Situated up on Standard Hill in the city centre, Hart’s will do you a great meal – no doubt about it. Although a great place for special occasions due to its reputation for excellent food, Hart’s makes its higher-end fare a little more accessible with a generous set lunch menu (that is available on Saturdays too! Yay!)
The set menu is £19 for two courses and £24 for three. It still sounds a little pricey, but the quality justifies spending a little more, in our opinion.
We were seated and offered drinks and a choice of freshly made (still warm!) bread. We both had the balsamic bread over the wholewheat or white, which was interesting and yummy.
On to the food, we both made exactly the same menu choices:
Beetroot, goat’s cheese and apple salad
The tangy pickle of the red and white beetroot was balanced beautifully with the salty, creamy goat’s cheese and sweet apple textures. The balsamic vinegar and peppery watercress added a savoury punch to remind you that this definitely is a salad and not a dessert. Very sweet, but balanced well.
We really enjoyed this and both gave it an 8/10.
Pan-fried hake fillet with saffron, spring onion and broccoli risotto
The biggest thing to note about the main course is that every element was cooked to perfection – the rice and broccoli were al dente, the hake was flaky and moist with beautifully crispy skin and the spring onions in the risotto still had a delightful crunch. The big flavours in the risotto were delicious, With mini sundried tomatoes adding an extra burst of tang to cut through the creaminess. A really, really tasty dish.
If we had to criticise anything, it was a touch on the salty side and the delicate hake was in danger of being lost to the bold risotto at times.
We both gave this dish an 8/10
Vanilla panacotta and raspberry sorbet
Now, you can get very good panacotta and very bad panacotta with a stark difference in quality between the two. Luckily, this is a good panacotta – the best in fact. We both said this dish was the highlight of the meal and it was simply superb. Far from the over-set, gelatinous white globs that I’ve come to know and fear, this panacotta had a delightful wobble with a deliciously smooth, creamy texture and intense vanilla flavour. The quenelle of tart raspberry sorbet and the sweet raspberry sauce were the perfect accompaniment, as was the buttery crumb which gave this pud a much appreciated cheesecakey quality. We regretted sharing a pudding as we both could have eaten much more – it was spoon wars over the bowl!
We both gave it a 9/10
All in all, this was a great meal that reminded us why Hart’s is on our list of places that we will continually go back to. I’m so glad they’ve bought back their Saturday set lunch menu as it means we can afford to go a little more regularly.
The service was impeccable throughout, so the automatic tip of 12.5% wasn’t disputed by us – though a bit steep, it was deserved.
Something to note about Hart’s is that the wine is very expensive, so if you save a bob or two on the set menu, a bottle of nice wine can easily double the bill. Having said this, you can get a small glass of house red or white for around £4.95, but most wines you have to buy the bottle which makes the ‘by glass’ menu rather limited. Great for wine buffs though, if you don’t mind splashing out. We just had a cheeky lime and soda instead this time!
Overall score: 8/10
Atmosphere and surroundings: 8
Emily and Stuart