My Foodie radar peaked recently, seeing pictures emerging on Twitter of stunning food, artfully plated up, captured by diners at a restaurant called The Broad Face, in Abingdon; I'd never heard of the place before, but it looked intriguing.
'C', one of my closest and oldest friends, lives in Abingdon, but we'd rarely dined there; I'd eaten in a couple of average Abingdon pubs before and 'C' had taken me to local 'night club' Strattons on the way home from a night out (I won't go into detail, for the sake of decency, but sticky is the only description that jumps to mind!), so my view of Abingdon wasn't one of culture and gastronomy. So, due to our 'interesting' history here, 'C' was the obvious companion to investigate further; MiniF, 'C', and her boyfriend 'P' in tow, we booked in for a spot of midweek lunch.
Calling ahead the day before, to arrange the booking and request a high chair, I was disappointed to hear they don't have high chairs - although I was told the chef could cook anything I might like for MiniF. Strange to think they would be so accommodating with the food but not provide somewhere for children to sit. I booked anyway, deciding to take a collapsible high chair with me - not ideal but much better than trying to sit MiniF at the table in his buggy (he would be at least a foot to low & would not be a happy bunny).
Arriving a few minutes early, I found a car park - as advised when I booked, just to the side of the restaurant; although, as it turned out, with a parking meter. I didn't envisage this, so hadn't brought any coins with me. Handbag, wallet and car all tipped up and shook, I scraped together just enough to cover the cost of parking (max 2 hours available). Phew. Mild panic over, I packed a sleepy MiniF into his buggy and made my way into the restaurant.
On first impression, the place is lovely - flooded with light from a large front window, furnished with rustic wooden tables and chairs, and complimented by an earthy decor of pale wooden floors, dark olive panelling and cream walls. Our table was booked for 12 o'clock, so fairly early for lunch, although I was very surprised to see the place completely empty.
MiniF happily chilling in his buggy, I left the high chair in the car; soon joined by 'C' and 'P', we ordered our drinks and got to work on the menu.
While pondering the menus, we were served some beautifully presented bread, with butter and salt, all artfully displayed on a slate tile - this is just how I like butter to be served, with salt on the side so you can season to your liking. With 'Luncheon', 'Set Lunch' and 'A la Carte' options available, there was plenty to choose from: scotch eggs to snails, steak on toast to lemon sole, confit duck to pig cheeks - you won't find it difficult to find something you want to try. 'C' and 'P' both selected the Steak on Toast with Melted Onions, Salad and Chips (£9.50 each), while I chose the Pig Cheeks, Lentils and Roasting Juices (£6/£9).
|Freshly Baked Bread (provided by Dan Degustibus bakery)|
The menus proudly boast that all their food is sourced from the best suppliers, produced to the highest standards in-house, fresh every day to order; and advises that, due to the freshness of their products, some waiting can occur.... Don't worry though, this little Foodie didn't have to wait too long for her food. I hadn't checked my watch once when the food arrived, a good indicator that it wasn't long. The Steak on Toast (basically a steak sandwich) looked great, but I'm pretty sure 'C' and 'P' were looking at my Pig Cheeks with a slightly green tinge, as it looked amazing...
|Steak on Toast with Melted Onions, Salad and Chips|
|Pig Cheeks, Lentils and Roasting Juices (large portion)|
On tucking into the Pig Cheeks, I was very pleased to discover it wasn't just style over substance - the meat was tender, flavoursome and delicious, slow cooked and melt in the mouth; the accompanying vegetables were all well paired and perfectly cooked; the sauces (meat juices, an apple purée and, I'm guessing, pea purée) completing the dish wonderfully. The serving of pig cheeks was incredibly generous, so much so that 'C', 'P' and MiniF were all allowed to indulge without me feeling overly possessive.
The Steak on Toast was also going down well: the meat was served pink (I'll come back to this) in more of the earlier fresh bread; the chips tasty and well cooked; the salad... well, not much you can say about a side salad really. Back to the meat - I, personally, like my steak served pink, however I appreciate not everyone does. There was no request, on ordering the food, how 'C' and 'P' would like theirs cooked - I'm fine with steak being automatically served pink, but it's certainly a sticking point for others, so just a minor point on their behalf. 'C' also found some of her steak a little too chewy.
Half way through our food, as I could have predicted, MiniF decided he was fed up of sitting in the buggy, so off I went to fetch the high chair. On asking the waiter if they minded me bringing in our own high chair, I was advised they had been out and bought one since we spoke the previous day - talk about great customer service! As a full time Mum, I know plenty of parents like me who like to eat out, with children in tow, during the week and weekends - so it's pretty vital to have at least one high chair available (I'll need two soon please).
Anyway, I digress.
Very happy with our mains and with some time to spare, we took a look at the dessert menu. The only option for me, while pregnant, was a Berry Crumble, so ordered this. 'P' requested a Mango and Passion Fruit Cheesecake, and 'C' a coffee.
|Mango & Passion Fruit Cheesecake|
I wasn't able to sample the Cheesecake, but it was a thing of beauty and, I was told, tasted just as good. The Berry Crumble was delicious, although a little too sharp for my taste; I prefer a little more crumble with my berry, so finished once I'd consumed the prior.
Coming to just shy of £55, the food was fantastic value given the quality and presentation. The chef here, Michael Riemenschneider, not only knows how to cook delicious food, he also has an expert eye for presentation. The service, also, was incredibly good - charming and professional. Under new ownership since February this year, The Broad Face thoroughly deserves the good reputation being currently built up on-line - I'll definitely be back, most likely more than once... especially now I know they have a high chair. I'm also looking at Abingdon differently and look forward to finding some more local gems, I wonder though if any can outshine the new Broad Face.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Whilst three more tables did fill up while we were eating, there was still plenty of room available for lunch; so spread the word people - this is one place you need to try!
30-32 Bridge Street