“ 52 Bell Street / Sawbridgeworth / Hertfordshire / CM21 9AN / Tel: 01279 722554 / Fax: 01279 600766. „
I think the name Goose Fat and Garlic sold it for me more than anything. My sister had visited the restaurant about two months ago with her fiancé and I knew I would go there one day. I am not quite sure what it is about the name that is so enticing, after all, I dont particularly like fowl food....I finally got my chance to go recently when we booked a table for four for a pre-holiday/pre-wedding/pre-everything else catch up.
We did book last minute and had an option of 700pm and 930pm on the Saturday night. The restaurant is popular and it is understandable that they want to do two sittings, although personally we took the 700pm slot, which was preferable for us.
The restaurant is well situated within the village of Sawbridgeworth, and occupies a prime corner position. It is warm and inviting from the outside and the ample glass windows show off a contemporary restaurant that certainly draws you in.
We were recognised on arrival and offered the choice of taking our table right away or seating in the wine bar. We chose the latter. This restaurant has an enviable menu of Champagne Cocktails, Mocktails, Martini cocktails and short cocktails, as well as a wine list which will satisfy the fussiest of customers. We all opted for Kir Royal champagne cocktails and found ourselves a table. Service was swift and attentive and we had been given our table number on arrival, so we could charge to our table without fuss.
The wine bar side of the restaurant also serves tapas, and while we did not sample this, a glance at the menu reveals a choice of over 20 tapas dishes. This is a recent introduction to their services, and personally I always find tapas a welcome snack if it is a drinks only night.
The décor was contemporary, with dark woods and wood floors and warm colours complementing the comfortable high back dining chairs which were in a combination of styles. The place itself was full, but not overly so. We had a choice of stools at the bar, or a table while in the wine bar side of the restaurant. The Kir Royals were fantastic, and I think this was in part to the glasses that they were served in; very tall and elegant, making this a long drink. (so we had another!). I have always had the view that half the enjoyment of a good wine is how it is presented and served.
We were shown the way to our table, which was comfortable for four people and the restaurant was laid out in such a way that we did not ever feel we were too close to other diners, and couldnt talk freely. The restaurant is not particularly huge, and I doubt it could be much more than 50 covers.
The menu is Modern British in style with an ample choice of starters and mains (at least 12 of each). There were decent vegetarian options, as well as plenty of fish and meat dishes. We were quite boring in that three of the four opted for a fresh crab and crayfish starter with dill mayonnaise under a blanket of oak smoked salmon. They all cleared their plates. I was the odd one out and opted for beer battered King Prawns with a garlic mayonnaise and salsa dip. They were absolute heaven!
We managed to get a little more variety in our main courses, and between us we opted for Sea Bass, Duck, Fillet Steak and Monkfish. I had the Monkfish which was served deep fried in a light crumb with pak choi and spring onion mash with an unusual kumquat marmalade. I didnt sample the other dishes, but the fact that no one left anything on their plates speaks volumes.
Our starters averaged around £7.50 each, although there were options ranging from £4.95 to £11.50 for mussels. Mains were from around £11 for vegetarian options to around £18.95 for the fillet. These prices are obviously higher than the average pub meal, but the quality of the food, and the presentation on white square plates made this an enjoyable feast.
We chose an excellent NZ Sauvignon white to accompany our meals, and it was just to our taste, although unfortunately it was the last bottle. (I must order a case from the internet). The restaurant did recommend an alternative for our second bottle, which was also most enjoyable.
We did eventually take a look at the pudding menu, as we did not want to offend Chef :P Sis and I opted only for a specialty coffee but we did share in our partners desserts .I have to say, the passionfruit Crème Brulee was the nicest crème brulee I have ever eaten, with a crispy top which tasted like bonfire toffee yet a subtle passionfruit flavour to the dessert below.
Vegetable dishes were charged as extras, and while we had a couple of portions of sautéed courgettes between us, I dont think I would have been overly disappointed with the portion size regardless.
Altogether our bill for four adults was £230, with approximately half of that being on drinks (8 Kir Royals and 2 bottles of good wine). Given that main courses are perhaps £5 more expensive than the average chain pub menu, we felt that was reasonable value for money, if not somewhere you would go every week.
If you are local, the restaurant has a member card, which saves 10% off menus on certain days. They also do special events such as Jazz nights.
You can buy gift vouchers for a friend, or purchase a Chef for the Day Package for which includes a meal for two, and is excellent value for money. Or if you want to release your inner Tom Cruise, you can have Cocktail making classes too.
Goose Fat and Garlic
52 Bell Street
PS: There is a French Cookery book by the same name, but I dont think there is a connection
We had just moved to the area and were looking forward to trying out what seemed to be a thriving modern european restaurant with a great menu and classy decor.
The first time we visited was to try out the tapas that had been advertised in the window. We love Tapas and were looking forward to choosing our platters.
What a disappointment.
The food was obviously frozen and then dumped in a deep fat fryer. (They even served greasy spring rolls - er Tapas?)
By the time we had swum our way through the terrible selection that was presented to us on a platter swimming in grease, we felt quite sick.
We left putting the experience down to the fact that it was a Tuesday night and the chef must be having an off day and we had chosen from the Tapas menu etc etc.
