[Ballasalla, Isle of Man] The Abbey
We went with no great expectations but it was one of those places that, as soon as you sit down, you know you’ve picked a good ‘un. There’s staff who just exude hospitality and competence in their craft. And there’s a good looking “modern Brit” menu, heavily featuring Manx produce.
Seemingly unusual for the island, my scallop starter featured kings, instead of the almost ubiquitous queenies which seem to appear in some form or another on just about every menu. Here, three big fat juicy specimens, grilled on their shell, with roe attached, were pretty much perfect. Each had been given a good slosh of hazelnut butter, the little nibs of nut adding a pleasant texture contrast. Pork and pistachio terrine was also pretty good. Perhaps a little light on seasoning for my partner’s taste but there was compensation in the kitchen made piccalilli.
Sometimes, all you really want to eat is something simple. As in steak, chips and salad. Sirloin seasoned and cooked perfectly. Chips properly chip sized and cooked to an excellent semi-crisp, just retaining a little floppiness. But it was the simple green salad that was a star. An interesting selection of leaves, grown organically only a couple of miles away and delivered daily to the restaurant. A good dressing that might have been improved by a dollop of mustard. But, overall, a lovely plate of food.
My own plate was described as a pork Wellington and was, to my mind, superbly crafted. Generally crisp pastry (a bit soggy on the underside) enclosed some loin. Topping that was a layer of shredded Savoy cabbage, which was itself topped with shredded ham hock. The Wellington was pretty much a complete dish in itself but there was a single fondant potato and a nice sweetish cider/cream sauce which worked well
It’s not fancy cooking but it is good cooking. The sort of place which you wished existed near where you live.