A bit of a mixed bag at The Alliance on Mill Lane the other day. Let me explain.
Bread and olives were definitely of the ‘value’ variety; a warmed baguette with no butter or oil, with green olives of the brine / jar type; not a crime – but at £3, one might expect posher ones?
My main was a puzzling dish that was almost right, but just fell short: a generous sea bass fillet with a pleasingly crispy skin, placed on top of a tower of “crostini”, which was actually made up of an amusing series of toasted, sliced brown bread triangles! I’m not convinced this was chef’s original intention when the concept was conceived, but at least the toasts were nicely crisped. A caper vinaigrette and samphire worked well, though perhaps the orange-coloured sauce and dash of balsamic weren’t really needed; the chopped fennel was a sound idea but a touch underdone for my tastes. Overall, good elements, just a little over-complicated and confused.
Fries materialised rather than chips, because chef had “run out of them”, but with plenty of ketchup, that wasn’t too much of a problem.
Madame Fusspot was most definitely not pleased to find her risotto undercooked. This was a pity; with Parmesan, chopped peppers and char-grilled courgette neatly placed atop, the flavours were bang-on, but to send it out without finishing the cooking properly seemed altogether strange, though it has to be said this seems to be one of the most common, if inexplicable, eating-out errors.
All in all I just wonder if The Alliance – a welcoming, friendly pub that’s always relaxed and mellow – is caught slightly between trying to do pub grub and something a little more elevated, without quite finding the right balance yet. Or perhaps I’ve just been a little unlucky on recent visits?
Still, there’s leather sofas, live sport (on TV, not actually going on in the pub – unless you count Wine Olympics) – and a fulsome breakfast menu too. Eggs Florentine and coffee while watching the downhill would have been fab. Alternatively, a traditional, hangover-busting fry-up with perhaps a more conservative use for those funny triangles of toast!