Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A whiter shade of pale

Bankside is a place H and I had previously had bookings for but had to cancel due to various changes in plans and have never got to eat here. But I was walking past today mightily hungry and thought it'd be worth checking out. The restaurant and bar are underground but it wasn't at all dingy, there's bright artwork on the walls and acres of pale wood tables, a single orange flower at each table and crispy linen napkins.

Most of the tables are for two but there are a few big oval tables and curvy light suede banquettes for sharing.

The menu is very simple, just three different prices with a couple of supplements if the dish contains a particularly extravagant ingredient. This is a curious note in very small print that states that - "a complimentary selection of fresh organic wholesome bread is served on your arrival". Now this struck me as odd. Had they previously worried diners into believing they'd be charged exorbitant rates for the basket of wheaty comestibles? Did they fear that their clients wouldn't recognise it as wholesome or be alarmed at this wild custom of proffering bread at the beginning of a meal? All a mystery but the bread was very lovely with seeds and fruity bits.

The menu was labelled a summer menu and has quite an extensive 'best of British' section with Cumberland sausages and mash, fisherman's our, big pork chop with mustard mash and apple fritters, salmon fishcakes, a couple of chicken dishes, calves liver, fish and chips, Welsh lamb chop and Scottish rib eye steak. I plumped for Smoked Haddock and Poached Egg on Spring Onion Potato Cake with Rarebit Glaze. I amazed myself by eschewing mash potatoes but funnily enough the potato cake turned out to be really spring onion mash in the shape of a potato cake! I ordered a side order of Cauliflower Cheese -clearly I was on a comfort food bender. And it was very comforting and pale and interesting also. The haddock was thankfully undyed and hence pale and translucent on top of pale mash sorry potato cake. On top of that was a poached egg that remained almost invisible until I exposed its golden centre. The cauliflower was of course just off white and the cheese sauce equally pale. If it wasn't for a few green leaves it would have been a plate of whiteness. However it tasted really good, an effortless thing to eat, complete nursery food I guess. And I loved the rarebit glaze which was more of a sauce than a glaze but very yummy!

I am so used to sharing a dessert now, but even though it was just me I fancied a few mouthfuls of something sweet. One of the desserts was Mrs Bourne Cheshire cheese with sweet beer chutney, which sounded very English, but I selected the Dark Chocolate and Walnut Brownie with Ice Cream. The brownie was okay but the ice cream was a bit of a mystery. I could see it was streaked with pink and had an occasional fruity nugget but I couldn't really identify it. I knew I didn't really like it and I asked my friendly waitress to put me out of my misery and she did by informing me that it was 'sour cherry'. Personally, I'm not sure that it worked well with the brownie.

I thought Bankside was very pleasant, I would eat there again but I wouldn't bother with the sour cherry ice cream and I've given it one white fork.

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