We returned to Stanley for a few days recently mainly to eat at this restaurant which had been fantastic a couple of years ago when it had different owners. It still sources good beef and lamb locally but the way the produce is used is not even pub standard. It also tasted as if some ingredients were pre-packaged or canned. For instance my Asian noodle soup had no hint of Asian flavours. It was a clear broth like Campbells packets, containing noodles accompanied by a small bowl of dried onion flakes, again from perhaps a Mclintock's shaker? Where were the Asian greens eg bokchoy, herbs eg coriander, spices eg 5 spice powder or star anise (if Chinese) or lime, chilli (if creating a Thai style)? My partner's gnocchi were equally disappointing-soft and flavourless he reported.
My lamb was nice and cooked rare, as I like it, but the crumbs were soggy. A good cook would know to cook high and fast would result in rare meat and crisp crumb topping. The accompanying salad again showed that lack of understanding and passion for food. It was a small bowl of mainly endive, with brown ends, plastered in a zig-zag pattern of mayonnaise from a squeeze bottle-again off the shelf, no interesting vinaigrette as these prices should bring. My partner's duck was reasonable but again that lack of understanding of flavours. The satay sauce, tasting as out of a can, was unpleasant and hid the flavour of the duck. I'm afraid it appears as if the cook is one out of a pub 20-30 years ago when all that was expected was mixed grills. The kitchen staff would benefit from education and interest in today's food and consumer habits. Also the maître de/current owner would learn from his customers' experiences if he ASKED their opinions, not simply joke/make statements "well you'r e getting into that". The wine list was probably the only good point of the night. However to capitalise on the list, the staff need to know about the wine. It was terrific that the young waitress said she'd transfer our question to someone else who would know...........but he (the said maître de) didn't know enough about wine to be the 'expert' on hand.
We are very happy to pay a fair amount for a good meal but the food at the local pub is far better. This restaurant needs a wake-up call. If it purports to be "fine dining" it needs a change in management and cook.
This is very unfortunate for Stanley as a place as it has great cafes like Touchwood and Chin Wag who earn their good reputation.
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