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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

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Plated sunshine

YUMMY! Strawberry beer! It seemed the perfect drink to toast a girlie get-together – pink, fizzy and slightly alcoholic!

Unfortunately the Armadale had run out of strawberry beer so, slightly deflated, we reverted to the usual, a diet Coke (£1.55) and mineral water (£1.40) while studying the menu.

The food selection looked great – an enticing mix of staples and specials, with fish dishes being a particular strong point.

The decor, however, was questionable.

The reception was in keeping with a Victorian country house – period tiles in the entrance and comfortable armchairs with tartan cushions in the foyer.

And then the furnishing style seemed to lose its way when it came to the expansive restaurant, which had an eclectic mix of sparkling ceiling lights, a marble bust and sepia images of Ulverston and Arrad Foot at the turn of the Twentieth Century adorning the walls.

Apart from us there was a big party of diners and a couple of other small tables, but nothing to faze the friendly man who was single-handedly running the business – taking orders, pulling pints, and serving the food.

My friend Emma chose the wild mushroom and asparagus risotto with white wine and garlic (£11.95) and I went for paella (£14.95).

We ordered accompanying dishes of garlic ciabatta (£2.95) and chips (£2.50).

The dishes were certainly visually satisfying.

The mushroom risotto was finished with drizzles of balsamic vinegar and sprigs of watercress and baby red oak leaf lettuce.

What could have otherwise been a bland-looking risotto was further brightened up with peas and asparagus.

The paella, likewise, was beautifully presented.

Seasoned with saffron, chilli, garlic and coriander the paella looked fresh and vibrant, like a serving of sunshine on a plate.

Tucking in, my friend confirmed her risotto was delicious.

I questioned whether there was too much sauce but apparently this was perfect to mop up with ciabatta.

Her dish was a generous mix of wild mushrooms and plump, steamed asparagus stems.

Too generous, to be honest.

And that was our only complaint with the food.

The quantities were simply too large.

My paella was equally satisfying.

The mussels were served up in their shells, giving the dish an authentic look. There was plenty of chunky chorizo mixed in with the prawns and crayfish tails, which had a bit of a kick to complement the chilli flakes.

Reluctantly I also had to admit defeat before finishing the dish.

And in retrospect the side dishes proved superfluous.

At close to £40, without wine, we felt that cutting the portion sizes could trim down the price, and make us feel less wasteful in the process.

Struggling to move we decided to finish the meal with a hot drink.

Again, the servings were industrial – a pot of peppermint tea (£1.75) for Emma and a cafetiere of filter coffee (£1.75) for me, plus a mint chocolate for us both, and we enjoyed an unhurried half hour catching up.

At 9pm, after a comfortable evening, we were among the last in the restaurant and decided to call it a night, to cheery goodbyes from the man, who by this time had moved on to his next task in the kitchen.

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