This is a revisited review of a different sort, as the restaurant in question has changed both name and menu since we last went there. Plates & Co. is the name taken on by the establishment Rock, where we had a more-than-half-decent meal. If you look on the Voucher Cloud App, there’s a very good offer on at the moment: Three Courses for Two People for £45. Trust me – it’s a very good deal. Joining me on the wining and dining adventure this time was my friend Megan Saunders and her 15-month-old daughter Tabitha. Now it’s true, having a fidgety and eternally-curious 1-year-old at the table can make for less-than-dignified dining, but what can you do? Other than ask for a dustpan and brush when the meal is finished, of course.
Plates & Co. present what I like to call Do It Yourself Dining, in that with every choice in starters, mains and desserts, they’ll let you cater the accompaniments to your tastes. For instance, the Soup of the Day, which was Leek and Potato Soup in this case (see pictured), you can choose to have that with Croûtons, or Crème Fraîche, or Pecorino Cheese. To name a few options. But with a Leek and Potato Soup, the best thing to go with it is a nice smoky blue cheese, like Stilton. With the soups, you get a choice of two accompaniments, so I played to tradition and chose crusty bread.
Look at that soup. Isn’t that a lovely colour? The palest of greens, as opposed to the usual brown one normally sees in dishes of its kind. The blue cheese, of which you add as much or as little as you like, complemented the onion flavours of the leeks, whereas the potatoes were barely noticeable. That’s not a bad thing, though, as it only made the soup itself all the more smooth.
Megan’s choice was the homemade Bread of the Day (see pictured), which in this case was Rosemary and Sage. Now, I must admit I was not expecting her to get a whole loaf – I predicted four or five slices. Soft, warm, delectably tasty – with or without the truffle butter she had chosen to come with it.
With both of us, our main courses took a great deal of deciding. I don’t like to have the same sort of thing two reviews in a row, and so I was going to opt for the Linguine, priced at £9 and served with a selection of three items including a blue cheese sauce, slow-cooked tomato sauce or parmesan shavings. But then I thought again – I quite fancied Duck. A £17.50 Gressingham Duck Breast (see pictured) to be precise, served with a Honey and Thyme Reduction, Sautéed Potatoes and Peas as per my choice.
I must admit my surprise at how small it was for its price, but then remembered that Duck is a very rich meat anyway, and that less is more. It’s also a lot lighter a meat than I seem to remember – I recall quite dark meat when having had it at Christmas. The potatoes were done to a decent degree, also to my surprise. Potatoes are one thing I am always wary of in restaurants, unless fried, chipped or mashed. Simply because experience has taught me that they are one thing chefs grow complacent over and don’t always do to the best quality.
For her entrée, Megan had Plaice on the Bone (see pictured), remarking that she is glad when she sees the head left on a fish. I agreed, saying it adds authenticity and a certain style to the dish. She asked for this to be served with Herb Couscous, which she said she had not had before, and Sugarsnap Peas, a favourite from her childhood. She also used bits of the dish to keep Tabitha amused, although this didn’t go too well when it came to the couscous.
With a little hole still yet to be filled in our stomachs, we hastily asked for the dessert menu. A selection of Ice Cream (see pictured) satisfied Megan’s needs just fine, although she did not manage to eat it all in the end, claiming that it was just too rich.
A side of Sea Salt Praline was high on both our priority lists, as we both selected it to accompany our desserts. It was probably just as inconvenient to eat as it was tasty, purely because it’s just so easy to get it stuck in one’s teeth. A warning to all diners: avoid if you have cavities.
Following suit with a rich, chocolatey dessert, I had a Hot Chocolate Pudding (see pictured), arming it with a small teaspoonful of Clotted Cream alongside the Praline. This is where I felt the presentation let itself down. I’m not overfond of wooden boards for serving anything other than cheese or possibly pizza, depending on the place. With a sweet dessert, I think it just looks ugly: even more so when the dish is primarily brown. On top of that, though Megan opposed me in this, I did not approve of the miniature saucepan in which the pudding was served. Would a ramequin not have sufficed? Wood and metal in place of good, clean porcelain? I have never cared much for modern culinary presentation, but this takes the cake.
But speaking of cake and all other things of a dessert nature, the chocolate pudding itself was delicious. Hot and creamy in the middle, teeming with melted chocolate like that which you see in TV adverts at Christmas, but also light to the point where you felt like you levitated slightly with every spoonful. If there’s one thing this place cannot be faulted on, it’s the quality.
The service was not as attentive as we would have liked. In fact the chef, who greeted us on the way in, was a better conversation than our waitress, who only spoke to us when she felt she had to. This being said, they were very forgiving in the mess we had accumulated under the table with Tabitha, and declined our offers to sweep up after ourselves. But with all said and done, a decent and highly-recommended meal.