With Sarah having a family that seems larger than the cast of Family Guy, it’s no surprise that I’m continuing to meet family members for the first time. With busy schedules seeming to run a common theme, our first few attempts were dashed. However, last Tuesday, the food plates aligned, and we were off to get our eat on.
Throwing a few suggestions out to Sarah, we finally decided on The Dish & Runaway Spoon. With it’s Secret Garden, and focus on local fare, this bistro-style restaurant was one I’d been meaning to visit for some time. The clouds were playing nice when we arrived, and parted long enough for us to partake in the glory that is the secret garden. However, even before our drinks, or Aunty Sue arrived for that matter, the rain was back and we soon shuffled inside.
The restaurant was quiet, and remained as such for most of the night with only a couple tables filling up. As we sat down, Aunty Sue pulled up, and we were soon skimming the small menu. Offering a handful of entrees, basic salads, and a short list sharable style plates you might not necessarily find something for everyone but you will notice a slight play on the typical; think sweet potato shepherds pie and gourmet mac and cheese.
Aunty Sue gave the server a run for his money, as she asked the typical, what’s good question. The response was a list that soon become almost every dish on the menu. Seriously, you like everything? Even if you do, pick the best! Narrowing it down to two possibilities, the server informed us the crab cakes are not hand made, and are in fact brought it, which made the decision a lot simpler. Swiss Shrimp Melt it was. Arriving open-faced, the two mounds of shrimp were larger than expected and spiced just right according to Aunty Sue.
Sarah decided to order off the daily specials, and ended up with Wild Boar Bacon Flatbread. Just another name for pizza in my books, this flatbread seemed to have multiple personalities as the dough was a mix of stiff and soft crust. A shame really, because I think the crust quotient of this kind of meal is just as important as the toppings. Which by the way, seemed to wash out any bacon flavour, let alone wild boar. The rest of the toppings were a mix of intrigue, what with everything topped by goat cheese and pineapple.
With the cooler weather, and my damp clothes, I decided to warm up with the Rustic Lamb Stew. The bun, which looked pretty darn sexy, was non-descript and but did a great job at soaking up the sauce. I really thought I was onto a killer dish as the first two cubes of lamb melted in my mouth but I was dismayed to find the next two pieces quite chewy. The vegetables showed similar qualities as the potato was harder than I would like, and the carrots were impossible to pick up with my fork. There was a lot of potential in this dish, as it held all the necessary components, but I wonder if my bowl was a mix of two different pots.
Dessert was next, and I can’t tell you how strange it was to have a dessert tray show up. I haven’t seen this style of display in years. I know that some people like to have a good look at their choices, but some sad and not fully ‘dressed’ offerings doesn’t really entice me. The choice at the table was unanimous, and we soon had a warm Sticky Toffee Pudding. Not overly sweet, this rich date sponge cake, came topped with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipping cream, and toffee drizzle. A very nice way to finish the meal.
With the restaurant being so quiet, it turned out to be perfect place to meet. The mix of comforting, although not daring, food, provided a welcoming back drop for this first-time family introduction. The service was spotty for the first half of our meal, but turned around in the end almost becoming considerably more likable as the night grew to a close. I can’t say I’d be drawn back for anything in particular, but if I ever find myself hungry and near by, I wouldn’t hesitate to stop in and warm up again.