My aunt and uncle, Lorraine and Dai, are regular visitors to Rick Stein in Winchester. Charlie, the manager, greeted us with a wonderful smile. He kissed my aunt on both cheeks, shook my uncle’s hand and then was introduced to me. He took our coats and showed us to a lovely table near the window at the front of the restaurant. We were handed menus to peruse. The menu wasn’t massive I am pleased to say. Twelve starters and twelve mains to choose from.
Whilst perusing the menu, Charlie handed us all a glass of Prosecco as a little Easter treat. A lovely touch I thought. Shortly after our Prosecco arrived some little nibbles came out way in the form of mini hake fish cakes with a tarragon mayonnaise. They were crispy and hot and were a wonderful way of getting the juices flowing ready for our menu choices.
We made our menu choices. I decided to start with the ‘sashimi of Scottish salmon, sea bass, tuna and scallops’ served with wasabi, pickled ginger, daikon and a soy dipping sauce. It was fresh and light with a delicious amount of heat and kick from the wasabi. A perfect starter in my opinion. Not heavy but full of flavour. Lorraine chose the ‘stir fried squid with chorizo’. Squid is normally the first thing I head for on a menu but I thought on this occasion I would let Lorraine have it! It was very pretty to look at and the juices and spices from the chorizo sausage had turned the squid a lovely shade of terracotta. I tried a little of the squid. It was cooked beautifully and was tender on the bite. Dai was in the mood for oysters. He had three ‘Porthilly oysters’ with shallot vinager and lemon and langoustines on ice with mayonnaise. They were truely beautiful to look at. He said they were “very good”. I am not an oyster fan. I want to be but I tend to prefer clams, mussels, whelks etc. Perhaps it’s something I will “grow in to”!
For our main courses I had chosen the ‘roasted ray wing’ with cannellini beans, chilli, garlic and tarragon. I also had a green salad alongside. Lorraine had ‘chargrilled fillet of sea bass’ with a tomato, butter and vanilla vinaigrette. Dai went for the ‘Indonesian curry’ that was full of sea bass, prawns and squid. Served with pilau rice and a delightfully crispy green bean, shredded coconut and crispy shallot salad.
I thought my ray wing was daringly spicy. There was a lot of spice in the rub used to coat the fish but I found it rather delicious. I wasn’t expecting that much heat but it was offset by the mellowness of the cannellini beans. The fish was cooked to perfection and slipped of the ray’s finger-like bones. I wasn’t able to take pictures of Lorraine’s or Dai’s courses as they had demolished the beauty of them before I had a chance! Sorry about that but Dai said over and over that his Indonesian curry was “the best meal he had had in a long time”. I wish I had tried a little now! Lorraine’s seabass was cooked beautifully and she said it was “delicious”.
The three of us decided we would share a dessert. The ‘milk chocolate and rose cream’ intrigued me and sounded wonderful. I love rose scented and flavoured things. It was served with a baked chocolate crisp and the most wonderful vanilla ice cream. I have to say that it was one of the most delicious desserts I have EVER had. I am not normally a chocolatey dessert kind of girl but this wasn’t over-sweet like many other chocolate desserts. It had a subtle rose flavour syrup that was drizzled around the plate in its soft pink hue. I was blown away as was Dai. I would put that in the number one spot of my best desserts of all time. It’s all I could talk about on the way home and I would love to be able to recreate it at home! Apologies for the broken chocolate crisp.. Lorraine got in there before I had the opportunity to snap a picture!
I loved my experience at Rick Steins. The company was great and the ambiance was buzzing just as I had hoped. The restaurant was full to the brim and Charlie mentioned that they were catering for 110 covers that evening. I couldn’t fault the service even though they were busy. Our young waiter was a dream and so attentive. He even let me take a photo of him with my aunt. I think she was a little smitten!
The decor was just how I had imagined. Whites and blues with some stunning oil on canvas artwork on the walls. All with a seaside theme. I fell in love with the fishy wallpaper that was on the approach to the lavatories too. Absolutely fantastic! I would recommend a visit to Rick Steins if you are ever in Winchester. It really was the most enjoyable evening. Thank you Lorraine and Dai for suggesting we go there and having the foresight to book a table on a very busy Good Friday evening.
Lorraine also mentioned that they do a fantastic lunch menu. I believe it is two courses for £19.95. It might be worth checking that out at a later date.