Restaurant review: Dough Bistro, West Park

Garlic mushrooms on toasted brioche at Dough Bistro, West Park. Pics: Tony Johnson.
Garlic mushrooms on toasted brioche at Dough Bistro, West Park. Pics: Tony Johnson.
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As with so many things, when it comes to eating out, Hollywood has a lot to answer for.

After all, if we believed everything we saw on the silver screen, every dinner date for two would be all candlelight, soft music and gazing into each other’s eyes.

The interior at Dough Bistro.

The interior at Dough Bistro.

Sadly, more often than not the reality doesn’t live up to the hype and what you end up with is less of a romantic tête-à-tête and more an evening of hurried preparation, overindulgence and uncomfortable indigestion.

Very occasionally though, Lady Luck will be on your side, all the stars will align and you’ll find just the right place to make you feel like you’re in your very own rom com.

The first hint that we were in for some movie magic came as soon as we left the house.

Hopping into the taxi, the first few sprinkles of snow suddenly started to fall.

Fillet steak with boar pate.

Fillet steak with boar pate.

As we pulled up to the little French restaurant, lights twinkling in the windows, it was already coming down thick and fast and we dashed inside to escape from the cold.

We were greeted by a friendly waitress who asked if I received her voicemail message about the reservation – and I started to worry.

Had the movie-worthy weather scenario and romantic ambience set me up for a devastating blow?

‘We’ve had a small problem in the kitchen,’ she explained.

Creme brulee.

Creme brulee.

We were informed that the head chef was away and the chef filling in had injured themselves and was currently sat in an A&E department.

The first spanner in the works, but not one that was completely insurmountable.

It meant that a more junior chef was at the helm with less staff to help, and that food may take a little longer. To be honest, looking around, we quickly realised that anything that meant we could stay in the restaurant a little longer was only a good thing.

The dimly-lit room with a few wooden tables made for an inviting and intimate setting.

The huge windows at the front of the restaurant also offered fantastic views of the snow-covered cars lining the street outside. It felt special to be in this snug little haven away from the freezing weather and snowball fights.

We were seated at a table in the corner, just across from a loved-up looking couple, and it seemed our luck was in again.

Due to the difficult weather conditions, a large group of people due to attend what could have been a rowdy celebration at the restaurant had dwindled to around six guests.

Luckily for us this meant it was shaping up to be the subdued, easygoing evening we were hoping for.

Diners at Dough are spoiled for choice, with a ‘menu du jour’, a la carte and tasting menus available.

The five-course tasting menu is reasonably priced at £35, or £45 for eight courses. The pigeon with fig, dandelion honey, dehydrated apricots and pistachio dust really caught our eye but we decided we were just not hungry enough and instead opted for the a la carte menu.

There are around 10 starters to choose from, with frogs legs, snails, foie gras and salmon tartar on offer from £6 to £10.

I choose the garlic wild mushrooms, toasted brioche, beurre blanc, rocket and parmesan at £6.75.

My companion goes for the ham hock terrine with piccalilli, rhubarb, salad and toasted brioche at £6.50.

We were pleasantly surprised as a little amuse bouche arrived in the form of a salmon mousse.

It was beautifully presented, served on a small china spoon with a slither of orange delicately balanced on the top.

The flavours were light and refreshing and it was the perfect start to the meal.

Shortly afterwards, our starters arrived. Served on a slate board, the brioche was stacked under a generous serving of garlic mushrooms, which came in a range of shapes and sizes.

Each variety offered a different flavour and the rocket and parmesan shavings helped lift the earthy flavours.

My companion’s terrine went down a treat as well and both of the generous portions were packed with flavour.

It was only matter of minutes before our main courses arrived – which was particularly impressive given the circumstances.

Mains include duck leg, chicken, pork belly, deep-fried brie and a couple of fish dishes.

I chose the sea bass, served with samphire, roast shallots, creamy mash, confit lemon and beurre blanc for £16.

But I spotted dauphinoise potatoes on another dish on the menu and substituted the creamy mash for those, which the waitress was more than happy to sort out.

My meat-loving companion went for the fillet steak with boar pate, chunky chips, salad, confit tomatoes and bearnaise sauce for £25. The dishes were, again, immaculately presented and the fish cooked perfectly.

The steak was the only slight let down, with the meat a little on the tough side.

For dessert, my companion had creme brulée with a biscuit tuile and raspberry sorbet for £6, which was polished off quickly.

I went for the chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and rhubarb sauce for £6.75. It was faultless and gorgeously gooey in the centre, and the rhubarb added some zing.

The bill, which came to £82 with a bottle of wine, arrived with handmade truffles on top.

The only issue then was trying to get a cab in the snow.

It meant we were sat in the restaurant for another hour while we waited, but it gave us a chance to enjoy a delicious cocktail and properly catch up.

All in all, as we walked to our front door in the snow, we realised that the few little hiccups along the way actually did their bit to make it a virtually perfect evening.

Portugese custard tart. PIC: Tony Johnson.

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