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The Black Rat

Belgian, Modern European·
££££
·
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SquareMeal Review of The Black Rat

“Original, delicious, friendly - and unpretentious!” exclaimed a fan of The Black Rat – a sympathetically remodelled town boozer in the centre of historic Winchester. Old beams and timbers, dark floorboards, exposed brickwork and a big inglenook reinforce its antiquated charms. Menus aren’t short on appeal or imagination, and the forward-looking repertoire is built around locally sourced, seasonal produce (including foraged pickings): expect generosity and punchy flavours in dishes such as cured trout and Portland crab with avocado, girolles, sweetcorn dressing, cornbread and arrowgrass or chicken breast with radish-top purée, salt-baked radishes, sautéed chicken offal, sourdough toast and jus gras. Desserts are also a good call, if beech-leaf parfait with pine granita, blossom crème fraîche and pine nuts is anything to go by. “Really knowledgeable staff” also get the nod.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Belgian, Modern European
Ambience
Cosy, Lively, Traditional
People
Special occasions

Location

88 Chesil Street, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 0HX

01962 844465 01962 844465

Website

Opening Times

Sat-Sun 12N-2.15pm, Mon-Sun 7-9.30pm

Reviews

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2 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Andrew F

05 April 2019  
Excellent food and a nice relaxed ambience. Good value for money.

Paul A

29 April 2015  
Food & Drink 3
Service 3
Atmosphere 3
Value 3
Regrets
After an absence of some months from what used to be our local, we were very interested to see how things had developed, especially in view of the promise shown by Ollie Moore after his inheritance of a Michelin star. Developments there had indeed been, but not in any way that we could have predicted. What we found was something of a move back to traditionalism, even reminiscent of meat and two veg, with heartier portions than previously, perhaps to counter possible moans about prices. We had to question whether this was progress and whether a deliberate policy had been imposed to shift from refinement and invention to a possibly mistaken conception of just what the punters want to shell out for in a one-star restaurant. In the absence of any amuse-bouche, the three of us opted for different starters from the interesting-looking menu choices. One, the local smoked eel with pea and mint, was very good, the second, "lamb bits", basically pulled meat put together into a generous single entity with wild onion and sprinkled with olive powder, asparagus and excellent fried sweetbread nuggets, was an uneven mixture of good and not so good, and the third, very nice shaved beef tongue with unnecessary bresaola, jokey beef tomatoes and hay cream, was disappointingly underseasoned. There then followed something of a hiatus in the service, although my wife's Sauvignon/Semillon to go with the chicken she had ordered had been brought very quickly after the starter. The lovely and again sizeable helping of Iberico pork, although tasty and tender, was lukewarm at best, possibly a consequence of the delay, and its accompanying smoked potato blocks were curiously crispy on the outside but quite soggy on the inside. At least the roasted almonds were right. The hearty piece of chicken was cooked well, but both the meat and the vegetables, broad beans, morels and "sweetcorn" polenta (isn't polenta always made from corn?), provided another example of careless underseasoning. Unusually for us, desserts were refused because we were actually full. It disappointed us that what we had found lacking on our last vist, namely a tasting menu, a decent wine list, the current edition still appearing almost to be pitched deliberately for an undiscerning clientele, and specialised front of house staff, had not been remedied. In overall terms the thought was prompted that if this had been our first visit it might have persuaded us not to return.

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