Being the number one place to eat in the market town on Trip Advisor, as well as the tempting images of its food, was enough reason for me to taste it.
The Bistro stands today following its transition in 2013 from the Concord Cafe.
We went along on a Tuesday evening and were the only table booked in for the night. We were greeted by a young waitress who was very helpful, friendly and attentive.
The owners change the menu every few months in order to keep the food fresh and current. My girlfriend and I had chosen what we wanted a couple of weeks before dining. However the menu had changed by the date; not that this was a problem because the menu was replaced with another array of dishes which make your mouth salivate.
The Willowgate Bistro also provides a selection of gluten free and vegetarian menus along with a children’s menu, which are all available alongside the evening menu.
The restaurant offers two courses for £24.95 or three courses for £29.95. This may be over the average pricing for the area, but the quality of food certainly makes it worthwhile.
I opted for the slow braised belly pork which was served with a butternut squash puree and wilted spinach. The pork was succulent with a crackling on the top which was complemented superbly by the sweetness of the butternut squash puree. My girlfriend chose the leek and potato soup which she described as “the best she had ever had”. It was beautiful and creamy in texture and the flavours were fantastic.
There was a relaxing, homely feel to the restaurant with comfy chairs and a modern decor. There was also a radiator next to the window table where we sat, which was perfect for my always-cold partner.
It wasn’t too long before the main courses were brought to the table. The presentation of both dishes was superb and we couldn’t wait to tuck in.
I went for the ribeye steak served with tomato, mushroom, onion rings and homemade chips with a blue cheese sauce. This incurred a £5 supplement but the steak was cooked to perfection, medium-rare, and the homemade chips were divine. The quantity of food was excellent, my only criticism being that the dish was slightly too salty.
The duck breast was served pink with roasted garlic and thyme mash, confit of shallots, figs and a redcurrant sauce. The duck was tender and the thyme mash was perfect and smooth.
Despite being fit to burst, we simply couldn’t resist a dessert from the selection on the menu. We both chose a light pudding, me going for the raspberry panna cotta with biscotti while my chocoholic girlfriend chose the chocolate torte with homemade honeycomb. We shared our desserts which both had a smooth, light texture with the crunchiness of the honeycomb or biscotti. They were a delightful way to end a fantastic meal which exceeded expectations.
The bill came to £65.40, which included a soft drink each which I thought was justifiable. I am already looking forward to my next visit, perhaps on a weekend when, I have been told, it is bustling.