I haven’t blogged my dining out for a while. This is partly due to it being the holiday season, and being away, and partly due to being a lazy mare who “just hasn’t got round to it”. So last Saturday, we decided to try City Cafe at the City Inn. It’s a bit tricky to find – under the dark arches, down through the dark tunnel and then out the other end. There sits the Hop pub (had a drink, nice) and the City Inn.
I have read about the City Cafe – in fact Jay Rayner did a review a month or so ago in the Observer. My dining companion was Psycho Psu and we decided to make the best of the last few days of summer by sitting outside. The tables were actually outside the hotel bar, and we were brought a bar menu, but we asked for the restaurant menu as it was this we were here to try. We didn’t go in the restaurant inside but it looked quiet for Saturday lunchtime. Given its location, this is probably not that surprising, although there were plenty of people sitting on the terrace.
The cheapest Pinot Grigio was £27 (memories of Petrus came flooding back). It was actually a blush, which is one of my current favourites, so with a bit of a wince, we ordered it. *
For starter, I ordered Roast wood pigeon and onion tart. This is not so much a tart, as a piece of thin pastry that the pigeon sits on. Wood pigeon is a new one for me and I found it fairly gamey with a similar flavour to liver! The dish came with a piece of bacon, a quail egg, and pea puree. There was quite a lot going on on the plate, in fact, but I kind of like that! Lots of flavours and textures in one dish.
Psycho Psu had Smoked mackerel with ham hock potato cake. She reported the fish good, but the cake was rather lacking in flavour.
For main course I ordered the Herb crust rump of lamb. This was served with a “lamb cannelloni” which turned out to be a sort-of pancake, stuffed with shredded lamb. I liked it. The dish also came with greens and the now-obligatory pea puree.
Psycho Psu had paella, with seatrout, mussels and chorizo.
I couldn’t resist the cheese plate, to follow the meal. The portion-for-one at £3.50 is much more realistic and better value than your average cheese plate which I would say normally comes in about £6-7. Brie, cheddar and Yorkshire blue were served, with oatcakes.
Psycho Psu had the Chocolate and pecan tart with banana ice-cream. This worked really well with a mix of flavours.
We finished with an Espresso Martini each – they weren’t on the menu but the barman obliged! In fact the staff as a whole were excellent – really good, friendly service. This place is a bit out of the way, and when I think of hotel food, I often think of crap warmed-up or deep-fried food eaten on a plastic table, but the City Cafe and the City Inn is nothing like that. An interesting menu, a lovely setting by the canal, and great service. It really is worth a visit.
*There is a great Pinot Grigio blush on offer in Asda at the moment – 3 bottles for £12. This deal has got me through the summer!