Hidden away above a casino in Commercial Street, Clary’s in Northampton is a real gem that doesn’t appear to have been fully discovered just yet.
My girlfriend and I find it impossible to go somewhere without perusing the menu beforehand, and our sneak peek left us excited to sample their food.
Deciding to visit on a Saturday night we booked a table, fully expecting it to be full after hearing great things, but were surprised to find it half-empty.
That was no bad thing however, as it meant there was a relaxing atmosphere and we were given full attention by our very friendly Scottish waitress Aileen.
When the chips are down, Clary’s is a real payday treat and possesses a carefully-balanced mix of fine dining and home favourites to suit everyone.
Dishes range from traditional burgers and steaks to terrines and risottos, with a variety of sides and extras.
We both class ourselves as ‘foodies’ and ventured out by starting our dinner with some seafood.
I went for the scallops with pea puree and bacon, while Natalie chose the king prawns with chorizo.
The dishes were the perfect size for a starter and were devoured within a matter of minutes.
It was the first time I’d had scallops cooked by someone other than me, and it pains me to say that they were far better than my efforts.
Natalie’s prawns were beautifully complimented by the spicy chorizo, with bread served to mop up the oil.
There was a pleasant array of wines available, and after a long week we were both more than happy to oblige with a glass of Chenin Blanc which supplemented our food well.
The wine was reasonably priced too, with a medium glass costing £4.
What usually annoys me in restaurants is the wait between starters and mains, but this was not a problem at Clary’s.
Just ten minutes after our plates were cleared we received our mains, which despite being slightly pricy were great value for money considering the portion sizes.
I chose the sea bass, which came with prawn garlic butter and crushed potatoes, while Natalie picked the chicken with pesto and parma ham on a bed of wild mushrooms.
We were surprised when our waitress came out with a mound of sauteed potatoes and baby veg on the side, but far from complaining.
The fish was delicate and full of flavour, with the chicken moist and perfectly complemented by the earthy mushrooms.
Our only gripe was the insistence of decorating the plate with tasteless purple leaves, but the food itself more than made up for this slight annoyance.
Neither of us could quite finish our main but as always, there’s space for pudding with me.
There isn’t a huge selection of desserts, but those on offer are mouth-watering - I went for the chocolate souffle with cherry compote.
Natalie pulled the classic “I’m full so I won’t get one” line before eating half of mine, stealing a spoonful every time I glanced away.
The souffle itself was rich and creamy and oozing with melting chocolate, with the compote sweet and fruity.
It also came with a handful of strawberries and redcurrants on the side, which was an added bonus.
Our waitress informed us that it was the chef’s first attempt at making it, so hats off to him.
As we wiped the chocolate from our lips - you can’t take us anywhere - we concluded we’d made a pretty good choice in going to Clary’s.
All in all, the food was tasty, the portions were big and it was great value for money.
If only our choices in the casino afterwards were as good...