The Marquess has the feeling of a gastropub slowly morphing back into a boozer. The main bar in the handsome, high-ceilinged tavern was always kept as a place for drinking, but these days it’s the focus of attention, with a short wine list, several beers on tap and a selection of bottled options (including Kelpie’s Seaweed Ale from Scotland and Jever Pilsener from Germany).
The lovely dining room has off-white walls and nicely spaced wooden tables, and is much quieter, though the bar’s disco music can still be heard. The biggest change lies in the menu: gastro fare is served only on Friday and Saturday, and roasts on Sunday; from Monday to Saturday, thin-crust pizzas are available.
A two-for-one special offer bought a capricciosa (mushrooms, artichokes, black olives, cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, prosciutto, salami) and a quattro formaggi (gorgonzola, ricotta, parmesan, buffalo mozzarella); both acceptable at £10 for two, but not worth £10 each.
Far better was a well-flavoured globe artichoke with pine nut crumble and garlic mayonnaise, followed by ribeye with grilled cherry tomatoes, salad and parsley butter cooked just-so. A side of honey- and thyme-glazed parsnips looked limp but tasted fine; chips were average. An eagerly anticipated fresh fruit salad with Mount Gay rum and apricot ripple ice-cream was a disappointment, with no alcohol apparent and gloopy fruit.
Service was charming, but then again, staff didn’t have many diners to take care of. In short, no longer a destination gastropub, but a nice spot for a drink.