When an eatery gains a glowing reputation it runs the risk of becoming complacent.
So when returning to Silversmiths for the first time in 18 months I was intrigued to see if the team had come to rest on its laurels.
Since being spun around by none other than famous restaurant critic and chef Gordon Ramsay on his Great British Nightmare programme in 2009, Silversmiths has been pulling in foodies with the promise of honest, local and high quality dishes that taste as good as they look.
Its popularity has led to extended opening hours on a Friday and Saturday, with a discounted menu offered to those who take up the earlier seating of 4.45pm to 6.45pm.
The early bird is predominately aimed at theatre- goers, giving them the opportunity to enjoy fine food before some fine entertainment, but works equally well for those wanting to posh-up their evening without pushing up the bill.
Early diners can choose two courses for £17.90 or three for £19.90. Too good to be true? There is a slight catch, for the full menu is not included in the offer. There is a choice of three out of the six starters and mains available.
This suited me just fine as I was still torn between the discounted dishes, but I fear for some the choice may be a tad restricting.
So it’s decision time at our table - I opt for the early bird choices of smoked mackerel to start and belly pork for main. My boyfriend however is desperate to try Silversmiths’s signature lamb for main and so strays on to the full price menu options, ordering the Yorkshire cider braised ham hock to start.
I study my surroundings. Since my last visit not much looks to have changed, but then I’m a fan of the décor. Its simple rustic wood panelling, leather padded booths, red bucket seats and dimmed pendant lighting provides a winning combination of style and sophistication.
But Silversmiths bosses haven’t remained static all areas. They’re continuously looking for ways to thrill, please and surprise diners. As such, they’ve recently introduced their own app, featuring ‘how to’ videos, top tips and exclusive offers. This year they are developing a constantly changing menu that moves with the seasons and they’re taking a risk with a mighty 11-course Valentines menu.
So I wouldn’t say they’re complacent and the quality of the food we receive backs this up.
My starter of smoked mackerel includes two chunky pieces of fish, perfectly cooked, accompanied with beetroot and dressed leaves. The dense ham hock is equally pleasing.
Come mains we’re both in meat heaven. The layered belly pork pulls apart with ease below its crisp top and accompaniments of black pudding, celeriac and bacon complete the dream. Meanwhile there is silence from the other side of the table as he devours the 16-hour braised lamb breast with milk poached sweetbreads, cabbage and carrot textures. I’m told the tender dish is simply delicious.
We agree to share dessert, which had a familiar title – Chocolate ‘Eccy Road’. A beautifully crafted dish of varying textures is delivered – chocolate terrine, honeycomb, cast rice, marshmallow and popping candy, to end our night with a bang.
The bill, with a bottle of plonk and two side dishes, came to a very reasonable £69.20.
My star ratings out of six: