The Vines restaurant is inside the newly restored Barton Hall. We arrived on a dark night so couldn’t appreciate the surroundings, but were glad to see a real fire as we walked in.
There is no doubt someone with extremely good taste has designed the interior of the hall, but Dave, Alyson, Ade and I couldn’t help wishing the decor paid more attention to the hall’s past.
This, and the fact we all thought the restaurant had a supermodel’s figure – long and thin – which made it feel slightly as though we were eating in a corridor, were the only minor criticisms.
Although The Vines hasn’t been open long, word seems to have got around that this is a restaurant with talented kitchen – and waiting – staff. It was full the night we went, when the weather was definitely stay-at-home-ish, with a mix of groups of friends, couples and people celebrating birthdays. The food isn’t cheap, but it is fairly priced for the quality and quantity, and imaginatively presented.
We finally decided on the starters, with Alyson having the carpaccio of beef with roquette, spring onion and mustard dressing (£6.95), and Dave the potted ham hock with toast (£6.95). This was a generous portion of herby ham and, if I’m honest, I think Alyson was slightly jealous, although she enjoyed her carpaccio, something she couldn’t remember trying before.
Ade and I couldn’t decide between the beetroot and goats cheese salad (£5.95) and the Inka grilled prawns with chilli and lime (£7). In the end I went for the prawns, five huge, juicy prawns with a delicious mayonnaise, while Ade had the salad. It looked stunning on the plate with the contrast between the ruby red beetroot and the quennelle of cheese, and Ade said it was the perfect starter to whet his appetite.
Having hummed and ha-ed over the mains I opted for the braised venison with braised red cabbage, curly kale, fondant potato and star anise sauce (£16.95). Top restaurant reviewers never say “yummy” but that is what this dish was, a generous portion of perfectly cooked meat and nicely spiced red cabbage, complemented by the earthy kale.
Having seen a waiter bring out a burger for another diner, the others couldn’t resist trying one for themselves. Once they’d discussed the etiquette of eating a burger in a smart restaurant they tucked in, savouring the chips cooked in beef fat which, apparently, were “amazing” and the nicely seasoned burger topped with bacon, cheddar and onion jam (£11).
Dave then bet me that our two companions couldn’t manage dessert. I should have taken him up as they insisted on trying one “to help me out with the review”.
Ade had a vanilla creme brulee with coconut ice cream (£6.50), which he loved, while Alyson went for coffee and almond pannacotta with honey madeleines (£6). This had a slightly strange appearance that drew unkind comments but Alyson ignored us and said it was a perfect way to end the meal.
Barton Hall, Barton Road, Kettering
VALUE: Very good
FOOD: Beautifully presented and high quality
SERVICE: Friendly and professional
DISABLED ACCESS: Yes
COST OF OUR MEAL
FINAL TOTAL: £111.20 for four (with bottle of wine and one coffee)
Janet’s star rating: 8/10