Stumbling through the Gantry is something of an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ experience. First, you discover that what appears to be a tiny scruffy bar serving some interesting beers, ciders, cocktails and good coffees. Walk down the narrow staircase and there’s an elegant panelled dining room painted a tasteful shade of National Trust sludge, with ceramic tiled floors and flower-filled glass jugs. Then, further down a quaintly furnished corridor, you enter yet another world: a charming and rustic conservatory overlooking a garden.
But, there’s nothing Mad Hatter’s tea party about the food. It’s good, seasonal, modern British fare cooked and served by a very proficient crew who seem like they might have drifted here from somewhere much smarter. A tiny, pastry-wrapped parcel of deep fried goat’s cheese was just about perfect, as was the sharing antipasti meat platter – artfully piled slivers of fine hams and salamis. Excellently al dente seafood risotto was dense with shellfish, but a quinoa crumble was bland. Puddings were variable too: a chocolate mousse with berries vanished in seconds, but banoffee cheesecake was too sickly to finish. Gantry was packed to the gills on a rainy Friday night, and it does a brisk trade at lunchtime too.
by Veronica Simpson