There are not many pub restaurants you would choose to dine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, though 185 Watlington Street has become the place for all-day dining for the locals of Towcester since it opened in October 2015.
After tucking into their fantastic breakfast menu a few weeks ago, I chose Eggs Benedict while Adam opted for his dream brekkie of Steak and Eggs; I knew I had to return.
I mean, they serve Unicorn Hot Chocolate, what’s not to love…
The understated external of the building, a former Georgian townhouse, disguises from the utter grandeur of the entrance, which has a wooden stag head, beautiful paintings, a variety of trinkets and a rustic feel you would expect from a village pub restaurant. It’s truly mesmerising as you walk in and you can’t help but stare at the chandelier, intricate decor and monochrome flooring.
Deceptively rustic, as you venture through the big wooden door into the bar area your eyes take in the bright, modern restaurant decorated with an array of soft furnishings, as well as a well-lit bar area and flowers visible from the outside garden.
It certainly is pleasing to the eye. My friend Nikki and I arrived on the 20th April for their six-course tasting menu to see if the food was pleasing to the palate.
One thing, we hadn’t bargained for on arrival was that all tasting menu diners are seated on one long table. Cue great British awkwardness, like sitting on the tube avoiding eye contact and hoping the next person boarding doesn’t take the seat next to you. Being the last to arrive, (standard, if you know me outside of the blog) Nikki and I had lucked out and were seated directly in the middle of the table where all the other expectant diners had been waiting for us to arrive…
I hadn’t seen Nikki prior to getting engaged (read about the proposal here) and we had quite a bit to catch up on so we weren’t going to let the seating plan discourage us.
Hannah, the new General Manager enthusiastically talked us through the courses and spoke to us all individually during the meal, taking onboard each diners’ feedback; which was a nice touch.
Up first was the Seared Tuna, Crispy Noodles, Pickled Vegetables and Wasabi Mayo. This course was packed full of flavour, the crispy noodles were perfectly seasoned and were a nice contrast to the creamy mayonnaise and tuna.
So far so good.
The next course was the Spring Vegetable and White Bean Chowder, which being a lover of pesto I had expected to enjoy, though I found the chowder to be a bit too watery and bland for my own taste.
I was particularly looking forward to the crab course, as crab is not something I get to eat often and not being the best at taking one apart, it was reassuring to know it would be served de-shelled in a risotto. The soft texture of the crab was perfect for a risotto and its sweet taste had been given a kick with chilli oil. All the creaminess of a risotto, packed full of great flavour – safe to say I loved it!
The great thing about a social table is that you can hear others’ thoughts on the courses, which I found intriguing. As a result, Nikki and I began talking to our neighbouring diners Russell, Becky, David and Barbara, who were just as intrigued about me snapping away taking photos of every course (standard blogger behaviour) as I was hearing their thoughts on the food.
Though the Crab Risotto had been my favourite course, others including Nikki found the chilli a tad overbearing.
Next up was the rich Lamb Rump with potato gratin and vegetables, which following the divided opinion on the crab was a very quiet course as everyone tucked in.
The breaks between the courses were just right with the wine free-flowing and topped up throughout the meal. Whilst we were busy socialising with our fellow diners, the chefs were busy in the open kitchen.
Moving on to desserts, we were served the Lemon Meringue Trifle with shortbread. Not a big fan of trifle or lemon meringue without something sweet to offset the lemon, I didn’t have high hopes for this course. Though, I changed my mind once it was brought out. The cream top had been glazed to look like a s’more and the shortbread was perfect for dipping in the lemon trifle.
Last but certainly not least was the sweet, warm Chocolate Brownie, which was dusted with honeycomb sprinkles and came with the cutest little peanut butter milkshake.
I love peanut butter milkshake and this really made the dessert for me. I was even tempted to pour it on the brownie.
All the food was beautifully presented and though we had initial reservations about sitting with a group of other diners, we all had a great time socialising; talking all things food to personal hobbies.
The tasting menu proved to be a great way to try different dishes to broaden food options, providing an opportunity to try meals you may not ordinarily order. The menu was prepared to take diners through their taste senses with well-seasoned dishes, sweet, savoury to the rich and more decadent courses.
Thanks to Hannah and the team for a truly memorable dining experience.
185 Watling Street really has the best of both worlds, from rustic charm to a bright contemporary way of dining; It’s easy to see why it is so popular with the locals.
185 Watling Street
Tel: 01327 317 177
*One thing to note is that if you’re travelling in on the A5 northbound, the road from Towcester to Milton Keynes is currently closed every evening from 8 pm, which proves very difficult to get home if you’re travelling back that way…*
Thanks for reading,