Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Trago tragedy . . .


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.

Shame.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Pub Food Travesties (2) - Cherry Bakewell Steamed Sponge Pudding

Well, I should have known better really.

I'm drawn to these things.

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 custard.

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.

But the custard.

Man.

Cold custard with a steamed sponge pudding?  

Somewhere in heaven, God is weeping.