In a desperate attempt to not visit Sexy Mamma Love Spaghetti for the third Saturday in a row, we treated ourselves to the set lunch menu at Hart’s on Standard Hill. They offer 2 courses for £19 or 3 for £24, a bit more than we’d normally pay elsewhere but, based on previous visits, it’s worth it occasionally.
For starters, I went for the ham hock terrine and Emily chose the cauliflower cheese soup. Our food arrived after a very long 45 minute wait – our waitress explained that she’d forgotten to pass our order to the chef. A bit annoying as we had somewhere to be but she was very apologetic about it and removed the compulsory service charge from the bill.
My ham hock terrine was simply amazing.
I’ve never eaten a terrine that was so packed full of flavour. It was complemented by pickled fennel, a micro herb salad, Bloody Mary sauce and the tiniest quails egg you ever did see. Best of all though we’re little puffs of pig skin. These tiny morsels of pork scratching worked so well with the terrine and gave the whole dish the crunch that it needed. Top marks from me so far.
Emily’s soup was nice but didn’t blow us away.
It was well seasoned, creamy, smooth and served with a tiny grilled cheese sandwich. There wasn’t however the taste of cauliflower, really – heavy on the cheese and cream flavours. Emily has had the cauliflower cheese soup and truffle doughnut at The Black Bull in Blidworth and declared it the best soup ever made – sorry Hart’s, although enjoyable the battle of the cauli soup was won by The BB hands down.
For my main course, I really fancied the guinea fowl but was dismayed when I saw that it was served with a risotto made with butternut squash, which we all know is the devil’s food. So instead, I went for the fillet of haddock served with spiced quinoa, tomato and chilli salsa with broccoli. Emily ordered the guinea fowl dish as the unholy orange devil vegetable is apparently quite enjoyable to her.
My dish arrived looking so inviting, all the bright colours and smells immediately made my mouth water.
The fish and broccoli sat atop the brightly coloured salsa on a bed of curried quinoa. The fish was cooked beautifully with lovely crispy skin and it flaked away when I cut into it – just how you’d want it to be served. The salsa tasted so fresh that the tomato and red onion zinged in my mouth and the spicy quinoa, while not being overly hot, added aromatic spice and substance to the dish. The broccoli was also really fresh and well cooked – another great plate of food.
Emily’s guinea fowl dish was also excellent.
It’s a tricky thing to keep game birds moist but the breast meat was juicy and tender. It turns out I didnt have anything to worry about with my distaste of butternut squash as the risotto didn’t taste like it – it seems it was used for creaminess and a touch of sweetness. The cavelo nero added a lovely bitterness and we need talk about the sauce. The guinea fowl jus was delicious – big and bold with a rich guinea fowl flavour. Wow, it packed a punch. The only criticism Emily had is that the dish was very much on the salty side. Fine for some, but it could have been better without so much seasoning.
Although I loved my haddock dish I must admit to getting food envy while I watched Emily eat her main course. I tasted a few mouthfuls and it was exceptional (and didn’t taste of butternut squash at all. Dammit).
So, overall you pay a bit extra at Hart’s but the extra money spent is right there on the plate. We only ever eat off the set lunch menu as it would be a special occasion treat to eat from anything other. Maybe one day we can return to eat from the a la carte menu (Emily, I have a birthday coming up – hint, hint).
Overall score: 8/10
Atmosphere and surroundings: 8/10
Emily & Stuart