DINING OUT: Wildwood, Kettering

Wildwood, Kettering
Wildwood, Kettering

Kettering’s restaurant quarter has had some mixed news of late.

The town’s branch of Chimichanga, along with every other one across the country, closed earlier this year leaving a prominent site vacant for the time being.

But to compensate the pizza, pasta and burger chain Wildwood opened last year, taking over the unit previously occupied by the much-loved Mr Ray store.

The Royal Restaurant and bar in Market Place is open again.

Plans have been submitted to redevelop the Naseby Hotel in Sheep Street to include a restaurant.

And if you stretch the concept of a restaurant quarter both geographically and in culinary terms, the vegan cafe Pure Morning has opened up on the corner of Market Street and High Street.

It was at Wildwood where my wife Karen and I met Janet and Adrian for an evening meal conveniently scheduled for the first rest day of the World Cup.

Surprised to have arrived first for once, we were shown to our table near to the kitchens.

Concerned about the heat on what was already a very warm evening, when we asked if we could be moved we were told that it actually gets hotter at the front of the restaurant and that we would be better off staying where we were.

We needn’t have worried and, in fact, were feeling quite chilled when the time came to leave thanks to the air conditioning.

The table service throughout was prompt and attentive without being annoyingly so, commendable as there were a couple of larger parties eating in that night too.

We didn’t have long to wait for our companions to arrive, and were soon ready to order.

Although the range of dishes on offer is quite broad, the menu isn’t so extensive that you have trouble deciding what to choose.

For starters Karen and I shared a plate of antipasti, while Janet had the arancini (red pepper, basil and mozzarella with spiced arrabbiata dipping sauce) and Adrian went for the bruschetta with smashed avocado, sun kissed tomato, torn mozzarella and basil salad.

Four empty plates later, we all agreed the food was fine but nothing out of the ordinary - and it was the same with the main courses too.

Janet declared herself happy with her tagliatelle, which came with aubergine, tomatoes, basil, spinach and Gran Moravia cheese.

I had no major complaints about my calzone carne either, although the flavours were a bit indistinct given the various fillings.

Both Adrian and Karen had the same quibble with their meals, however - the pizza dough.

Adrian’s thin and crispy wild mushroom pizza was certainly thin but not that crispy, while Karen’s courgette and goat’s cheese calzone was very doughy to the point it was almost difficult to eat.

The desserts were probably the most disappointing course - the Eton mess was low on berry content and the lemon and banoffee sundaes similarly bland.

But the standard of the food didn’t detract in the slightest from what was an entertaining and enjoyable night out with friends.

Wildwood is a pleasant if unspectacular addition to Kettering’s town centre – and sometimes that’s all you need.