I had walked past The Drake a few times but never ventured in. Feeling the January pinch, we opted to go there on a 20% off A La Carte deal courtesy of 5pm.co.uk.
Walking in, we went straight upstairs only to be told that there was a function on & we had to go back downstairs. There were no signs signalling this which would’ve been helpful. When we got downstairs, we were told to take our pic of seats in the back bar area. We chose a big booth next to the fire, which unfortunately wasn’t on despite it being chilly outside. The back bar area had a pretty laid back feel to it, with quilted booth style seats taking up most of the area & dimmed lighting throughout.
I’m a big fan of sharing starters because you get much more variety than your bog-standard starter. We went for the “Taste of the Sea” platter. As the name suggests, an array of seafood including smoked salmon, mussels, trout, pickled herring, squid & samphire salad accompanied by bread. For mains we went for the red snapper & king prawn Goan curry & the chorizo & chicken linguine. Unfortunately, the pasta had sold out so the Pollock with chorizo & squid broth was chosen instead.
The platter arrived & the first thing we noticed was that there was one king prawn – bit strange considering it was a sharing platter. I have to say overall, the platter was a disappointment. The best part of it was the squid & samphire salad, which mixed well together although the samphire wasn’t as salty as I was expecting. The trout was melt in the mouth which made up for the strange smoked salmon. I can’t even describe what it tasted like but it had some oil drizzled over it which detracted from the smokey flavour you would normally associate. Even Al who is a fish fanatic couldn’t handle more than a couple of bites. The rest of the platter was equally unimpressive – plain mussels in hot water & stale bits of bread. We had to ask for butter to go with the bread as there was no sauce in the mussels to soak it up.
The mains had actually arrived during our starter but we asked for them to be taken away. When we were ready for them, I was impressed with the presentation. My curry came in a dinky pot with a lid, served on a heavy slate board. The pollock was positioned nicely on a bed on samphire (much to Al’s dismay at more of it) with scatterings of chorizo. One big down point to the curry was the single shell-on king prawn balanced on top. Not wanting to waste it, I de-shelled it but without having a single bite, my hands were covered in curry, not exactly what I was expecting!
My first taste of the curry & all I could immediately think of was the type of curry you get from the chinese. It had the same texture, colour & tasted extremely similar. Having never tasted a Goan curry before, I’m still not sure if this is what it is meant to taste like but I assume not. The prawns were cooked well but the red snapper was relatively tough. Al had a taste & asked me if it was chicken I had in the curry!! Apart from that I did enjoy it with the nicely fragrant rice, not overpowered with cloves & a nice chapati to soak it up. The pollock went down very weel & the chorizo accompanied it well. There was far too much samphire in the dish, with most of it being left to the side.
I was glad we had the 20% discount because I would not have been happy paying £40 for 2 very average courses & only 1 drink each. The Drake is trying to be a bit more upmarket than the skill of their current kitchen staff. If they toned down the menu more, going back to basics & served food more suited to the feel of the place, rather than trying to be too sophisticated. Will definitely be back for a drink!