The Red House at Marsh Benham jumps out at you as you drive down the road and I had been meaning to go for some time. There was no point in going for a half arsed meal; I wanted to go for a proper one. I'm not sure I've been to a place that is both modern and outdated at the same time. The garden is modern, the bar and bar area are modern but as soon as you step over the threshold into the restaurant it is like stepping over the threshold to the 1990s. The bottle green patterned carpets and red velvet chairs should have been replaced when the rest of the restaurant was updated. Fortunately the food distracted me from the décor.
The menu itself was a bit like a maze. Some bits were in boxes, some were on the side, some were summarised and some were explained fully. Trying to work out which part of the menu to order which course from was thoroughly perplexing. Despite this, we started the meal with miniature cottage pie, miniature chicken pie, soup, scotch eggs and homemade bread. I'll never know if they are starters, sides or snacks but miniature versions of things mean only one thing: I don't have to decide between starters. They were all extremely tasty and wonderfully presented. The bread was unfortunately not at all good. It was heavy, dry and far too salty but the miniature meals more than made up for it.
For my main I had roast tomato tart and basil sorbet. Crisp and flaky pastry with soft juicy tomatoes and a hint of herb all rounded off with floral sorbet. The hot tart with the cold sorbet is an experience to be had, it's very unusual. Try as I might I just couldn't get used to it. It was a lovely combination but I kept waiting for a brain freeze that never came. I'm very glad I tried the hot and cold main course but I'm not sure if I'd have it again. I just didn't know where I stood with it; burn or freeze, sweet or savoury, smooth or crunchy. It's great to have such variety in a dish but not entirely different with every mouthful. It is no different I suppose to having ice cream on a hot pudding, but then I always opt for cream.
Never do I order crumble when I'm out for a meal. Why order something I regularly make myself? I went against the grain on this occasion and I'm so glad I did. I devoured a beautifully fruity, sweet, sticky, oozy strawberry crumble. It came with crème caramel ice cream but I left that to melt on the side. For the first time I was more interested in the fruit than the crumble. When I make crumble it's all about the topping, the fruit is just something that has to be there to make that sumptuous gooey layer where crumble meets fruit. Doesn't say much for my crumbles I don't think.
This was a meal of firsts and I shall definitely be going back for more. The staff were some of the most professional I've come across and for what you get, it is reasonably priced. Overall I was impressed and I enjoyed the meal, albeit somewhere I thought I should be playing on my Tamagotchi and listening to the Spice Girls.
All That I'm Eating