I've always been rather fond of the
Trago Lounge in Portswood. The main day-to-day menu is functional, but
what made it special was the quality of the Specials Menu. It changed
monthly and my partner and I would spend sunday afternoons, eating fine food
and reading the Sundays.
For various reasons, we missed last
months specials, so were really looking forward to this weeks sojourn.
What a disappointment. I can't
believe this is the same chef that floored me with the black pudding
spectacular a couple of months back.
What was listed as Roasted Ham Hock,
Mashed turnip and buttered cabbage with a mustard sauce was, on the face of it,
just that. The problem was that it was *only that*. The ham hock
was wasted by being undercooked and - tragedy of tragedies - had no crispy
crackling, rather a flaccid and visually unappealing skin; the buttered cabbage
was virtually raw and cold; the mashed turnip was potato and possibly cheese,
either way it was unpleasant, and the sauce appeared to be made with lamb stock
and rosemary. No mustard in sight.
What seemed quite telling was that where
normally the staff are usually chatty and come to see if everything is okay
several times throughout the meal, we saw no one. Some surly guy dumped
the food on our table and ran.
My partners food was equally
disappointing. A Salt Marsh lamb hotpot should have been a thing of joy,
but it was thin insipid and flavourless. With four minuscule pieces of
lamb, under cooked turnip and a wealth of potatoes, (for £12!!) this was not a
triumph. Ironically, my 'mustard sauce' tasted more of lamb than the lamb
hotpot and why it was served with potatoes when the main constituent of the
hotpot was potato anyway is baffling.
Trago used to be capable of such wonders
but this left an appalling taste in the mouth, literally and figuratively.
We would have complained but the staff were nowhere to be seen.
Now, a steamed sponge pudding is a thing
of beauty, as is the magnificent Bakewell Pudding but someone - probably the same guy who
thought langoustines on a starry gazy pie was a good idea - thought it would be
a splendid wheeze to meld the two for no real discernible reason. What
might have been a triumph turned into something fascinatingly awful.
Take a sponge pudding, flavour it with
almonds, stud it with some cherries that aren't maraschino but taste as weirdly
artificial, smother it with raspberry jam and then steam. Then freeze.
Then microwave until it's just on the point of burning in its centre and
the top has become so dry and crunchy it's *almost* pastry.
Turn out onto a dish that's way too big
and serve - and here is the final insult - with a minuscule jug of chilled
Now any one of these elements would have
been good; the idea of a steamed almond sponge has me considering making one at
some point over the winter, a steamed cherry sponge would be great, too but all
of this disparate elements together on one plate was tragic. It served no
purpose but to alienate fans of both puddings.