My husband Geoff and I visited Wild Gastro @ Lilly’s in Wickham Square the weekend before last to try out their new spring menu. We were a few minutes early and the first to arrive at 7pm. We received a very warm and friendly welcome and shown to our table – which we quickly changed to another 😉
It wasn’t long before others arrived, the wood fire was burning brightly and music was playing in the background.
Wild Gastro @ Lilly’s is held inside Lilly’s Tearoom every Wednesday – Saturday evening after the tearoom has closed. Admittedly I haven’t been to Lilly’s Tearooms for a while (I did have coffee and cake some time last year) mainly because I find it hard to get a table if I just turn up. I could book of course but I don’t really want to if I’m cycling as I can’t guarantee what time I’ll get there due to punctures and which way the wind is blowing. Sadly I haven’t found it quite as good as it used to be but perhaps I should give it another whirl.
Lilly’s is a cosy tearoom and Wild Gastro is held in their downstairs room. There are paintings on the walls along with a fancy wall clock, candelabras above the mantelpiece, several mirrors and inside the unused fireplace are lots of logs ready to go on the fire. The room can hold up to around 26 covers although there were perhaps only about 17 of us. The ambience was just right.
Our food and drink order was taken and we were given a small basket of rosemary focaccia. We could certainly smell the rosemary. The focaccia was warm, fresh and very tasty and served with spreadable butter sprinkled with sea salt.
We shared a bottle of The Fathoms, a fruity Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand..
I ordered the scallops for my starter even though it was priced quite steeply at £13 – mind you, the scallops had been hand dived so…. and it was quite a large portion of two scallops which were very tender, a square of pork belly topped with crisp crackling.
Geoff had the sweetcorn chilli & lime soup with coconut cream & chilli oil. He said it was unusual but very good and he would have it again.
I stupidly ordered pork as my main dish too so we decided to share that and the corn fed chicken.
The pork belly square was identical to the one in the starter, plus another piece of tender pork, a different cut this time, sliced down the middle. The menu suggested that it was served with ‘baby glazed vegetables’ but only a couple of cavolo nero leaves were present.
The chicken was good too, very succulent. It was described as ‘thyme scented chicken supreme, leg & leek pie, dauphinoise potato and wild garlic aioli. The pie crust was light and crisp. The dauphinois potatoes didn’t appear on the plate, the little pie containing chicken & leek had a mashed potato topping instead. The menu also didn’t mention any vegetables with this dish but it came with a little anyway. Both main dishes were equally as good and it was hard to decide which was the best. The presentation on all the dishes so far were very good.
We decided to wait half an hour before we ordered our desserts as we were rather full.
After we’d ordered our dessert it took a good half an hour or more for our desserts to arrive so our main meals had well and truly gone down, which made sure we had ample room for them.
Geoff’s rhubarb & clotted cream rice pudding with torched Italian meringue & ginger didn’t look very appetising I must admit, I shan’t say what I thought it looked like and I didn’t mention it to him either, but he enjoyed it very much and I had a little taste too. Although the cinnamon and ginger were subtle you could taste them – which is a good thing, not a complaint. It was a very generous portion and he struggled to get through it.
‘Lemon, raspberry & white chocolate, set lemon mousse with lemon sponge, white chocolate & raspberry textures’. My dessert looked much better, it even had a little edible (I hope) flower on it and a chocolate swizzle stick. The meringue was lovely, I think if I’d been given a bowl of just that I would have been happy, they weren’t hard, they were silky soft and gooey. The lemon was similar to a curd rather than a mousse and the sponge was a little dense. I think pieces of feathery coral-like textured sponge which you find in some restaurants would have been better and would have looked good too. The marbled white and milk chocolate cigarello (I call it a swizzle stick), although I liked it I would rather have had some sort of homemade chocolate shard, a bit of fancy lattice work or spun sugar instead. Perhaps the cigarello was home-made but it didn’t appear to be.
We ordered an espresso each, I wanted one mainly because I’d seen on Instagram that Wild Gastro serve petit fours. I mentioned them to the waitress as I noticed another table having coffee but no petit fours. Little did I know that they were presented with the bill. We received two macarons and two pieces of fudge which were a little on the rich side. Still, it’s a nice touch and one that I definitely like.
Summery – Personally I would have liked to have seen a proper fish dish rather than the octopus, I think you’ve got to be a pretty brave person to have octopus (I did taste a little bit in Porto last year). Also, the vegetarian option of pasta & gnocchi… I’m not overly keen on gnocchi and I hate paying £18 for a vegetarian dish which I think is rather a simple one, so I was kind of forced to have meat – admittedly I did read the menu before I booked so I guess I shouldn’t really complain…
‘Consistency is the key’ is just one of my mottos. The lady on the table next to us – who we lent Geoff’s reading glasses to – was disappointed with her dessert, the glazed date & banana loaf. She’d seen the same dish go past her being served to another table and noticed the piece of peanut brittle sticking out of it. After receiving hers and eating a couple of spoonfuls she spoke to the waitress saying she didn’t like it as it wasn’t what she expected, (she said it was more like a fruit loaf), nor did it have the peanut brittle which had made her decide upon that dessert in the first place. The waitress handled the situation very well, apologised and brought the menu for the lady to order another dessert at no extra cost. The lady’s husband had ordered the same dish as Geoff, the rice pudding but his was presented much better, it was in a small cast iron dish topped with meringue and didn’t look like a pile of… unlike Geoff’s. As we were leaving I noticed another table had the rice pudding presented the same as Geoff’s. If you’re going to have a new menu, surely you try out these things first, what looks good and what doesn’t and stick with one or the other. Also, if the menu says that the dish comes with something, make sure it does. That’s really my only gripe.
Would we return? Yes, we most probably would, it was fine dining in an informal setting (although everyone was dressed up, bar one who wore jeans and trainers… ) but with generous sized portions. Our daughter Helen – and the other half of livelifelovecake.com – comes home soon so we may very well take her to Wild Gastro. We definitely recommend it.
Return? Yes, see last paragraph
Living life, loving cake