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Historic former merchant’s house offers varied menu in classy yet relaxed setting

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One of my bugbears as someone who does not eat meat or dairy is that so many places price vegan dishes the same as everything else on the menu when they really should be a little cheaper.So three cheers for the Bank House, who acknowledge that vegetables and pulses cost significantly less than meat and price their dishes accordingly.My wife and I visited the stunning former Georgian townhouse on Saturday evening and were straight away impressed by the relaxed, convivial atmosphere. Groups were drinking and chatting, couples and families eating and hotel guests were on their laptops. The place is classy and yet very relaxed.

Josi’s smoked duck starter
My starter of cauliflower fritters

Having arrived a few minutes early, we were invited to choose drinks from the bar while our table was set. Although the choice seemed plentiful, including cocktails, I was driving and my wife observing ‘Dry January’ so it was a pint of orange juice and lemonade for me (£3.10) and a regular diet coke for Josi (£1.90), while we sipped water with our meal.After being shown to a corner table which gave us a lovely view of the rest of the historic old 18th Century room, we were handed menus.There were various interesting starters including oysters, duck, prawns, fritters, cheese balls, salmon and mussels and they were all around the £9-10 mark. I went for cauliflower fritters with a chimichurri sauce (£8) while Josi chose a smoked duck, beetroot and fig salad (£9).

I had a chickpea and black-eyed been curry for my main course
My wife’s roast pork belly main course

Main courses included roasted lamb, squash, pan-fried chicken, linguini, curry, sea bass and mussels alongside classics such as pies, burgers, steaks, ‘catch of the day’ and pork, ranging from £14 to £31, with the vegan and veggie choices from £14 to £19.I went for the chickpea and black-eyed bean curry with spinach, courgette and mint fritters, basmati rice, a large popadom and mango chutney (£15) and my wife plumped for the roast pork belly with burnt apple puree, fine beans, fondant potato and bacon crumbs (£25).The list of desserts on offer included chocolate brownie, Eton Mess, berry creme brulee, ice creams, sorbets and cheeses. I was full but greedy so had three scoops (champagne, lemon and raspberry) of sorbet (£4.50) while Josi had the Raspberry Eton Mess (£6).What I really liked about the menu was the variety and my favourite dish was my starter, with the fresh, firm cauliflower in a lovely light batter, complemented perfectly by bright, lightly spiced sauce. My main course was presented beautifully, the portion was generous and the fritters something I’d never had before, although I’d have preferred a bit more of a kick to the flavour, while my dessert was as refreshing and light as you’d expect from a sorbet.

My champagne, lemon and raspberry sorbet scoops
Josi’s Raspberry Eton Mess

It was the desert that got top marks from Josi, who described her Eton Mess as ‘absolutely gorgeous’. She said her starter was ‘beautifully presented’ and that the combination of duck, beetroot and fig went perfectly together, while her main was also very tasty.All in all our bill came to £72.50 which, for three courses each and drinks, all enjoyed in a wonderful setting, I thought was perfectly reasonable.Ratings out of five:Food: Varied menu and tasty, well-presented food. ****Drink: We were boring, but the choice looked decent. ***Price: Only the pork dish was on the pricey side. ***Staff: Friendly and courteous throughout. ****Decor: Comfortable and understated. ****

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