There’s one thing you can’t doubt about Blackhouse, and that is that the place has a great atmosphere. The low, modern lighting contrasting with the wooden panelling on the walls gives a feeling of intimacy and warmth as if you were dining with friends. There was a lady playing a piano in the corner, belting out the songs of Adele, Annie Lennox and Marc Cohn to name a few. She was really good and there aren’t many places you can go and eat with a bit of live musical accompaniment. After a few drinks we were doing impressions of Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm, pretending to shush everyone when his girlfriend plays lounge music in a bar.
Oh yes, the cocktails! The cocktails are fabulous and not your run-of-the-mill cocktails. Mr LTT enjoyed a couple of sloe gin crushes (presented in a manly tumbler to make him feel less SATC) and I indulged in a pear and apple martini and a mint and violet crush. You can just sit at the bar and have a drink in there too, you don’t have to eat.
I wish I could say everything was as good as the ambience and the cocktails, but unfortunately it wasn’t….
The menu is a bit of mish-mash, like it can’t make its mind up where exactly it’s from. There’s duck spring rolls and thai fish cakes on the menu, but this is primarily a steakhouse. For starters I ordered a duck egg with asparagus, toast and parma ham salt. The duck egg was perfectly cooked with a good runny yolk. There was probably a bit too much accompaniment for the egg, perhaps just the asparagus would have done. The parma ham salt was not particularly salty, it was just parma ham crisped up and blended finely. Still, I can never turn down a bit of Parma. Mr LTT ordered the calamari which lacked any seasoning – the only thing that gave it some flavour was the lemon mayonnaise. It was pretty bland.
We both ordered steak for main of course – Mr LTT ordered the sirloin steak and I had spied the “Posh Surf & Turf” with prawns, scallops and crayfish. Mine didn’t come with any sides so assumed it would be a sufficient portion for me not to need anything else. When it arrived on plates 3 times larger than neccessary I wondered where the heck the rest of my dish was. The steak was pretty small,and I’d expected shell-on prawns – there were only about 3 prawns on the place, and the “baby scallops” were less baby and more embryo scallops, such was their size. I ate my main in <10 mins and was still hungry, even after pinching some of Mr LTT's chips (perfectly cooked, though crappy presentation in mini fryer basket). I will say one thing for the steak though, and that is that the steak tasted pretty good and the texture was excellent too. It has a wonderful smokey flavour you only get from cooking it over fire. Take my advice, order one of normal steaks, don't go off-piste with a surf and turf.
For dessert I ordered the creme brulee with cashew nut tuile and raspberry compote and Mr LTT ordered the pineapple carpaccio with honey & ginger icecream. It seems a little unusual to serve a tuile with creme brulee given the textures but it tasted fine (though more like a giant cookie). The raspberry compote was not compote, it was VERY SOUR raspberries mashed and served on a plate. The creme brulee, in contrast, was delicious though with a perfect caramel top and perfectly sweetened. The pineapple carpaccio was a little odd (pineapple is bit stringy when carved into thin layers) but tasted ok – the icecream went perfectly with the fruit but I think we’d have happily eaten the icecream on its own.
Despite this mixed bag of a meal, the service is faultless – the waiters were very attentive and the food and drinks were delivered in a timely manner. We tipped for that even though our meal was complimentary. I did mention most of my issues to the host rather than just say it on here as I think it’s better to honest. The bill totalled £103 with 4 cocktails, 2 glasses of wine, olives, 2 starters, 2 mains and 2 desserts. I guess that’s pretty good value for money but I won’t be going back. The main reason for this is that none of the meat appears to be sourced from the UK (it is certainly not mentioned on the menu) with the exception of some eye-wateringly expensive rare breed steaks (£37.50 for a fillet).
If you’ve been there I’d love to know what you think – Mr LTT says I’m being unnecessarily fussy.