I'm a bit of a foodie these days and so I thought I might start to put up my thoughts about local restaurants in the area.
First off :
CAFE ZOOT, Bailgate, Lincoln.
David and I have eaten at Cafe Zoot quite a few times in the past. We've even taken friends there and my overall perception of the place is that it is an efficiently run restaurant with very pleasant surroundings. Comfortable seating with some intimate areas as well as front of the house tables.
I have mostly sat at the back part of the restaurant (which I prefer because it is more intimate) or once or twice we've been upstairs.
We haven't eaten there for a while, but today, as a treat because I'd just finished writing POSING FOR PICASSO - my fifteenth novel - David took me into Lincoln and our first choice of eating place was Cafe Zoot.
There are many really good restaurants in Lincoln that I'll discuss another time but for lunch this one is not the cheapest, is slightly upmarket, and food tends to be more Noveau Cuisine.
We decided we'd have a more substantial lunch than we usually do. I often opt for a Jacket Potato at some restaurants and cafes when I'm trying to take the healthy option - but Cafe Zoot doesn't have those on the menu - so we both went for Blue Cheese Mushrooms to start. David chose Chicken Supreme as his main and I opted for Calamari Salad.
STARTER Blue Cheese Mushrooms £5.25.
It wasn't what we were expecting to be honest as I had perhaps
thought the mushrooms would be stuffed with blue cheese in bread crumbs
and the sauce around them or separate for dipping.
What arrived was mushrooms sauted in a blue cheese and walnut sauce, and it came is a wide brimmed bowl that had a very small, shallow bowl area. Also with this was a piece of bread which could have been wholegrain and was possibly homemade.
Presentation mostly relied on the white bowl - not really anything more than a dish of mushrooms in a brownish sauce really. But it did look tasy anyway. David remarked afterwards that blue cheese crumbled on the top might have enhanced the look of this dish.
The bread alone tasted a little stale - but I'm not a lover of hardish breads so I'm assuming it was meant to be that way. I had to ask for butter as they didn't automatically bring it. With butter the bread was better and easier to eat.
The mushrooms themselves were very tasty. I could taste the blue cheese in the sauce. Thought it was rather salty, but nicely flavoured. I ate it all quickly. The bread and butter did compliment this wet dish in the end too.
Small portion as my 'Noveau Cuisine' comment above suggests. Could have eaten much more of it. But knowing I had a main coming I didn't worry too much or think this was a problem. (Best to have less and leave you wanting more, I think!) So satisfactory portion size.
Service Between Courses/ Staff Attentiveness
Service was fairly quick and we didn't have to wait too long for the mains which they brought together. We were asked if we had enjoyed the first course. We had, so we said so.
MAIN Calamari Salad £10.50/ Supreme of Chicken £13.95
David's Supreme of Chicken had a substantial piece of chicken breast with a small amount of mash, a couple of carrots and a tiny piece of brocolli. All were surrounded by an impressive sauce which was a vibrant green. Overall the presentation was extremely nice. The Chicken looked as though it had been pan-fried and was nicely browned. Overall lovely presentation. It looked appetising.
My Calamari Salad came in a wide shallow bowl and this was the first surprise. The calamari was not hot, nor was it battered. This was an assumption I had made - obviously wrongly. It was mixed into a salad which didn't look particularly appetising as it was the usual salad bits with boring white calamari rings in it and a couple of wedges of lemon.
The cherry tomotoes were fresh in the salad but, even after squeezing the lemon over it, the calamari and salad had absolutely no flavour to any of it. The calamari was rubbery. Bland. Not good at all.
I have never in my life complained in a restaurant - but when the young man who was serving came to ask if we liked it I told him I was disappointed and that the meal was bland. It absolutely had no taste at all to it. I could have been eating anything. He said he would mention it to the kitchen and he disappeared. Soon after, my plate barely touched - I sent the meal back.
Supreme of Chicken
I did taste David's meal and it was as nice as it looked. He really enjoyed the small carrots and said they were tasty as well as the delicious sauce and mash. His only complaint was that the chicken was a little over done and quite dry, but the delicious sauce made up for this. He ate all of his meal.
As expected for the type of restaurant. A little on the small side but as in the case of the Chicken very tasty and nicely presented.
Salads vary and you never know what you'll get from one place to another with size. I had no expectations therefore and wasn't disappointed by the size. There was a fair amount of Calamari rings in the salad. Sadly though it was flavourless. Otherwise, portion was fine.
After Dinner Service.
I cannot fault the service here because the manageress (I think) came to see me and had removed the price of the Calamari Salad from our bill (rightly so as I didn't eat it). She apologised for herself and for the staff member who I had given my meal back to (apparently he should have offered me another meal choice but didn't know the procedure).
He was very apologetic and I told him that I completely understood and it was fine. And you can't be cross if people treat you fairly and are polite to you!! I felt they handled us really well. Good service, even to acknowledge and admit where they failed.
Would I Go Back?
The food in this restaurant is usually really good - I've had other meals there and this was the first to disappoint. So yes. Very willing to try it again.
They handled my complaint really well and also listened afterwards when I explained what I thought could improve the calamari (hot and battered would have been an improvement and some form of seasoning on that and the salad too).
Review 6/10 this time. But I'm sure it will be much better when we go again.