Monday, 23 November 2009

The Seven Fish, Ringwood

It was a friend of ours birthday last Friday. A group of us were going to go out for a meal and the birthday girl had chosen the Seven Fish in Ringwood. We arrived in the pouring rain at around quarter to eight and although a little early our party of twelve was seated immediately. I made a run for the toilets only to be greeted by naughty framed photos on the wall next to the urinals. I was on the left and had the very french looking moulin-rougesque photo taken through a keyhole of a lady in lingerie perched on the edge of her bed. This took me by surprise considering it didn't go with any theme of the restaurant and definately not with the clean minimalist surroundings of the dining room. Did I mention it came as a pleasant surprise? Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of it to show you because as you can imagine, excusing yourself from the table and wandering in to the toilet with a big SLR camera tends to attract the wrong kind of attention and wanting to avoid any potential lawsuits I resisted the urge and decided to order my food.
I chose a starter of smoked sea bass fillets with a chorizo salsa. Once ordered I did start to wonder whether the saltiness and strength of the chorizo might overpower the fish. I had nothing to worry about though because the dish was really well balanced, the paprika in the chorizo complimented the smokiness of the sea bass flawlessly and at only £7.50 I think this was the best value item on the menu.
For my main course I had ordered the scallops with braised fennel and marmalade sauce and my wife, who had skipped on the starter to save room for the all important dessert, had the poached smoked haddock with peas, mash, spinach and wholegrain mustard sauce. My scallops were really plump and pan fried perfectly, incredibly soft and delicate and not at all rubbery as can sometimes be the case. The fennel lacked that certain aniseed kick and could have done with a little more salt. As a main course I think it needed something to complete the dish, definitely more fennel and maybe some other vegetables?

The wife's meal came a little late, she has that annoying habit of ordering better than me, or maybe thats just me being fickle but I usually find myself eating my meal while staring longingly at her plate until she lets me have some. Not much of a wholegrain sauce but the potatoes were smooth and buttery and the fish tender and moist.

Afterwards I ordered a coffee and a cognac while the wife ordered a chocolate brownie with toffee ice cream and white chocolate shavings, the brownie was unbelievably light and not at all stodgyl. The ice cream melted down the side of the warm brownie and swirled into the rich, thick dark chocolate sauce. It was like a Mills and Boon for the chocoholic. The birthday girl had Eton Mess and as I am, by my own admission a pudding thief, I had to try it. They know how to do good desserts at the Seven Fish, is that because they're open for coffee all day and most of their daytime customers are old ladies having tea and something sweet? I don't know, but they also know how to prepare seafood, just need to work on the accompaniments. The service was a little slow and impersonnal, our table sat filled with empty plates from our starters for a good fifteen to twenty minutes. A few things came late, but not substantially and as we were a table of twelve I thought the kitchen did well. Shame the waiting staff were slow.

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