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The Castle

Castle Green, Taunton, England, TA1 1NF, United Kingdom

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The Castle restaurant closed in March 2011, and is now replaced by the Castle Bow Bar and Grill. The notes below are of historical interest only. 

The Castle is just that, a hotel in a pretty castle in Taunton; it is a dining room with some heritage too, having been the place where Gary Rhodes gained his reputation. The Castle menu had starters at £8.95 – 10.95, mains at £15 – £26 and vegetables extra at £2.95. It is a quite traditional, formal room, which even on this Saturday night was not full. 

The wine list stretched to 18 pages, and contained wines from good producers such as Thelema, whose Chardonnay 2004 was listed at £55 for a wine that retails at about £14, Felton Road Pinot Noir at £61 for a wine that costs around £20 to buy, and the excellent sweet wine De Bortoli Noble One 2006 at £38 for a half bottle, compared to a retail price of around £12. 

An amuse-bouche of tomato and basil salad served in a shot glass was a pleasant idea but had surprisingly tasteless tomatoes (13/20). Chanterelle mushrooms were served on thin toast with frisee lettuce and were cooked lightly, but were salted too heavily even for me (14/20 at best). Brixham crab served in a trio of forms, including a crab cake, was again a nice ingredient that was over-salted (13/20). 

My rump steak was the best dish, the meat itself cooked as requested and having good taste, served with a peppercorn sauce than may be old-fashioned but worked well, served with pleasant chips that, perhaps not surprisingly, were well salted (15/20). Sea bass was properly cooked but with a pepper sauce that lacked flavour (14/20). 

Desserts did not improve proceedings, with lemon meringue pie with pleasant texture but oddly lacking in lemon taste, while a sorbet sponge cake also were adequate but curiously lacking in the main ingredient (13/20). Service was pleasant and reasonably efficient. Overall this meal was the least good I have eaten at The Castle over the years, and was quite disappointing given its reputation and my past experiences some years ago.

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