The room has two wide rows of booths with banquette seating, and there is a partial view of the kitchen in operation. A nibble of bruschetta was a welcome beginning, with excellent quality bread, toasted with a topping of tomato and a little basil and olive oil (6/10). The first course was a dish of scallops from Scotland, fresh and sweet, cooked through very well, on a bed of puy lentils with a little Swiss chard leaf, parsley and chilli. This was a very enjoyable dish, with the lentils giving an earthy contrast to the scallops, the bite of chilli giving an extra taste dimension yet well controlled so as to not overwhelm the dish (7/10).
My wife’s salad of fresh Devon crab consisted of a heap of white crab meat, a few mixed salad leaves, a little blob of aioli with subtle garlic flavour, and more bruschetta. This was all very nice, but hard to get excited about (5/10). Ravioli of spinach with ricotta, marjoram, and sage was simply presented with no frills and had very good pasta with excellent texture, the ricotta flavour coming through well (6/10). This was better than a risotto that had a slightly watery stocky, with fresh peas, asparagus, cucumber and broad bans topped with Parmesan; the broad beans were not podded, and although reasonably small this meant the beans still had their slightly leathery outer coating. This seemed to me unnecessarily lazy from the kitchen – of course it is a hassle to pod broad beans, but if I can do it at home surely a professional kitchen can manage? (4/10).
Veal chop was very good, a generous piece of veal with good flavour cooked through well, topped just with a few cooked tomatoes. This was served with spinach that was a fraction on the watery side of idea, and borlotti beans that for me were cooked a little too long (5/10). Sea bass was wild bass, well timed, served with cherry vine tomatoes and Roseval potatoes, garnished with parsley, thyme and capers (5/10).
A nice feature is that you can try some desserts in half sizes. I had an excellent ricotta cheesecake with lovely texture, moist and tasty (7/10) with a well made Amalfi lemon tart (6/10). Coffee was very good, served with a single chocolate truffle, though at £4 for a cup of coffee this is hardly an act of wild generosity. Starters here were £9 - £13, pasta £9 - £12, main courses £24 - £28, desserts around £7, with optional vegetables at £4 (though the dishes we tasted had sufficient vegetables).
The wine list was well put together, with a pleasant selection not just from Italy but around the world, at prices that were not excessive. I thought that service was particularly good all evening, with a genuine warmth about it that I was not expecting from a restaurant in a hotel. With a £50 bottle of wine between us and a cheap glass of dessert wine, but no pre-dinner drinks the bill came to £210, so this is not a cheap evening out. However the ingredients were of very high quality and the cooking was generally very capable.