika spice alongside that familiar just-barbecued taste. This was served in a lightly toasted and seeded bun with the usual suspects in terms of salad garnish and finished with cool sour cream. I had to de-construct the burger in order to maintain a lady-like dining etiquette but this just allowed for savouring the multiple flavoursome elements to this dish. Accompaniments consisted of twice-baked chips (hence, twice as crispy) and a side-salad which was presented in a neat bowl with a ranch-style drizzle and sprinkle of crisped onion pieces – yum!
Paprika Chicken Burger
Beefeater Grills pride themselves on being the 'experts in steak' and yet none of our party opted to find out whether this the case so I'm afraid that I can neither support nor disprove this assertion. However, it was reported that the 6oz beef burger was rich and juicy (cooked to a middle-of-the-road rareness) and diners had enjoyed the choice of toppings, most preferring the flat mushroom and 'black and blue sauce' with the rich and earthy tones this combination created. The Salmon also created a little food-envy on my part as it was perfectly pink, with the visible flaky texture of a well-cooked piece of fish.

As with main courses, desserts were tasty and generously portioned pub-grub classics. My chocolate fudge brownie was served warm and indulgently drizzled with a thick chocolaty goo. The caramel apple crumble pie was the winner of the night however with the warmed tart fruitiness contrasting the cloying sweetness of old-school tasting toffee stickiness. All puddings were also served with 'Mr Whippy' style ice cream (whether they were advertised to or not), I'm not a huge fan of this as I find it to be rather tasteless but it proved quite a novelty for other diners at our table.
Caramel Apple Crumble Pie
To wash down our food, our party took advantage of the current drink offer which entailed a glass of (unidentified) 'pink fizz' with any main meal for just £1. This was suitably chilled upon serving and provided a delicate accompaniment to our meals. After-dinner coffee was courtesy of the 'Costa' brand and was also well received by the group.

Service throughout our visit was friendly and yet at times, a little rough around the edges, (as an example, I had to ask for tap water three times as our server repeatedly forgot to bring it) That aside, Beefeater really did provide us with a top night out. Sure, food is simplistic and to deviate from the meal-deal promotions could prove a costly experience. Also, I can imagine that if you visit during the daytime, especially on the weekend, it will be chock-a-block with diners; predominantly families with children. But, what Beefeater does, it does well and the food served is well-prepared, appetising and provided in ample portions. If you come expecting too much you will be disappointed but this venue does what it says on the tin, well the website actually, it delivers, 'freshly prepared char-grilled food' – can't say fairer than that really!

And now for the second opinion...
This time, I asked my Mum for her view and she gave Beefeater Grill 8/10 and in three words, described this venue as 'value for money'.


Sunday, 8 May 2011

Zizzi Ristorante, Cabot Circus-Bristol

After a sunshiny day-trip to Bristol Zoo Gardens, The Boy and I had planned the alfresco dining delight of wood-fired pizzas at quayside restaurant and grill, Spyglass. However, upon finding that their specialist oven had malfunctioned, we were somewhat thwarted and as a result had to take our growing craving for a satisfying (and affordable) pizza hit elsewhere**. Consequently, we headed to the 'safe-bet' of pizza outlets, Zizzi – this time their branch in Bristol's Cabot Circus...

Date and Time: Wednesday 4th May 2011, 17:30
Name of Establishment: Zizzi Ristorante*
Location: Cabot Circus (top floor), Bristol
Reason for Visit: A need to satisfy mutual pizza craving!

I think it's fair to say that The Boy and I are serious pizza connoisseurs and if Bristolian pizza outlets were pebbles, there are very few that we have left unturned. Previously visited venues have been mentally rated and categorised in terms of their authenticity, value for money and most importantly, the quality of ingredients sourced. On this occasion we turned to 'Voucher Cloud'* to facilitate our choice and the offer of two main meals for £12 at Zizzi Ristorante was just too good to miss considering that one main meal is typically the best part of a tenner! Now, there are three Zizzi restaurants in Bristol and although I find the atmosphere a little warmer at the Clifton Triangle branch, we were closer to Cabot Circus and so opted to save our legs and visit the Zizzi which is located within the plethora of restaurants that occupy its top-floor space.

