Monday 29 April 2013

Restaurant 65, Hemel Hempstead Old Town

We had a conference at work last week, so there were thirty or so of us for dinner close to the office, so in stepped Restaurant 65 and a special ‘chilli’ menu to enjoy. This is exactly as you would expect, chilli was in every one of the courses that made up this special menu. First came a lovely glass of chilled prosecco, with a candied chilli in it, which was actually very nice; then onto the six courses…

First came ‘pit of darkness’, simple rye bread served with a chilli oil dip; this was as you would expect and was very tasty. Second came ‘gates of hell’ which was a mango, lime and (you guessed it) chilli shooter, a sort of evil amuse bouche. This was also very good, although the fact that it was served in the kind of plastic shooter glass that nightclubs serve Sourz in sort of cheapened the effect!

Third and fourth are fish course and main course respectively. The fish course (‘eternal damnation’) was seared sea bass, with a risotto flavoured with lemon and scotch bonnet peppers. This dish was served with a coriander pesto and a smoky chilli oil. The sea bass was absolutely delightful, really very good, easily the high point for me. I tactically sat very near to a fussy-eater friend so I got to eat this excellent dish twice! ‘Sands of time’ was corn fed chicken breast with a chilli rub. The vegetable accompaniments would have been lovely if you could taste anything over the ridiculous heat of the chilli rub, which I think was entirely unnecessary.

A very welcome fifth course was ‘cleanse the spirit’, a simple carrot and ginger sorbet which was a godsend after the chicken. This was another highlight for me, and again I got to eat two! ‘Last rites’ finished the meal and my taste buds. I’ve never eaten a white chocolate cheesecake and found myself saying “needs chilli”, I won’t be starting anytime soon. Again, ridiculous and over-the-top!

In summary, a very mixed bag: some great, some far-from-great, but all interesting. I would definitely re-visit this restaurant again, but this time I would order from the regular a la carte menu and give my taste buds a chance.

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