Windows on New Walk

August 23, 2015

I reviewed the Belmont Hotel’s restaurant Windows on New Walk  for the Leicester Mercury recently.  I’m not a great fan of hotel restaurants due to considerable experience of their mediocrity.

The Belmont though wasn’t too bad at all.  There’s a new chef  there  which prompted the visit there was a sense of kitchen standards being quite high and the food on the plate was in the main well thought out, well-cooked and nicely present.

A starter of  smoked duck breast, Bosworth Battlefield Blue cheese and roasted walnuts, sprinkled with microherbs turned out to be a really fine combination of flavours and textures, presented with dainty flair. Our other starter was a complete contrast in style, a warm puff pastry tart of wild mushrooms. A hearty affair with plenty of fungi in a rich cream sauce, further livened up with a judicious splash of truffle oil and a perfectly poached egg that oozed satisfyingly over things. Not exactly cutting edge but none the worse for that.

Main courses include a range of locally-sourced steaks (a reminder perhaps that a key constituency here is blokes away from home dining on their own), some old school classics such as whole baked lemon sole with capers and beurre noisette, and a selection of those quite ambitious, attractive-sounding dishes that have so often let me down. The respectable standard of starters had raised hopes though.

My slow-roast rabbit dish justified higher expectations. It was a skilfully prepared, well-cooked and very enjoyable dish. Rabbit can easily dry out but this was tender as you like, with the drumstick left on the bone and the thigh stuffed with a lively chicken and chorizo forcemeat. It made a good plateful with sauted new potatoes, savoy cabbage with bacon lardons, cauliflower purée and a red wine sauce. If I was picking holes, the cabbage was a little drab and a little more sauce was needed but this was a lot better than experience has led me to expect.

A classic duo of confit shoulder and roast rump of lamb also passed muster. The rump could and should have been a bit pinker, just to emphasise the contrast in taste and texture with the slower cooked shoulder. And again a little more sauce would have helped to mop up a sizeable rosemary and garlic fondant potato but a good dish.

We were pleased to see most of the wine list was available by the glass and our Argentinian Malbec and Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon were both excellent.

Deserts pleased though didn’t dazzle. My white chocolate and rhubarb tart was, of course, very sweet, but the rhubarb that should have offered a tart contrast was bland and mushy and ginger syrup didn’t really show up. White chocolate sorbet was delicious but overall the dish didn’t have the dialogue it needed. Another desert of an elegant coffee and praline cheesecake with mango sorbet and a tropical fruit salad had great constituent parts but we weren’t convinced they all benefited from being on the same plate.

It’s a sophisticated place, though you never quite forget you are in a hotel. You kind of felt the friendly staff all had other jobs to be getting on with rather than being able to give you undivided attention, and it’s never good to have tables relaid around you as you finish your meal. That said, we walked away feeling well fed and thinking there’s plenty of Leicester diners who might enjoy this too.

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