A NEARLY empty restaurant on a Saturday night does not bode well, especially for a relatively new one. That's a shame, because Poet's Brasserie, now an Italian and formerly a Korean, is a delightful find.
The food is superby cooked and presented, the interior intimate and cosy. It does need more customers to create that essential ambiance, but maybe that will come as word gets out. The bistro tables outside give it a continental feel, which should prove a boost once the warmer weather comes.
The portions are extremely generous so we shared a starter of deep fried mushrooms with garlic mayonnaise (£4) and a rocket garnish. We both thought the dip was delicious with a good consistency - they can so often be runny - and I loved the crunch of the non-greasy batter, but my husband Michael thought it too hard.
To follow, Michael had pan-fried calves' liver in red wine and butter sauce with mushrooms and spinach (£13.80) which he said was 'cooked as it should be" complemented by the garlicky mushrooms.
I had seabass fillet with mixed shellfish in a white wine sauce and baby spinach and potato: a perfect mix of taste and texture and the biggest mussels I had seen in a long while.
Although the mains come with vegetables we did need extra potatoes, but these are reasonably priced and arrived quickly. There is also an imaginative selection of pasta and regular specials which, the night we went, included grilled swordfish on a bed of couscous.
Too full for two desserts, we shared a giant chunk of that Italian favourite, tiramisu (£3.90) which was creamy and light, without being overwhelming.
The staff, mainly young, were charming but a little over-attentive, eager to take our orders and pour the wine before we had settled down, but
this could be because of the lack of customers to serve rather than a need for more training. They did ring us in advance to warn us their licence had
run out and we could bring our own wine.
It turned out this is because they want to change the licence so they
can have live music on a Sunday.
While Poet's Brasserie is a work in progress, give it a bit more time and its food will speak volumes.