A first night review by Jane Hamilton:
Stepping into the calm of Rick Stein Marlborough on Saturday night (October 8) was a welcome escape from the lights and sounds of the Mop Fair in full swing. The bar is a small, but elegant delight, and our senses were further soothed by the unusual gin & tonics recommended by James the knowledgeable Head Barman.
Pinkster Gin with a garnish of dehydrated raspberries was a fragrant winner. Twisted Nose, a watercress based gin was also a winner (although the watercress garnish had apparently been ‘borrowed’ by the chef.)
The restaurant is made up of several dining areas on the ground and first floor all decorated in elegant dark wood with greys and blues. We were shown to our table at the back of the ground floor. A board of warm bread and bottle of fruity olive oil for dipping were swiftly delivered followed by a seared tuna amuse bouche, a delicious fishy morsel.
The wine list is extensive, but we chose to try the Spanish red and white that bear the Rick Stein name. Both were very enjoyable – an easy and reliable choice at £24.
This is not just a fish restaurant and there is an excellent selection for non-fish eaters, but we were here for a piscine feast. Between the four of us we chose four different starters: crab linguine got a big thumbs up as did a warm mackerel salad.
Tuna carpaccio was excellent although the flavours would have benefited from being a little less chilled. The squid and chorizo was a little light on chorizo, perhaps as we were quite late in the evening there had been a run on this most favourite dish.
Megan, our server, looked after us beautifully. You could see the opening night nerves from the staff, but other than the occasional dropped glass everything seemed to be running to order.
When our main courses arrived, the Bouillabaisse was a showstopper with rock star looks but sadly the bisque was a bit of a let-down, lacking depth of flavour. Hake with spinach and beurre blanc was not blessed with dramatic good looks but delivered highly on flavour.
Two of us had the Indonesian fish curry – the absolute star of the show as far as we were both concerned. Sea bass, prawns and squid in a fragrant coconut curry sauce – accompanied by two side orders of steamed rice and – best of all – crunchy green beans dressed with a scattering of sautéed garlic, shallot, chilli and coconut.
One shared-between-four pudding of Riz au Lait (rice pudding) with caramelised pineapple and a well thought out cheese board with Rick Stein crackers were an excellent way to end the meal.
All in all, in a week that saw Marlborough mourn the closing of Coles, I think we can be very happy that there is a new kid in town…one, of course, with a great track record elsewhere in restaurant-land.
Saturday, October 8: Little Mop Fair – the view from the top of the Ferris wheel – photo by Marlborough resident Peter Greenbank – our thanks to him