Taster evening at the Fleur

The new-look Fleur Bar and Bistro finally opens its kitchen from September 3rd, completing the superhero triplet of Captain Alcohol, Entertainment Man and, er, The Food. Tonight it held a taster evening where interested punters could sample the dishes to be unleashed next week and the chef could make a start on the paracetamol.

How unlike this time last year, as Andrew said tonight, when landlord Malcolm would sit grumpily on his chair by the bar slowly wilting along with his customers, all held up only by the cloying fog of cigarette smoke. And where the concept of a taster evening would quite possibly fall foul of some law or another.

There was a palpable feeling of stress as we arrived. It felt as though the kitchen and the management weren’t in complete agreement about the food they were offering, but for a taster evening that didn’t matter. As expected it wasn’t a full menu, everything was bite-sized rather than plate-sized, and you got what you were given: but it was all free. Free is good.

We took a seat and wondered what would happen next. Some time later, the cellar door opened – a trap door inside the bar, health and safety field day, etc – and various staff went caving, emerging moments later with plates of meze. One of these made its way to us. Marinated artichokes, sundried tomatoes, humous, parma ham, pitta bread, cheese and black olives. We probably had enough for four, but we just kept eating; I think we left an olive and a dollop of humous.

Marinated artichoke dipped in humous tastes like porky turkey. FACT.

Next were some loud Americans. Oh, and some home-made roasted vegetable soup. Perfect: thick, textured, flavourful (yes, I am talking about the soup).

By now the pub was filling up. The soup was followed by some crostinis: a fig/goats cheese concoction (best), a beetroot-oriented pepper thingy (OK unless you’re beetroot-phobic) and a horseradish/smoked salmon lump (which I didn’t try but was apparently pretty good).

Food deliveries slowed to a crawl, possibly because we were the wrong side of the pub from the kitchen. When service came our way Andrew had a go on the pan-fried scallops on a prawn mash (in a tiny taster pot) and pronounced it good, and a much larger pile of Thai green chicken was declared “succulent” before being spirited away to another table. At that point Andrew had to leave, and as I fancied a lift home we missed out on the grilled seabass with lemon and cream and the bruschetta with peppers, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella.

It’s a very promising start indeed, given that I’d anticipated semi-plastic food and at least one Big Gay Strop™. If they can keep up this quality and drag in sufficient paying customers to make it viable, I think they can make a mark. Well worth a night out with the usual suspects once service starts for real next week.

Avaragado’s rating: one panino and another panino makes two panini

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