Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The Living Room - Oxford

Had a trip to Oxford last night for a dinner date. We went to The Living Room.

I've never heard of it before, but it would seem it's a small chain with 15 venues in cities around the UK.

The dining room and bar were very contemporary with big chunky dark wood and leather furniture. Even though it was a Tuesday night there was a lively, informal atmosphere. The bar and dining areas are separated by a dark wood partition that allows the ambience of the bar to feed into the dining area without over-powering it.

I was looking forward to good things. However, I was disappointed.

Starters consisted of a sharing platter. What should have been top-draw favourites were executed poorly. I think I only ate as much as I did because I was famished.
  • Tiger prawn toast with sweet chilli sauce - tasty although not much evidence of prawn
  • Houmous with toasted sesame seeds and grilled pitta bread - worst houmous I've had in a restaurant. Strange texture and an over-powering hit of garlic
  • Honey and mustard glazed baby sausages - these were off a tasty glaze but with a very slimy texture. Also the sausages had a very strange spongy, almost undercooked, consistency.
For main I chose "Free range chicken breast, roasted, with pan-fried mint gnocchi, creamed garden peas and prosciutto crisp". This in the main was excellent lovely crispy prosciutto and well cooked chicken. The gnocchi were very tasty and complimented by the peas and mint well, with the rich and unctuous cream sauce. Unfortunately small things let the dish down. I only had about 6 gnocchi and the onions in the sauce were CRUNCHY - can you believe?

I chose not to complain as I was on a date (that also explains the lack of photos), but I was not impressed.

On to dessert and I chose the "Warm treacle tart with raspberry ripple cream" to cheer me up. A classic English comfort pud that's difficult to get wrong. However, they managed it. The tart had an over-powering orange flavour which wasn't too my taste. The ice-cream was good from what I could tell from the tiny quenelle I had.

Puddings are supposed to be a delicious naughty treat to round off a meal, I felt cheated. I slice of tart, less than an inch thick at its widest point and a spoonful of ice-cream - that's just plain mean!

I don't think I'd recommend The Living Room. I'd happily go back to the bar for a cocktail or two, but on the evidence of last night, I'd steer clear of the restaurant.

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