Are you a fan of high-end seafood? If so, you simply must visit Rick Stein’s restaurant in Winchester, Hampshire. One of the first in his portfolio outside of his native Cornwall, this restaurant is a surprise find on a bustling high street and it delivers fantastic, top quality, seasonal fayre. If you like simple, elegant and honest seafood, then this is certainly one to watch.
The restaurant is just a short train ride from London, situated on Winchester high street. Winchester, one of the former capitals of England for a short period from 827 AD, provides a gorgeous historical back drop for the restaurant. On the day of our visit we made a point to explore the town and it made for an exciting start to what would be a fabulous meal.
To start the evening, I went for the Fish and Shellfish Soup with Rouille and Parmesan. I am not one to usually go for soup on a menu, but I was intrigued to see how the fish flavour shone through. Deriving its influence from Provence, this dish is made from gurnard and other fish from Newlyn market. From the first mouthful I knew I had made the right decision. Light, velvety and full of well-balanced fish flavour, this was a hearty and warming dish. The addition of the rouille also cut through the fish beautifully and complimented the overall flavour well.
My partner went for the restaurant’s take on the classic Prawn Cocktail. The dish came with a mountain of fresh, juicy prawns and tomatoes and avocado dressing. Deceptively large, this dish did not skimp on the prawns and made for another great starter.
For us, the star of the show was the exquisite Turbot Hollandaise (at a reasonable £29.95). The menu describes the dish as a “Tronçon of turbot in the English style, simple and probably a nicer way of eating this wonderful fish than anything more elaborate.” We would have to agree! The simplicity of the hollandaise against the subtle taste of the turbot was a match made in heaven. The melt in the mouth texture of the dish made this a real joy. Plus, it’s nice to enjoy a dish with minimal fuss and a simple aesthetic, the turbot took centre stage and the hollandaise provided a tangy ensemble act. Perfect. It also worked well with our choice of white wine, the Viognier Le Choix De Voltaire (2014, at £32 a bottle).
Taking a turn from the higher end of the menu, we also tried the cod and chips. Served with the classic combination of thick cut chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce, this was a classic cooked just how we liked it. Rather than a slither of cod, as you would expect from your local chip shop, this dish presented us with a sizeable fillet of cod. Once again, the fish was cooked to perfection, it was light and flavoursome. Plus, the batter was light, crisp and delicious also. We sampled these dishes to give us a good insight into the breadth of quality throughout the menu, from top to bottom, and we were not disappointed with either.
Other dishes which caught our eye during the visit was the Singapore Chilli Crab. A stir-fried crab in the shell with garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander. Very much for those who love eating with their hands and getting gloriously messy! Also, the Fruits de Mer (£49.50) looked to be a fine medley of Lobster, crab, langoustine, oyster, scallop, mussels, cockles and clams with mayonnaise and shallot vinegar, served on ice.
Finishing the meal, I opted for what is likely to be my last Eton Mess of the year, and I am happy to report it was a great one. Full of strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, meringue and a delectably light whipped cream, this was another rendition of a classic that hit the spot.
All in all, Rick Stein’s Winchester restaurant embodies the eponymous heroes’ fine reputation for seafood. Each dish delivered with aplomb, but also each dish careful not to overwork or complicate the flavours of the seafood itself. As a seafood lover myself, this was trip that I will most certainly make again and I will do so very soon.
Find out more or make a booking here.
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