Everything I’d read about the Church Green had put me off going but, eventually, it just became one of those places that we had to try, as it’s only a few minutes from home. We so wanted it to be really good – great food, immaculate service, lovely setting. And it didn’t come too far short on any of these counts. But it did come short.
In truth, the room’s a bit grim. A mix of furnishing and decoration styles that don’t really come together and a feeling that the dining room has been bolted on to a pub, in a sort of prissy version of a Beefeater. Service was decidedly mixed – one guy was warm, friendly, engaging and knowledgable – an asset to the organisation. On the other hand, the woman taking our order should have been repeatedly stabbed with a fork until she stopped saying “no problem”. Of course it’s no problem, you’re a f**king restaurant and I’m ordering off your menu.
There was a porky amuse - a cube of belly pork, a ball of rillette, some apple sauce. Apparently, they used to serve a larger version as a starter. They should start again – it was excellent. In fact, put it on as a main course
As to menu dishes, they were not bad. A bit underwhelming. A bit underseasoned. A bit not hot enough on the plate. And a bit long before it came. Oh, and a bit overpriced.
They were also a bit not quite as described on the menu. So, for instance, gnocchi, with Jerusalem artichokes and chestnut sauce also came with Parma ham. Which would have been a bugger if you’d ordered it as the only available vegetarian starter. As it happens, I’m not, so I quite enjoyed it – particularly the chestnut sauce which was rich with a nice hint of sweetness.
Risotto came with the advertised red pepper and with a cod beignet. The chorizo that was advertised as being in the risotto was another beignet and it wasn’t an improvement. Perhaps more than the other plate, this suffered from not being quite hot enough. Not bad enough to send back and bugger up dinner completely – but not right at this level.
Mains were much better. Texel lamb with figs, black olives and basil – great tasting meat (some loin, a little bit of some long cooked bit), figs bringing a seasonal sweetness. Poached chicken was the other main. Came with a “chicken lasagne” – nice concept – layers of chicken mousse and very thin pasta, pressed together. It would be polite to describe this as “delicately flavoured”.
None of the desserts floated our boat so we ordered cheese – three localish ones. And, in a spot of thoughtfulness, we were each given a different one so in total we had four to taste. Most had actually spent some time out of the fridge before being plated. Some biscuits, chutney and nicely dressed salad completed it.
So, there we are. We’ve eaten at this much hyped place. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good. It certainly wasn’t as bad as we thought it might be. And it certainly wasn’t as good as it probably likes to think of itself. But it gave us a lot to talk about on the way home.