Yeah, sorry, I went out for dinner again last night. I was making up the numbers and for any number of reasons I shold have stayed at home.
The Compass used to be The Salmon And Compasses, a pub done over as a trendy bar, where I used to go and neck Stella and listen to my friends DJ. I am now older and wiser and drink Amstel – that one percent makes all the difference – and the pub has similarly been given a mature make over as a gastropub. Actually, everytime I go in the dining room seems to have expanded so by now it is more gastro than pub (the kitchen is actually behind the bar).
I’ve eaten at The Compass before and it has everything you could want from a gastropub: good food, a nice spread of beers (bitter and lager), decent atmosphere and friendly (and attractive) bar staff. Last night everything seemed to go a bit wrong though. This was augured when I arrived by Snow Patrol playing in all their deafening, anthemic glory and a volume knob that seemed to be being twiddled at random throughout the evening. And is F.E.E.L.I.N.G. C.A.L.L.E.D. L.O.V.E. really dining music?
Anyway, I ordered steak because I was feeling braindead and unimaginative. The meat was well seasoned and cooked (though not quite as rare as I would have done it myself) but a bit fatty and I would hope for some more flavour from ribeye. As is compulsary in all gastropubs the chips were triple-cooked, there are good reasons for this and it does make a good chip. If done well. The Compass completely ballsed it, creating hollow, rectangular crisps. Maybe they should stick to twice-cooked in future. The final insult was the bearnaise which was far too buttery in both taste and consistency. The one thing they did get right was a good sized clump of watercress to accompany it. This really is the daddy of salad leaves and the perfect companion to a steak and they had set it off nicely with just a touch of bit of lemon.
The main point of interest, however, was my slightly bizarre, almost magnificent but ultimately sickly starter. This was cauliflower pannacotta with parmesan crisp on a bed of rocket. Pause to consider that. The first mouthful was delicious, the second – using the crisp as a delivery vector – was even better, with the third I ran into a problem: there was about 100g of cauliflour-flavoured cream, milk and sugar on my plate and nothing to go with it. I valiantly mashed it with my rocket but though it helped, it was a losing battle. As I reached the end, I was feeling slightly nauseous. All it need was some Melba toast or something and it would have been a triumph, instead it made me go a bit wrong.