It was my 25th birthday on 3rd September (ages ago already!!), and my parents’ wedding anniversary on 30th August, so to celebrate both, we went to Rich Stein in Marlborough. I know. This review has been a long time coming! Having eaten there before, we knew that the food and service are excellent – and we were not disappointed on our second visit.
We arrived early intentionally, to take advantage of the small bar area to the left as you enter the restaurant. There are only 5 stools at the bar, so the four of us occupied most of the space. It feels small and intimate, having the whole bar to yourself. Knowing that the choice of drinks and cocktails available is extensive and interesting, we were ready to face a tough choice. I can confirm that between my sister, mum and myself, we just about covered cocktails, gin and bubbles. Such a tough life…
The recommended Camel Valley sparkling rose is delicious, and dry for a rose (which for me is a plus), but is on the more expensive side at £55, so best for a celebration. Luckily, we had two of these to justify it!
A special mention should go to the bartenders here. Olly and George were very knowledgeable, professional and personable, and were excellent at recommending both drinks and food – ask them if you can’t decide what to eat! We ended up ordering our food at the bar, and were then shown to our table upstairs.
Walking through the restaurant, you could almost be in someone’s house: the décor is classy, but relaxed, and cosy. It’s a restaurant where you will sit comfortably. It’s also surprisingly spacious compared to first glance. The downstairs restaurant and bar are small, but there is more space upstairs.
Feeling thoroughly treated already at the bar, when we sat down to eat, it was with high expectations – and we weren’t disappointed. We started with a complimentary an appetiser of a mini fishcake with tartare sauce and a selection of two different breads with olive oil. My only disappointment was that there wasn’t more! – Although, this was the perfect size for a pre-3-course-dinner-nibble without being too filling.
For my starter, I chose the crab linguine, which I have to admit, I did have the first time I went to Rick Stein, but I couldn’t resist having the same one again – gosh it is good. Meaty chunks of white meat sit atop a glorious pile of linguine, tomato and a hint of chilli. I could happily eat this every week, and I wasn’t alone in my choice. The fish soup comes sprinkled with parmesan, and I’m told it’s excellent. The gremolata prawns are pure bites of unctuousness.
For the main event, I chose Hake A la Carlina – cooked in a rich tomato sauce. It is delicious and juicy. I paired it with satellites of indulgent, buttery new potatoes and glazed carrots with tarragon. With just a hint of aniseed in the sweet glaze, I could definitely eat those carrots again! In the interests of variety, the other three ordered the same main dish – Lemon Sole with Olive Butter – with a variety of sides, including crisp Thin Chips, succulent Courgettes with Chervil and a Bitter Leaf Selection. The flexibility of the sides allows each meal to be personalised – even if you do order the same main dish.
To finish it off, I had the sweet Chocolate and Rose Cream. While it wasn’t my first choice, I’m actually pleased the pannacotta wasn’t available. I wouldn’t have otherwise tried this, but I’m very glad I did. The perfumed cream is sweet and light, and not at all over powered by the rich chocolate. I’d definitely order this again. Other desserts on our table included a Tarte Tatin and Strawberry Pavlova. Both looked wonderful – and tasted it too. The cheese selection was similarly well presented, though not being a fan of ‘raw’ (un-melted) cheese, I can’t attest to the taste. I’m assured it was lovely, though!
Finally, as a nod to our two celebrations, we were served Turkish style rose biscuits at the end of the meal, with a chocolate flourish. While beautifully presented and a nice touch, I must admit they were a little chewy for my taste.
Overall, the meal and service was brilliant. The food was rich and indulgent – everything a celebratory meal should be – and I cannot fault the staff, they were all brilliant. I would definitely recommend a visit to Rick Stein, especially if you are a fish lover. Most of the starters and mains are fishy, though there are meat and veggie options to fulfil the land lover’s tastes, which sound equally delicious.
All I can say now, is roll on the next occasion where I can eat myself silly on delicious food!
Rick Stein, Lloran House, 42a High Street, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8 1HQ, 01672 233 333.
Open all week. Mon–Fri: 12pm–3pm, 6pm–10pm; Sat: 12pm–10pm; Sun: 12pm– 9pm
Costs about £50 a head for 3 courses, plus drinks & service.
Food – 8/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value for money – 7/10
Note – restaurant interior photos taken from the Rick Stein website.