Food review: Larkin's Bar, Newland Avenue, west Hull
Food Spy visits Larkin's Bar, west Hull ...
It feels like only yesterday when Larkin's Bar opened, so I was surprised to discover it has been part of Newland Avenue's eating and drinking scene for almost two years.
Having frequented the bar many times for its selection of real ales and craft beers, I decided it was high time I put their food offering to the test.
So, following recommendations from friends, my partner and I headed there one Thursday after work.
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We arrived just after 7.15pm and both the inside and the seating area to the front of the venue were buzzing with people however, unbeknown to me, there is a large beer garden to the rear, which was quiet. After picking up two pints of Great Newsome's Alelympic Gold and grabbing some menus, we headed to a large wooden table in the rear garden to enjoy the remainder of the evening sun.
It is quite hard to pigeon-hole Larkin's food offering. If you were on a journey between honest pub grub and fine restaurant quality, Larkin's would probably be somewhere near the middle of the two.
The menu features a wide variety of pies, pastas and speciality burgers, as well as steaks, salads and fish, all with a bit of a "posh" twist.
The cozza al cream starter (green lip mussels in a white wine sauce, with hot bread, £4.95) on the specials board instantly caught my eye, so I chose that while my partner went for the black pudding and apple stack (£4.50).
We were planning to eat outside but the British weather eventually put paid to that idea, so we headed inside, where the seats had continued to fill up.
Despite being quite full, the venue retained a laid-back, relaxed vibe.
I'm sure the surroundings – a cosy mix of green paint, bricks, natural wood and quirky old signs – help add to this.
We waited just over 25 minutes for the starters, which I think reflected Larkin's cook-from-scratch policy, as well as the number of diners who had arrived at the same time as us.
My starter consisted of a generous portion of mussels in shells, swimming in a steaming hot sauce.
Being a relatively new seafood fan, I still don't know my clams from my shrimps, so I was quite taken aback by the sheer size of the mussels. They were complemented nicely by the creamy sauce, although I had to ask the waitress to bring me some bread as none had arrived with our order.
My partner was equally impressed with his starter. I've come to realise if he says something is "nice" then it's OK-to- average, whereas if he uses descriptive words it means it's very good. If he turns into a wannabe AA Gill, then you can be sure the food is of top quality.
"The black pudding had a nice texture, it wasn't greasy, and the sharpness of the apple against the sweetness of the redcurrant really brought the flavours out," he quipped.
So he was impressed, then.
For the main course, I'd chosen the chicken rossini (chicken breast stuffed with paté, topped with rossini sauce, £8.45), which again was from the specials board. I've no idea what rossini sauce is but it was lovely, and proved a good match for the chicken.
The meal came with vegetables and either chipped potatoes or mash. I went for chipped potatoes, which were one of the highlights of the meal – thick, tasty and fluffy in the middle.
I'm quite a spice fan, so would have liked the vegetables to have a bit more of a kick, however my partner hoovered up his quicker than you can say "pass me the pepper, please".
He had plumped for the liver and sausage (£7.50). The liver, I was told, was "juicy and not at all stringy", and was quickly polished off along with the accompanying mashed potato and caramelised onion gravy.
After finishing our meals we enjoyed another cheeky half of Alelympic Gold while allowing our food to settle.
I failed to notice the signs for the Larkin's Special, where two people can have two courses for £19.95 from Monday to Thursday, but on checking my receipt I realised our meals had been put through at this price.
Needless to say, we enjoyed our meals even more when we realised we had paid less than expected for them.
Pre-bookings can only be made for parties of eight or more, which wasn't a problem for us as we only live ten minutes' walk away, but it's worth bearing in mind if you are travelling from further afield.
Having said that, the person who answered the phone did check how many bookings were in that night, and advised us we would probably be fine to just turn up, which we were.
Where: Larkin's Bar, 48 Newland Avenue, Hull.
Call: 01482 440991.
Open: Sunday to Thursday, from noon to 8.30pm; Friday and Saturday from noon to 8pm.
Accessibility: All on the ground floor.
Vegetarian: Good range of options.
Family friendly? Yes.
Parking: Nearby on-street parking.
On the menu
Whitebait: £4.50 Deep-fried whitebait with tartare sauce
Funghi gratinati: £4.24 Garlic mushrooms topped with cheese and served with a ciabatta
Mushroom and gorgonzola risotto: £7.25 Pan-fried mushrooms, creamy arborio rice finished with gorgonzola cheese
Steak Diane: £12.50 10oz steak cooked with mushrooms, onion, French mustard, red wine and cream.
Quality of food: Excellent.
Atmosphere: Laid-back and cosy.
Service: Very good.
Value for money: Excellent, particularly if you take advantage of the two courses for two people (£19.95) offer.
Best for: Post-work suppers and relaxed meals with friends.
Would you go again? Yes.
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