Monday, March 11, 2013

The Fountain Inn, Tenbury - review

I had a Mother's Day dinner at the Fountain Inn at Tenbury with a family group. Obviously a special menu set, but how was it? Sadly I didn't get a chance to photograph the menu so I need to run from memory on the items I didn't have

To begin a large enough table space with sharp and matching cutlery. We all had our own drinks and didn't require the glasses, but weren't offered a bottle or for the glasses to be removed out of the way. In the end they didn't really get in the way so not the hassle they could have been. There was some delay between our sitting and the taking of the order and ordering was only for the first two courses. I enjoy some delay, nothing worse than being asked as soon as you've opened the menu, but this was a little excessive. I'll be generous and allow them the busy-ness of dealing with multiple rooms and tables. A standard delay before the food was presented.

Starters. A choice of - Chicken and sweetcorn soup; House pate; prawns and something; Spicy duck and apple; minted melon and grapes; and a couple of others. I had the duck.

Ah this was nice duck. Sliced thinly, browned with a rosy interior and a spicy, but not overpowering, thin crust. Served on a long plate with a heap of leafs and apple sticks. A good rich taste of duck. However a minor blemish lay with the jus dressing - mustard. Apple by itself is a sharp taste, mustard by itself can be a sharp taste; combine the two and only one wins - in this case the mustard. In this instance though the reason was twofold - the mustard was sharp and the apple was weak. Even trying a piece of duck and apple without the dressing there was almost no taste of apple. For that reason alone was the dressing welcome, and fortunately not as liberally poured as I've had elsewhere.

For the others, the pate was served in a dish in the same de rigueur massive quantity as I've come to expect, the only benefit being the additional roll offered to all supplemented the toast halves. Dark and rough, but not overly so it appeared to be chicken liver. The chicken and sweetcorn didn't wow and the sweetcorn was on the (mini) cob; which is not a favourite of mine. The minted melon and grape was allegedly not over minted.

Main course - Pork; cod; Chicken, leek, bacon, and spinach roulade with a herb sauce;  and again a couple of others. I had the roulade.

Unusually the plates with the meat were served before the side plates of vegetables arrived. Nothing wrong per se, but perceptually it meant staring at the 'main' part of our main course without being able to do anything. At least with the side dishes out one can judge how much of each one desires and juggle them around for better access which shortens the perceptual delay. Enough side dishes between the group, but we discovered only one pair of salt and pepper holders between us all. Side dishes were boiled, and roast potatoes, carrots, red cabbage, and peas. Some thin sliced onions or plain cabbage would have been nice.

The roulade was about fist shaped and the meat fell apart gracefully. Plenty of herb sauce; at first I thought too much, but that may well have been a consequence of staring at it. By the meal's end there was little left; a good sign that the quantity was well-judged. The boiled potatoes were large and had a potato taste beyond that of the dressing. The roast potatoes turned out to be, surprisingly, roast potatoes rather than jacket potatoes in a crispy skin. For once the oil had been allowed to penetrate and they were moist if not as fluffy as they could have been. The carrots were crisp, but not hard, the red cabbage was a little weak to my taste, the peas were pea-ey, the herb sauce went well with everything.

Ah but the chicken was a minor disappointment. Chicken can be a delicate taste and mixed with leek and spinach and bacon and the herb sauce it seemed to provide little except a differing texture. Just a tad dry, but mitigated by the sauce the leek still dominated the overall taste. I'd have expected the bacon to add to the saltiness and bring out the chicken, but there was nothing there and impossible to add my own without enhancing the other, already strong, flavours.

Puddings - Eton Mess; profiteroles with toffee sauce; and various others. I chose the Eton Mess.

Sadly this was the biggest disappointment for me. The first hint of wrongness came as it was served in a knickerbocker glory style glass. By itself this would not have been too much of a problem if the meringue pieces were cut smaller and it hadn't been layered. As presented  it was nigh-on impossible to reduce the larger chunks of meringue and halfway through all that was left was cream and fruit with little ability to mix the differing textures within the narrow glass. Another disappointment awaited me once I reached the majority of the fruit, traditionally strawberry this was dominated by raspberry.

Like so much of this meal not a problem itself, but raspberries can be quite tart and require a mollifier to cut through the astringency, in this instance that would have been the meringue that I'd had to eat through to reach them. The cream did aid in this regard, but not enough. This would have been far better served as a layer of fruit, semi-thick cream and with either a whole meringue or chunks there off on top in a dish.

I dipped a finger into a neighbour's toffee sauce and found that much more to my liking, more butterscotch sweetness over toffee though.

At the last - coffee. Ordered either white or black, but presented with a shortage of spoons for sugar. I asked for some more and waited. After some time we ended up sharing spoons and after we'd all finished an additional brace were delivered. The coffee came with the obligatory mint, but with an extra little chocolate egg. Both of mine had partially melted thanks to a minor spillage of the coffee into the saucer when being set down. Seriously what is the need to fill coffee cups to the very brim? It's not done with the soup. The coffee was the same slightly too-bitter taste that seems to be the norm nowadays, but not as bad as some.

Overall - mediocre. Nothing to shout stay away from, nothing to wholly enthuse over either.