From the onset of our visit, service, as always , was efficient and polite although a little formal for my liking. I sometimes feel that servers here are reciting lines from a memorised script and in comparison to neighbouring restaurant Giraffe, where you tend to chat to your server rather than converse, it can feel moderately stuffy.

Onto the food which was served promptly after ordering. The Boy and I had decided to share the two main courses so opted for a pizza and a risotto for a little variety! Pizza Sofia (£9.45) constituted a thin, crisp base which was laden with tasty toppings. The chicken was succulent and wonderfully spiced. It's flavour was also enhanced by the presence of fresh rosemary which shouldn't have worked alongside the more fiery elements to this dish but did! The generously scattered pepperoni provided a rich, oily warmth which, accentuated by the kick of green chillis, was a lovely contrast to the classically refreshing taste of mozzarella. The roasted sausage was a little lacking but all in all, there was so much going on here that the end result was a deliciously flavoursome pizza which certainly satisfied the aforementioned desire for this foodstuff! 
Pizza Sophia
The risotto we chose is a new addition to the Zizzi menu and features the smoky, almost autumnal flavours of pumpkin and pancetta (£11.50). With the well-seasoned nature and salty-twang of the cured meat as well as the herby additions of sage and thyme and the richness of wilted spinach, this dish had levels to its overall flavour which came through in bursts throughout the course of each mouthful. I loved the accompanying marscapone which, stirred through the rice, added swirls of smoothness to contrast its texture. I think the only thing that let this dish down was its presentation and although it can be argued that risotto can be difficult to attractively plate, it did not look overly appetising until I took my first forkful and all was forgiven!
Pumpkin and Pancetta Risotto
The Boy and I did not opt for puddings on this occasion but these are around the £5 mark, (the Mela Croccante (£5.25) was the most tempting in my opinion with apples marinaded in Amaretto liqueur and oven baked with a crumble topping). We washed our main courses down with soft drinks yet a sneaky peek at the wine list found detailed a vast selection of (largely Italian) wines; red white and pink which were costed, I feel, at the higher end of what is to be expected from restaurant pricing. If I had been after an alcoholic accompaniment to my meal, I would have chosen a glass of Prosecco (£4) which described as 'dry, lemony and light', would have particularly accentuated the flavours of the risotto dish.

I enjoyed my visit to Zizzi and it certainly served its purpose of providing The Boy and I with a great-tasting pizza hit, (with the added bonus of discovering a really lovely risotto dish). I can concur with the website's description of the Cabot Circus branch as providing a 'stylish dining experience' though I think perhaps in trying too hard to achieve this, the venue has lost a little of the laid-back atmosphere that Italian eateries are typically famous for. That aside,our visit was suitably pleasant, the food great and for under £15 for drinks and two main meals, you really can't complain!

And now for the second opinion...
The Boy gave Zizzi (Cabot Circus) 8/10 and in three words, chose to describe it as 'reliably tasty Italian'.


**NB. The folk at Spyglass did inform me that their pizza oven would be back up and running within the next couple of weeks and so, I hope to review this venue then.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Living Room, Harbourside-Bristol

Some time ago, I managed to get my hands on a 'Gourmet Society' dining card and I must confess that until now, I hadn't got around to taking advantage of it. During my last visit to The Living Room, a venue which I often frequent for a cocktail or two, I enquired what the possession of this membership would grant me in terms of a discount to the à la carte menu. In response, I was told that diners could have two-for-one dishes for each course, provided that a starter, main and dessert were ordered in each case. The BFF (Best Foodie Friend) and I did the maths, understood the bargain that this deal allowed for and proceeded to book a table....

Date and Time: Saturday 30th April 2011, 17:00
Name of Establishment: The Living Room
Location: Explore Lane, Harbourside, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Taking advantage of two-for-one offer bestowed upon me by 'Gourmet Society' dining card.

