To my mind, Damson pretty much ticks all the boxes on the list of what you want from your neighbourhood Modern British place. OK, it doesn’t tick the comfortable seating box – the chairs are some of the most awful I’ve experienced – but pretty much all the others are sorted – the menu’s good; there’s deals to be had; there’s a decent wine list, staff are friendly and efficient, prices are reasonable and the chef can cook better than many in the area.
We both went with seafood starters. First up, a well made crab and parsley risotto, the crab more a background seafood flavour than full blown “in yer face”. There was a little sprinkle of cockles on top, which added another flavour layer. I’d gone with the rather oddly titled “Tuna tartare panzanella”. Well, I got the tuna tartare and very nice it was too. Some decent chunks of breads would have been nice and, indeed, would have been panzanella but there was only a scattering of crumbs which did little for a texture change. Some chopped tomatoes and peppers in there as well and a few crisply fried squid rings. The advertised black olive puree came as a pointless paintbrush smear round the side of the bowl but, that apart, this was a nice enough dish.
Goosnargh duck breast came perfectly pink and sat on a bed of shredded cabbage and some puy lentils, all moistened with a touch of cream sauce. This was good and about as classic a Modern Brit plate as you’d want to come across. Served separately, a bowl of “fat chips” – I usually moan about why places can’t serve chip-sized chips but I won’t on this occasion, as the chips were good.
Poached cod was less of a success. Fish was well cooked but the herbiness of the herb crust was very muted. The grain mustard sauce didn’t work. There was an odd sweetness to it and with no real discernible flavour of mustard, it just wasn’t very nice. Wilted spinach and new potatoes were good accompaniments.
We passed on dessert – nothing on the menu spoke to us.
I mentioned there were deals to be had. As well as the main menu that we’d eaten from, there’s a set menu, offering three courses for £18.95 – runs all evening on Monday (finishes at 6.30 other nights). And, on Tuesdays, the £45 tasting menu is reduced to £25. We’ll be back to try both of these.