PETER RICHARDSON makes a return to a restaurant he last visited a decade ago and finds the quality of food just as good – and that prices have risen little
You know how the memory plays tricks, especially when you’re no longer in the first flush of youth?
Mrs Eating Out reckoned it was five or six years since we’d last eaten at Truffles, on the A6 at Whittle-le-Woods.
So I checked on the Evening Post website, whose archive can clearly be relied upon to retain more accurate information than some of us bus pass types can manage, and discovered that 10 whole years had flown since our last review.
The point of telling you this is not that Truffles is a survivor, but that it has succeeded without recourse to bunging up its prices to any great degree, at least as far as the set menu is concerned.
Back then, the three-course table d’hote offer (Monday to Thursday) was £16.95 and two courses was £13.95.
Fully 10 years on, the same deals are £17.95 and £15 respectively, which is pretty impressive given the rate at which overheads have risen.
Better yet, the supplements which were applied to virtually everything we ordered off the set menu back then have been scrapped, so the headline price is what you pay.
I fully intended having all three courses, but that plan was doomed the moment I heard myself ordering the black pudding starter.
A thick slice of herby pud, topped with a disc of bacon and a nicely judged poached egg, would have been substantial enough, but at the base of this tower was a mound of mash potato flavoured with sage.
Thankfully, the “stout” gravy turned out to be more of a dressing than a full-blown portion of dark beer-based juice, which would have been altogether too much.
Having enjoyed a starter that sounded a bit like breakfast, it was tempting to go for the three-types of sausage with bubble-and-squeak, but a lighter-sounding chicken main course won the day.
Char-grilled breast fillets mixed with ham and topped with fresh tomato and mozzarella, turned out not to be that light an option in the end, especially as there were some chunky vegetables and a portion of fries as well as some dressed salad leaves to go at.
Whether the chef-patron is going through a gravy phase I’m not sure, but there was also a miniature pan on the plate containing more of the stuff.
Once again it seemed an incongruous addition, yet it proved an enjoyable chip-dipping distraction.
For Mrs EO, the highlight was her starter of half a baked red pepper containing cherry tomato halves and tangy melted cheese, which both looked and tasted the part.
Her main course of grilled salmon in a lemon and dill sauce with roast potatoes and more of the chunky veg I’d enjoyed was a decent effort, too, although the mash potato on which the salmon was served did lack flavour and body.
I finished the remnants of the South African house chenin blanc (£13.95) while Mrs EO polished off hot apricots and pears with ice cream and some toffee sauce, which proved to be satisfactory although she was disappointed not to detect the promised cinnamon and brandy “spikes.”
There are some nice touches to Truffles, which has a modern feel to it with its spotlights, its wood flooring and its black and white colour scheme.
You get veggie nibbles on arrival and butter swirls with melba toast as you sit down.
Two people getting three courses and a bottle of wine for £50 is a good deal here.