The Living Room has a smart and sophisticated demeanour which is apparent even before you set foot inside. The front of the venue is wooden-clad and the outside space is adorned with lounge-style pot-plants as well as high-top tables and chairs – perfect for a spot of alfresco dining or a post-work beverage in the sunshine! The interior extends this air of sophistication; decked with wooden flooring throughout, elegant chrome lighting hung from high ceilings, modern art presented about the space and the focal point – a grand piano which sits nobly to the right of the bar, (I have witnessed some pretty impressive jazz playing in the past too although, on this occasion, the piano was unoccupied). Even visiting the toilets is an experience in itself – I have tried to capture this in the image below but you really need to see them for yourself!
Communal Sinks
The only thing I would suggest as a negative to this open-plan, airy ambiance is that when this venue lacks the presence of other diners it can tend to function as a vacuum, resulting in parties holding almost whispered conversations across the table to one another in order to avoid booming over the subtlety of the low background music!

The food was great overall, yet I think that with a few tweaks here and there it could have been a lot better. I chose the chorizo (£5.55) to start which was presented in a ceramic dish with a generous oiling of red wine and chilli marinade. This was very tasty and the meat was of high-quality with its rich Mediterranean notes. I loved the chilli kick of the drizzle, which, mixed with the spice of the chorizo's own juices and peppery flavour of the incidental rocket salad, deliciously warmed the palate. That said, I would have liked to have been given fresh bread as an accompaniment to this dish as opposed to the over-toasted French stick (masquerading as ciabatta) which was provided instead. This would have made it a lot easier to mop up the remaining marinade which unfortunately, got left in the bottom of the dish. The BFF opted for the tomato, bocconcini mozzarella and pesto bruschetta (£4.25) which she described as 'nice but not mind-blowing' – ingredients were fresh and refreshing, the tomatoes ripe and sweet but there was just something missing that she couldn’t put her finger on. 
Main courses were served promptly, almost as soon as the starters were cleared – these were well presented, piping hot and smelt delicious. BFF opted for the rack of lamb (£16.95) and I ordered the chicken breast (£11.95) which was wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with fresh herbs and mascarpone. I enjoyed this dish – the chicken was moist and the rich tomato flavour of the accompanying arrabiata sauce added a real zing to seasoned new potatoes. I concluded that this dish was deceptively filling although appearing a modest portion upon first look – it actually became a little hard-going as the minimal amount of stuffing did not adequately infuse the flavour of the meat which resulted in a bland finish. Of the lamb, the BFF commented that it wasn't quite pink enough for her palate but was enjoyable nevertheless. The well-cooked additions to this dish – the gratin potato and crisp beans - were also well received.
Rack of Lamb

Putting any criticisms thus far to one side, I have to say that for me, the highlight of the meal was dessert. Upon recommendation, I ordered the chocolate and salted caramel tart (£4.95) which was just divine! The shortcrust pastry was the perfect platform for the layers of sticky indulgence which came above it. This dish could have so easily been too sweet but the balance of flavours had been adhered to expertly so that this was not the case. A delicate dollop of whipping cream and sprig of mint were the only accompaniments as the main attraction was clearly enough in itself. BFF opted for the rhubarb compote which was served with fresh blackberries and sabayon cream (£4.95) – she commented that the dish had not been warmed all the way through, which was a shame as the combination of flavours were well-balanced and nostalgically similar to old-school rhubarb and custard.
Service at The Living Room was prompt, polite and helpful – our server was happy to answer any questions we had but at times, we did feel a little rushed. The BFF and I sat within the mezzanine area of the restaurant so we were also privy to a lot of rushing in and out of the kitchen below. There was also quite a lot of shouting and crashing from downstairs which provoked a couple of apprehensive glances between the two of us!

I think visiting The Living Room seems to be a lot about the experience. I feel that you pay more for the privilege of dining in swanky surroundings and I'm not sure that I would have chosen three courses had I not been using my 'Gourmet Society' dining card. However, I'm glad that I did as I now know that I would return to this venue for the aforementioned tart if for nothing else! It's also important to note here that the cocktail menu is extensively packed with high-quality creations – I recommend the Watermelon Martini which, with Russian Standard vodka and a squeeze of lemon, is as crisp as it is refreshing. Perhaps I’ve been a little harsh in my review of The Living Room and yet, I really feel that if this venue were to make a couple of changes to the delivery of their menu, dining here would be truly exceptional. Other aspects of this establishment are spot-on – there really isn't much work required to bring the substance up to the standard that The Living Room obviously strives to achieve.

And now for the second opinion...
BFF gave The Living Room 7.5/10 and when asked to describe it in three words chose, 'just something missing...'