DISH DETECTIVE: New restaurant hits the mark for hungry business peopleÂ
The swanky new Village Hotel in Northarbour opened in early November with the aim of providingÂ a hub for business professionals.Â
There's a gym, a pub, and a restaurant as well as rooms.
It's just a few hundreds yards away fromÂ the Lakeside business complex which is teeming with thousands of workers - hungry workers.
And many of them '“Â solicitors, bankers, and, yes, journalists '“Â like nothing more than dinner and drinks after work.Â
At the moment they can either grab something before the canteen closesÂ or perhaps pick up a toasted sandwhich from Starbucks.
There was a sitting market for a really good restaurant.Â
Clearly, then, the Village Grill restaurantÂ would have to hit the mark to meetÂ the high expectations of businessmen and women.Â My job was to see whether that was being achieved.
Walking into the restaurant I noted an atmosphere that I rarely get the chance to enjoy. The mood lighting created a reallyÂ calm ambience, added to by the candles laid out on every table.
It's not everyday that you go into a restaurant and don't see a single child, but in this instance it plays to the target demographic of the venue perfectly.
Having the bar in the middle of the room is a nice touch - it really brings it alive.
Live sport on the televisions may not be to everyone's taste but it is mine. And no matter where you sit you can see a screen.
One thing I noticed on the menu was the '˜club' section - which offers nutritionally-balanced dishes with a lower calorie count.Â I think it's great that the restaurant does this, since it ties-in nicely with the gym upstairs.
For my starter I ordered the tomato and mozzarella stack (Â£7) which came with a basil and rocket salad and pesto dressing.
It looked genuinely impressive, with the stack perfectly centred on the plate.
The tomato tasted incredibly fresh, with a really crisp flavour to it, and the dish was well-seasoned.
I also enjoyed the basil and rocket salad, with the pesto dressing really balancing the dish quite nicely.
But something that did catch me by surpriseÂ wasÂ that it comes cold, intentionally. I feel as though choosing not to grill the tomato and mozzarella is a missed opportunity.
This is the sort of cheese that is best served after a bit of time underÂ the grill '“Â it just helps to open up the flavours.Â
For my main course, I opted for the black pepper crusted fillet steak (Â£18.50) which came in an Asian broth with bok choi, Chinese cabbage, chillies and spring onion.
The steak came out rare, which is exactly how a steak should be cooked.Â It was beautifullyÂ tender and pulled apart with ease.
With black pepper being a key ingredient in this dish, I was concerned that it may become the overpowering flavour; but the dish held its balance, with the flavour of the meat bursting through.
Despite sitting in a broth, the vegetables were nice and crunchy, which I was pleased about. Again, they had a fresh taste to them and were well-seasoned.
The food came to a total price of Â£25.50, which is reasonable given the customers the restaurant is aiming for.
I was a little irked by the fact I was charged for the water. Had I known, I would have asked for tap water instead to try and circumvent that.
I think business professionals staying in the hotel and those at Lakeside who want dinner and drinks after a hard day's work,Â will thoroughly appreciate the atmosphere.