GFC member review: The Moorings, Newark

By GFC member Neil Cornish

Please note that The Moorings has now closed permanently.

On Sunday February 14, my girlfriend Cristina and I took an evening trip to The Moorings restaurant in central Newark. This generous Valentine’s present, from Great Food Club’s founder Matt Wright was offered with a gift-wrapped proviso: “I’ll give you the money to take Cristina out, if you write a review.” Matt paid up.

The Moorings occupies a prime location, nestled on the River Trent, close to Newark Castle. We had chosen The Valentine’s Day menu at £42.95 per person, which included a cocktail and a small bottle of Moet each, with our three-course meal. A murky evening did little justice to our surroundings. The Moorings would make a cracking location for a relaxing terrace drink, al fresco lunch or leisurely evening meal on a glorious summer’s day.

exterior

We were warmly greeted and shown to a well-lit bar area for our cocktails. Unfortunately, after finishing these, they forgot about us, so we had to prompt members of staff to show us to the restaurant table. A brown, grey and white colour scheme did not provide a particularly warm feel but subtle lighting, suggestive jazz and uncomplicated furnishings did work well together. The decor was simple, smart and businesslike; a trendy, contemporary dining experience.

Having been single for most of this century, I wasn’t aware that Valentine’s menus tend to be set over and above average prices, with often limited selection. Cristina has coeliac disease, which influences choice further, and she was initially disappointed with only two options per course. Stuart, our maitre d’, offered a selection from the main menu instead. For starters, Cristina enjoyed succulent, grilled scallops in a mango and marakuja emulsion, whilst I plumped for the sushi maki, a fillet of beef and tuna, which, albeit small, was very fresh and full of flavour. The main menu did offer a good range of gluten-free options and Stuart could not have been more polite, professional and accommodating throughout.

interior

For mains, I chose rack of Lincolnshire lamb on a bed of cous cous. I asked for medium rare, which was cooked to perfection. The lamb flavour was heightened by a honey, ginger and walnut sauce. An avocado purée was well matched with the cous cous and a sprinkling of baby carrots provided a visual feast of greens, yellows, oranges and browns on the plate. My partner opted for grilled fillet of tuna with asparagus, feta cheese, watermelon and sauté potatoes. Again, this was a medium rare delight, with generous portion size which, after trying some, left a refreshing and lingering taste.

Other than the complimentary drinks, we didn’t have much alcohol. The Moorings is also a Champagne bar and, as such, stresses its drinks menu. This incorporates a wide variety of wines from France, Italy, Germany, Chile and Lebanon, ranging upwards in price from £17 per bottle. Indeed, we couldn’t consume much else after our desserts, two easter egg sized bombe au chocolat, which housed crème glacee, caramel jus and succulent strawberries. These were presented with great ceremony and even exploded prior to kick off. Whilst great fun and a real treat, this orgy of chocolate was too much; it overshadowed the rest of a much lighter meal and would have been better shared between two or more lovers.

The evening was very pleasant. At times, the overall service felt a little exaggerated and forced but the team showed flexibility, efficiency and made us welcome. The food was beautifully presented, cooked perfectly and tasted delicious. The Moorings has relatively new owners, so it will be interesting to see how the business develops, especially during spring and summer.

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