I found the Bingham through TopTable and it appealed to me on a number of levels. I liked the look of the menu – lots of it made perfect sense. As a matter of regional pride, like myself, the chef is a Cestrian. He was also trained by north western uberchef, Paul Heathcote – itself a plus point in my book. But what appealed most was the 50% discount available for bookings made through Top Table. So, let me get this sorted straight away – my three course dinner cost just £17.25 (plus drinks & service).
An amuse – shrimp and asparagus salad, over which was poured shot glass of gazpacho. A couple of parmesan gougeres sat alongside. This all worked even though the gazpacho was not to Andalucian standards, of course.
Good bread then arrived. 4 slices & softened butter. I wolfed the lot and was offered more (declined).
Starter – lemon sole, spiced lentils, seared scallop, orange vinaigrette. A few sprigs of samphire provided crunch. Fab sole. Just cooked scallop. The vinaigrette bringing it all together contrasting with the earthy lentils yet complementing the sweetness of the scallop. Really good dish – well thought through, well cooked, well presented. I liked. I liked a lot.
Main – saddleback pork – crispy cheek, perfectly cooked to medium loin, no sign of the advertised black pudding – but a small but seriously braised bit of shoulder (?). Small beans (unsure what sort – aduki?) in a tangy BBQ gravy (not sauce!). Smoked potato – although my palate couldn’t detect any smokiness. This was another really enjoyable plate.
Dessert – yoghurt & mascarpone cheesecake, gingerbread base. Was OK. But only OK. Better was the fig ripple ice cream – nice chewy bits of fig run through the ice cream. Tiny cubes of Earl Grey jelly were a bit pointless. I’m not big on desserts and this dish is just confirms to me why.
Service was chaotic in the bar. I had to ask for a menu. I had to ask to be seated in the restaurant. However, once in there, it was absolutely fine. Quite formal service – befitting the fact the restaurant is in a “boutique hotel”. I liked the fact that, throughout, I was addressed as Mr Hartley and not just as “sir” – some careful customer orientated service going on there.
This was easily my best value for money meal for absolutely ages. Get your table booked now before they either go bust or stop offering this deal. It cannot last!