|Beets with goat's cheese|
Tuesday saw our team dinner, which often flounders on the food front – not least because such affairs are largely about the socialising.
This time, one of our number had booked for the Copper Clam on the seafront, another of the town’s new eateries.
Temporarily faced by hoardings as the refurbishment and redevelopment of the seafront continues, we were shown to a very nice upstairs room that had been set for our group.
|Cod in a buttery, sweet sauce|
However, having spent all day in a darkened conference centre, being outside was absolutely key – not least in hot weather.
The staff dealt with this change from our booking with alacrity and good humour, and we sat down outside with our first drinks.
While imbibing a very pleasant rosé, we enjoyed whatever we’d pre-ordered on a very good deal.
In my case, it was a prawn cocktail to start, with serious prawns rather than the pink tiddlers sort you’d usually expect in this retro dish.
And no avocado in sight.
As only a slight aside, I used to like avocado – and I know how to de-stone one without giving myself an injury – but in recent years I’ve found them too sweet. Perhaps the decline in my liking has a direct relationship to how hip they have become?
|Wine glass; chilled wine|
Anyway, back to The Copper Clam.
Everyone had opted for sea bass to follow – and it is indicative of the quality of the kitchen, that over a dozen people could be served such a dish at the same time and without quality being compromised.
This was decent fish, well cooked – moist and tasty – and the right sort of portion for an evening where the socialising was the main thing (and hence the reason for no photos).
The staff are very friendly – and our waiter was particularly deft at spotting an empty win bottle that might need replacing.
|Sea bass and salad|
Twenty four hours later, in need of a quieter experience, we decided to try the bistro at Hotel du Vin on Ship Street.
Revamped last autumn and pulling in appreciative noises, we got a table outside in the courtyard – a pleasantly peaceful environment that felt as though it were miles from the hubbub of the promenade that was, in fact, just a few metres away.
After enjoying a glass of Nyetimber – an interesting English fizz – it was time to see what the food was like.
First up for me was salt-baked beetroot with whipped goat’s cheese, sumac, Greek yogurt and Melba toast.
Looking beautiful, it had plenty going for it. The beet was warm and tender, while the other ingredients lent various degrees of sharpness to the dish.
The Other Half had ordered soft-boiled duck egg with asparagus soldiers, which came on a wooden block that had clearly been designed for just such a dish, with once large dimple to hold the egg and a smaller one for the salt.
It was apparently very tasty – and for once, the slightly fussy way of serving it worked.
Most of the time, simple plates are more than adequate – even if that goes against the current fad for presentation demanding all sorts of ‘quirky’ alternatives to plates, which add absolutely nothing to the food.
|Amaretto over ice|
Next up for me was butter-poached cod with lyonnaise potatoes, smoked salmon and a hispi cabbage sauce – enough sauce, indeed, that it was served in a bowl.
A very sweet, rich dish, the cod was moist and flaked beautifully.
The Other Half opted for more sea bass – this time, with a panzanella salad and nasturtium pesto.
I finished with a lime cheesecake with meringue and dice of elderflower jelly, while The Other Half settled for ice cream.
The service was very pleasant, although we had quite a wait for dessert. But the setting made that bearable – and even allowed for a touch of dinnertime macro still life photography.
This is good food, well presented and served in a very pleasant setting.
Altogether, another welcome addition to a growing list of decent eateries in this south coast town.
To find out more, visit Hotel du Vin and Bistro.