So we tried again - this time in the main restaurant.
It was expensive (London Prices and more) pretty dreadful food once again. No excuses this time, what a shame. We'll never go back again.
I have recently moved from Wimbledon to deepest Essex (or so it feels) and am still adjusting to this new way of life after spending the last ten years living somewhere reasonably convenient for central London. I am of course far too old to be missing the London nightlife, however I have always enjoyed the variety offered by Londons restaurants and have been looking to find some local establishments that I can use for special occasions and for taking visitors, so I dont have to cook. I think I have found the first in Goose Fat and Garlic.
I spotted this one about two weeks ago when wandering through Sawbridgeworth town centre with my groom-to-be hoping to persuade him into a morning suit on the big day. I think the first thing that caught my eye was the quirky name, immediately followed by the attractive and fresh décor which we could see through the ceiling to floor windows. We had a birthday celebration coming up on Monday 20th and decided there and then that this would be our venue. I was particularly relieved as I had been struggling for inspiration until then (his birthday not mine).
Booking and first impressions
As I was working at home that day, I made the booking in person whilst out shopping. It was a Monday so I did not expect there to be any availability issues and there was not. I liked the look of a large round table in the corner by the window, it was set out for four people but I requested and got it no problem. For the purpose of this review, I have just called about a table on Saturday night, the phone was answered straight away and they do have a table for two, which I plan to honour, the things I do for research
Upon arrival I was pleased to be greeted by name from memory not the book, our coats were taken and we were asked if we wanted to go to the cocktail bar or straight to the table. We replied table and were taken to the one I requested which was now beautifully laid out for two.
The restaurant is divided into three areas; formal dining with covered tables and high back leather chairs, informal dining no table cloths and high back sturdy wicker chairs and the bar area. We were in the formal dining area but each area looked as appealing as the next, the décor was in all cases very stylish and modern. I particularly liked the spacing of the tables as I dont like to feel crammed in and I like my conversations to be private, in both the formal and informal areas the spacing was extremely generous.
Food and service
Being a Monday, the restaurant was below capacity, but there were a couple more tables taken in the formal area, a large party in the informal area and a few people came and went in the bar. Not bad for a Monday in a small town though. We were mainly served by a young waitress who is probably studying during the day and her service was impeccable and, dare I say it, much better than one normally gets for somebody of this age group. The more senior waiter on duty also checked on us a couple of times. I thought the amount of time between taking our order and serving the courses was just about right, not too hurried but not enough to make us wonder if we had been forgotten.
There were two menus for us to choose from, there is a tapas menu which might be more appropriate for the informal dining area and the a la carte which we opted for. We felt quite spoiled for choice, there were ten starters and twelve main courses to choose from. Vegetarians had three of the starters and two of the mains to choose from and fish-eating vegetarians could double this number of options. We did not have a dessert but there were eight including two of my favourites crème brulee and crepes suzette. Maybe next time
Wine is served by the glass and not just house wine, in fact there were five whites and five reds available by the glass which I thought was very good. By the bottle, there were about 15 each of red and white and the prices were from about £13 to £32. We chose a nice South African red for £19. There is also a good selection of cocktails, shorts, whiskies and other after dinner drinks but we did not have any, not on a school night.
For starter I had deep fried king prawns with garlic mayonnaise and chilli sauce and my other half had fresh crab and crayfish bound with a delicate dill mayonnaise, served on a bed of mixed leaves under a blanket of smoked salmon. I was quite surprised at his choice as he doesnt really like smoked salmon or indeed fish that much but it looked delicious and he said it was and further declared he will always have this as a starter when we go back. I was also pleased with my own dish, there were about half a dozen prawns, cooked perfectly and they were nice big fat ones to boot!
Our main courses (full descriptions courtesy of website) were honey roast rack of lamb, served with artichoke mash dressed with a redcurrant jus, and garnished with fresh vegetables (him) and chargrilled duck breast, served on a cushion of braised leeks with fondant potatoes, glazed with a rich plum sauce (me). We didnt order any side dishes and certainly didnt need them, it is not a pile-it-high type of establishment but neither do they serve a huge plate with a small morsel in the middle; in fact the portion sizes for both of us were just right. Likewise we were both satisfied with the cooking, he goes for medium-rare and I like medium-well done (comes from my northern roots) and we both got exactly what we asked for.
After a thoroughly enjoyable meal we were not hurried or pestered to take something else and were brought the bill in our own time. The total bill (which did not automatically include a gratuity) came to £70 which I thought represented excellent value for money.
The location of this restaurant means that it is only going to appeal to a certain number of people reading my review, however if you live anywhere near here or will be staying in this vicinity I am sure you would not be disappointed. I consider it a real find.
I have always eaten out a lot in London, I have been to a number of the top and famous restaurants in London over the last ten years and I intend to continue to so so, it is my indulgence, but I can honestly say that Goose Fat and Garlic would give many of them a run for their money at approximately 50% of the cost.
Located in the centre of the picturesque town of Sawbridgeworth, Goose Fat and Garlic is established as the choice of restaurant and bar for customers looking for comfortable and friendly surroundings.