If there’s anything nicer than settling into a warm pub with an open fire when it’s freezing cold and blowing a hooley outside, Sam Harrington-Lowe isn’t sure what it is…
The Dyke might be a big old barn of a place but there’s something really warm and cosy about the atmosphere inside. Score immediate points for feeling like coming home into the warm after a really long day at the coal face.
It’s undergone some changes to the team and the menu recently and we were keen to check out both the service and the quality of the food. It’s often a hard line to tread – the difference between high end restaurant food, and good quality pub fare but a glance at the new menu tells us where we are.
Good reliable standards like gourmet burgers, sirloin steak and risotto jostle for position amongst some more daring dishes such as extensive seafood platters and slow-cooked ribs. There’s also a specials board, something I’m always usually drawn to because I somehow get the feeling this is where a chef likes to try out the fun dishes.
And so it was that we found ourselves going off-piste as much as down the standard slopes. Starters were (from the specials) Cream of wild mushroom, chive and asparagus soup (£5.95) and from the standard menu, Venison carpaccio with rocket, Parmesan shavings and truffle oil (£7.49).
And then from the standard menu, the Cod with crushed new potatoes, tenderstem broccoli, savoy cabbage, samphire, red pepper coulis and lobster butter sauce (try saying that after a few wines) at £13.95 and Roast pork belly with spiced chorizo, crispy wild boar lardon and haricot bean cassoulet, topped off with a red onion sour cream (£12.95) from the specials.
AND HOW WAS IT?
OK, so firstly this is a place that offers excellent value for money. The portions are huge. Obviously we tried three courses (more about pudding later) but honestly, I wouldn’t normally be able to eat that much, so pace yourselves.
The food overall has some really sophisticated touches – really close attention to detail and some lovely frivolities like the crispy thing resting on the soup to the swirls of lobster butter on the cod plate. The food is all very well-seasoned – not a place to add salt – but there is some real creativity on the menu and we were impressed with the obvious thought that had gone into the food.
The real star of the starters and main courses we had was actually the cassoulet – although surprisingly spicy – it was an indulgent dish of absolute sticky, beany heaven. The cod was beautiful cooked, just slippery enough but set. And we loved the lobster goo round the edges. Overall, some really lovely food.
The pudding selection is mercifully light; I always hate it when there’s too much choice. By the time you’ve eaten two courses already, having a million sweet things to choose from is always overwhelming.
We took about three seconds to choose Rhubarb crème brûlée with homemade shortbread biscuit (£5.45) and Chocolate fondant with vanilla pod ice cream (£5.45). For those in the know, yes the fondant was gooey on the inside and yes the brûlée cracked when you broke into it. But almost overshadowing the exemplary pud was the shortbread biscuits. Whoever baked those has the touch of an angel.
Overall we had a lovely time. Cosy, out of the blustery night, sat near the fire, stuffing our faces. But the Dyke is a bit more than just straightforward comfort food – there’s someone in that kitchen with a little bit of daring and creativity. Good stuff.
Dyke Pub & Kitchen
218 Dyke Rd