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Username: Gregors

Age: 47

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The Mill Race, Walford

The Mill Race, Walford, Ross on Wye describes itself as offering 'fine dining'. Unfortunately this was not my experience. We booked a table for 8.30 pm on 30/6/06, whilst staying in Ross on Wye, after being told by a local hotelier that bookings are advisable. First impressions were promising, elegant, tasteful interior and stylish furniture.

Surprisingly, as far as I could see, we were the only people eating. Hmmm... I wondered why, but gazing at the sign hanging outside, promising 'Fine dining, wines and ales', I wondered if the rush was over and still hoped for an appetising experience.

The Inn does offer, as promised, a reasonably varied and moderately priced wine list. The menu options sounded very attractive and imaginative; for starters, we selected 'pressing of free range chicken and chorizo sausage' and 'pine nut mint and goats cheese tart'.

The chicken and chorizo starter chosen by my fellow diner should have been a fail safe bet. Unfortunately it was most underwhelming; lacking in taste, wobbly, pale and had obviously been too long resting in the fridge, the coldness of the sad piece suppressed any flavour it might have been hanging on to. Any remnants of the promised flavours were cudgelled into submission by the over powering flavour of the gammon and rind wrapped around it.

My pine nut tart was marginally better but again strangely lacking in any flavours discernable as pine nut, or mint, although there was some evidence of cheese. Again, the starter was far too cold and may or may not have been prepared much earlier and then refrigerated.

Onto mains, well presented and colourful on the plate but sadly this promise did not translate to a decent taste experience.

The 'Roasted red pepper, with garlic, cherry tomatoes and halloumi' sounded like my ideal vegetarian meal; a good combination of vegetables, with the interest added by the garlic and some substance by the halloumi. I have halloumi regularly, at home and in restaurants, and have never before encountered it in the form of these little diced pieces, half a centimetre in width. Innovative use of ingredients or plain penny pinching? The pepper didn't have the sweetness and tenderness I'd expected: it simply wasn't sufficiently roasted to bring out the flavour of the pepper or to infuse any of the promised garlic into the flesh.

Most of the filling in the cavity of the pepper consisted of cherry tomatoes which also tasted of, well, just of tomatoes with some oil. In a dish such as this, there needs to be more roasting of the pepper and a more liberal use of herbs. Roasted garlic pieces would add the garlickiness promised by the menu entry.

The cous cous was a compacted mass with no identifiable herb flavours. Cous cous is so easy-even packet cous cous beats this. Whatever happened here? I couldn't muster any enthusiasm for this unappetising jumble and after being asked if everything is alright, had to tell the truth and send it back.

Onto the meat eater's course- unfortunately, the rabbit was off: 'too scrawny', according to the waitress. How surprising, when an establishment rejects the rabbit for lacking the necessary flesh, you'd imagine they're as careful over the rest of the food.

So, it was the medallions of beef fillet, with sweet potato and rosemary mash and 'courgettes frites'. The meat was acceptable, but we've had far, far better beef in pubs which do not profess to offer 'fine dining' and for much less than the extortionate 20.00 charged for this alleged gastronomic delight. The meat was cut after it was cooked but this was the least of its problems: it was scorched to charcoal on the outside and very bloody on the inside.

After having had the Mill Race so highly recommended, I had expected a decent meal. This Inn needs to drastically narrow down its menu options and concentrate on offering a few simple but reliable, freshly prepared dishes. Much less attention to flowery description is needed and more to technical skills in the kitchen and decent honest cooking, with a farewell to the fridge.

4 Jul 2006 19:38

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