The Wharf House review

With a refined menu boasting quality local ingredients, and proceeds going to a good cause, found plenty of reasons to stop by The Wharf House riverside restaurant on the edge of Gloucester.

It’s a sad fact that Gloucester’s culinary offerings are often swamped by the plethora of eateries in nearby Cheltenham, so having heard rave reviews about the Wharf House in Over we kept our fingers firmly crossed that this was one city restaurant that might help tip the balance.

Growing in reputation among Gloucestershire’s gastronomes for the past two years, the Wharf House is housed in a red brick building alongside the canal basin a short drive from the city centre. A slightly unusual set-up means that the restaurant has an adjoining visitor centre and gift shop and while it does mean you can potter about looking at local crafts and tourist information leaflets between courses (if the desire ever arose), any first impressions that this might not be the culinary hotbed we were hoping for were soon proved wrong with the arrival of our first course.

The emphasis on fresh quality ingredients, prepared with an imaginative flair was apparent as my beautifully-presented starter arrived – including a trio of rich cream cheese and coriander parcels wrapped in smoked salmon, with a sticky balsamic dressing and a fresh, crisp salad. Meanwhile my dining partner smiled in appreciation as hearty slices of tender duck breast with tangy pineapple marmalade and a generous sprinkling of crunchy walnuts also didn’t fail to please. As we sat sipping Stowfords cider and crisp, chilled Chardonnay, things were looking increasingly good for Gloucester.

On the modest main course menu the rack of Herefordshire lamb had proven a popular choice for many of the diners surrounding our table for two, but after much deliberation two alternative dishes tempted our tastebuds. Arriving piping hot, courtesy of the friendly and ultra-efficient waitress who was a smiling delight throughout the evening, my partner opted for a chunky noissette of rare fillet beef, set upon oxtail red wine and spring onion with a deliciously creamy Single Gloucester gratin dauphinoise. While I was delighted with my choice of a meaty pan fried duck, encasing a duck and crumbly hazelnut stuffing, with a subtly sweet raspberry and ginger sauce.

Throwing waistline worries to the wind deserts included two triumphant chocolate espresso cups – one filled with an intensely rich, slightly bitter, dark chocolate mousse infused with orange, and another topped up with a far lighter white chocolate mousse infused with subtle hints of lime and raspberry. Opposite me, a quality cheese cake arrived topped with plump, just-picked raspberries accompanied with a drizzle of chocolate sauce and fluffy cream. Both provided a resoundingly successful, albeit calorific, way to end the evening.

Seated at a light oak table, adorned with modern cutlery and over-sized wine glasses, gazing around at crisp cream walls adorned with watercolours of river scenes, we agreed that while the décor might not be the most imaginative, it allows the Wharf House’s real draw – the excellent quality ingredients and creative menu – to do all the talking. Plus, with all the profits from The Wharf House used for the promotion and restoration of the Hereford and Gloucester Canal, you can tuck-in to a tantalising meal, with a sense of smug satisfaction that your appetite is helping to protect the views you are enjoying just feet away.

The average price for a three-course meal for two at The Wharf House, excluding drinks, is around £60.

By James Fyrne

© SoGlos
Sunday 05 August 2007

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