Sean and I are big fans of food. There's no two ways about it, if we had a choice between going to a nice restaurant and well...pretty much anything else, we'd take the food every time. Valentine's Day for us therefore, is just an excuse for us to go out for dinner and not feel guilty about it - plus Sean's been away with work for the last two so he had to make it up to me this year!
We left planning our little outing a bit late this year, and I eventually had to seek help from the girls in my office as everywhere we had checked was either fully booked or a total rip off (if a restaurant that usually charges £25 for a set menu suddenly charges £90 on the 14th I'm so not down with that). Hoxley and Porter was the option we settled for - and even then the latest we could get a table was at 4:15 in the afternoon.
The restaurant itself is based on an old fashioned train dining carriage, long and narrow with wicker fans and low hanging ceiling lights. We were the first in, and got comfy in a booth at the very front. We'd opted for the Valentine's Set Menu as it was a pretty reasonable £40 per person including a glass of bubbly, which we were presented with as we sat down.
Along with the bubbly came the complimentary oysters, which neither of us were particularly sure of. I can now say that I have tasted an oyster - if drowning it in shallot vinegar and swallowing it whole counts as tasting one. My goats cheese salad starter was nice, but had been rather overwhelmingly drenched in balsamic vinegar - Sean was a big fan of his scallops with crispy bacon though.
I'd go back and pay another forty quid just for the main alone - seared fillet of beef with creamy mash, kale and peppercorn sauce. It was perfectly cooked (I like my cow still moo-ing) and the mashed potato was gorgeous. I'm salivating slightly just looking at the photographs, I have to say. The shared chocolate fondue dessert was simple and would have been difficult to get wrong, but was perfect for Valentine's. It even distracted Sean enough that he didn't notice the man next to us proposing to his girlfriend until my high pitched squeal and smack on the arm drew his attention.
I'd definitely go back to Hoxley and Porter - they've got a killer cocktail list so I'd love to head there with some of my girlfriends next time for an alcohol fuelled chat. I'd also like to give a special shout out to our waitress, who might have been a teensy bit confused at times but was blindingly cheerful throughout regardless!