Craving a taste of the sea on a blowy March evening, my companion and I ventured out to the newly renamed Cuttlefish on St Clements. I was a little nervous about how Cuttlefish would compare with its previous incarnation, Fishers, so entered the restaurant with slight apprehension. The décor is still nautically themed but in a much more muted way; illustrations of octopus tentacles adorn the lampshades and paint colours of steely grey paired with cream make the room feel more open and airy. I was relieved that the warm, welcoming atmosphere remains, along with some of the staff members, it seems, and so with fears put aside we were seated in a cosy window seat with lots of people-watching potential.
To begin, I opted for the cured salmon gravadlax with a watercress salad and honey mustard dressing while my companion went for the steamed mussels served in a garlic and herb butter with garlic bread. My generous portion of salmon was delicately cured and well seasoned – a pleasant dish to start the meal with, but I still couldn't help but be envious of my companion's fragrant dish. Her starter was beautifully presented in a petite mussel pot, complete with lemon wedge. The garlic and herb sauce was creamy with just enough garlic, the mussels were tender and there was the perfect amount of toasted garlic bread to soak up the wonderful sauce. This really is a dream dish for lovers of garlic and shellfish.
We didn't have to wait long to tuck into our mains. My companion chose the Alden's aged West Country rib eye steak with French fries and herb butter. I moved beyond my usual seafood comfort zone of fish and chips and opted for the fritto misto which featured whitebait, tiger prawn, whiting and squid with a lemon mayonnaise. As promised, the batter was indeed light and crispy and I naively assumed that I would demolish the dish in a matter of minutes and be left hungry for more but was pleasantly surprised that I felt very full. All the fish was cooked well – the whiting especially was beautifully flaky, moist and sweet. My one criticism is that while coating the tiger prawn in batter meant that it was very visually impressive, it also meant that all the appetizing batter was coating the shell rather than the succulent meat within and so had to be carefully picked off to be consumed. An ideal dish for someone who likes to play with their food! My companion was also pleased with her main. The fries were crisp and had just enough salt and the steak was cooked as requested (medium-rare) meaning it was springy and tender. She would have preferred a tad less fat on the outside but acknowledges that that could be because of the cut of the steak. So far, so full.
Sadly, dessert fell flat compared with the savoury courses. My companion's fresh fruit salad with raspberry and strawberry sorbet was tart enough to provide a good palette cleanser but she wasn't impressed with the berries accompanying the sorbet as they were still partially frozen and were strikingly similar to shop-bought frozen berries. My white chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake wasn't overly sweet, thanks to the sharp compote. The texture of the cheesecake was smooth, the biscuit base was suitably buttery, and the tangy passion fruit and sugary white chocolate worked well together. I felt that the blobs of meringue were a little unnecessary but that didn't spoil my enjoyment of the pudding.
Generally I was pleased with my meal at Cuttlefish. The presentation of the food was very good (including a nice touch of foam shrimps served with the bill!) and the service was excellent; very attentive and cheerful. I've been told by my colleague that they are very accommodating to families, especially those with babies, but Cuttlefish would as make an agreeable venue for any diners. While I was a little miffed to pay £9.50 for a large glass of white wine (St Desir Sauvignon blanc which wasn't particularly memorable) and the desserts could do with a little tweaking, these are minor complaints. I will return to gorge on the mussels, perhaps as part of their fixed price menu, and suggest you do the same!
Price: £72.95 for three courses (including one glass of wine) for two people .