Luncheon Meat

Happy New Year!  I haven't abandoned you but the Christmas period left me exhausted.  Mamma Bites put on a fantastic spread and frankly I couldn't face writing about food after all that!

Luckily I've recovered from the festive gluttony and the blog is back in business.

I say luckily but Friday 13th meant more superstitious types were barricading themselves into their homes for fear of seeing a black cat.... or something.  I on the other hand was striding out into the city centre in search of a good lunch and had my sights set on The Meating Place, part of The Chameleon Group which owns The Potted Pig amongst others.  With this knowledge it would be fair to say expectations were high.

Occupying the site of the former Porto's restaurant, the interior has kept the rustic beams and added some mirrors to enhance the light in an otherwise dingy room, along with some rather arty black and white photographs - the whole effect was rather juxtaposed but somehow worked, though I'm not entirely sure you'd be able to see your meal of an evening.

They've also kept the hanging racks which were synonymous with its previous incarnation and the a la carte menu boasts several skewers which will be cooked and served suspended from the ceiling.

As it was a little past one we opted for the lunch menu which, at £9.90 each for 2 courses, seemed reasonable.  I ordered a Clam, Chorizo and Butter-bean soup to start, whilst my partner opted for the Salmon Gravlax.  The soup was warming - sweet little clams in a rich tomato broth with spikes of paprika from the chorizo worked beautifully.  My only complaint is that it was somewhat spoiled by the beans which, instead of being smooth and creamy, were somewhat hard and felt gritty on the palate.  The salmon was pleasant, served with a cream cheese mousse and crushed pistachios.  The mousse was surprisingly sharp, cutting against the dill cured salmon but the nuts were a nice touch.

Onto the mains and they couldn't have been more different.  My partner's Fried Sea bass was served with crushed new potatoes.  Disappointingly there was not a trace of the lemon butter advertised and the small portion of fish was overcooked, leaving the potatoes the highlight of the meal.  By comparison my Beefburger was a monster.  A fat chargrilled beef patty served in a chargrilled bun with chargrilled bacon, cheese and tomato (which may or may not have been chargrilled) and some fat chips.  It was HUGE and made the portion of sea bass look even more ridiculous.  I tucked in to find a well seasoned burger and crispy bacon with juicy tomato slices - though the chargrill somewhat overwhelmed the flavours, leaving everything with a slightly burnt taste.  The chips were pleasantly fluffy inside but lacked the outer crunch of a decent chip.  A shame because they looked the part - a potato basically quartered and the ends blunted off.  It was more like a roast potato and I wonder if they'd been reheated in the oven rather than fried.  The good news is that despite their size, they did retain their heat.

Overall, whilst this wasn't a bad meal, it did leave us feeling somewhat deflated.  Everything was pleasant but nothing really shone.  We're considering visiting for the a la carte menu (come on, who doesn't want their dinner suspended from a ceiling) but will be giving the lunch a wide berth.


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