Review: John Milne, Table Table
Reporter: Pete Hinchliffe
Date online: 13 July 2011
Visited 5 July 5 2011 (midweek 7.15pm – 9.30pm)
This restaurant adjoins the Premier Inn just off the M62 Junction and was previously a Brewers Fayre establishment; a name that surely fills the serious diner with dread. However, I had heard that the Table Table chain had, as well as catering to more traditional tastes had launched a ‘Best of British’ concept in which, additional to the normal menu offering the usual family restaurant favourites was offering a feature menu that was changed every month.
I have to put hand on heart here and admit that the family restaurant concept is not one that inspires me but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the John Milne as far as the restaurant experience goes.
The bar area was busy with one member of staff serving drinks and taking food orders. Another bar person might have helped out and I have the feeling that at weekend they would be run off their feet.
Plenty of parking for both able-bodied and disabled customers.
On the Best of British menu, two starters were on offer, the Scottish kiln-roasted salmon terrine at £4.95. The other starter on this menu was Scottish crab at £5.65 but this was sold out so Mrs H had the chicken liver pate off the ordinary menu which she felt was rather bland.
The salmon terrine was excellent. Tasty and well presented.
For main course I chose the slow-cooked lamb shank shepherds pie which really was very good although slightly disconcerting to see the thigh-bone sticking up through the mash. Served with carrots and broccoli. £9.95.
Mrs H had the dry-aged Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak on the bone which was quite expensive at £18.95 but was superbly cooked and presented.
I had the Oxford pudding tart with raspberry coulis for dessert and Mrs H opted for the raspberry cranachan meringue; both at £4.95
We had a Brancott Estate New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at £13.93 and I also had two pints of beer chosen also to represent the ‘Best of British’:
• Woodefordes Sun Dew 4.1 at £2.85
• Ringwood Boondoggle 4.2 at £2.80
Both in good condition though a slight haze on the Woodfords.
There were no less than 21 wines that could be purchased by the glass. Bottle prices started at £8.00 for the Pearl Bay white. Prices averaged at £13-£14 per bottle with most expensive being Mumms champagne at £29.99
We ate in the restaurant which was beautifully presented in a large conservatory. Tables well laid out with plenty of room. Well-upholstered seating and nice views over the lawn and outdoor seating area. Service throughout was very good and the other diners were also enjoying the experience.
Food - We only tried the feature ‘Best of British’ menu but for price, quality and choice it gets 4/5
Wine - Plenty of choice, inexpensive and virtually their whole range can be purchased by the glass. 4/5
Beer - Only two real ales on. Reasonably-priced. 3/5
Value for money - We thought it was good value for money given the food quality. 4/5
Service - Spot on in restaurant but a bit frantic at bar. 4/5
Cleanliness - Loo areas spotless as was restaurant. Bar area busy but generally ok. 4/5
Décor/ambience - Excellent relaxed atmosphere in restaurant. Really comfortable and unhurried. 5/5
Disabled access - Good. Separate disabled loos. Good wheelchair access in restaurant. 5/5
Overall - 4/5
Additional remarks - My main complaint about family restaurants is that they are spread out across the whole of the UK and are therefore a bit ‘samey’. They tried to stick doggedly to the safe, tried and tested staples; garlic mushrooms, steaks, gammon, pizza etc.
With the ‘Best of British’ menu you are getting more than this. There is a genuine attempt to showcase excellent produce from across the nation and with a changing menu every month, a real attempt to draw people in based on offering a real quality alternative.
Table Table is daring to be different and that has to be good news for the British diner.
Recommend? Yes, but probably best to go midweek and to book.
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