For people, including myself, who have been born and raised in Swindon we all know that the Weighbridge Brewhouse is a household name for fine dining – whether you agree or not, it’s just what it’s always been known for. But changes in management, and new dishes on trial, have left people saying that it’s failing to “hit the mark”. So, needless to say a meal out on Saturday has left me with some food for thought.
The Weighbridge Brewhouse has reopened today – just in case you didn’t know - and ahead of its relaunch a selection of local businesses, loyal customers and press were invited for a complimentary dry run of the new menus.
Before arriving last Saturday my party and I had discussed a missed opportunity of live music in the upstairs piano bar, so much to our delight a live band gently played and created a sophisticated atmosphere from the outset. The introduction of the new cocktail bar has also implemented a more bougie feel to the space – something, until recently, which had been really lacking in Swindon, so it was great to see this historic establishment add in some contemporary features.
Upon arrival you’re immediately hit by new design changes, with fabulous touches – from fake grass and cute flower pots outside, to colourful touches on the upholstering and illuminated maple trees on the inside. In this regard the Weighbridge is wonderfully enticing and not as stiff as it once looked.
As a party of four consisting of two meat eaters, a pescatarian and a vegan we were able to take on a variety of dishes on this slightly smaller, but still very vast, menu. For starters we opted for wild mushrooms on toast - without egg - (£8.50), pan fried king prawns (£9.50) and two of the Cornish crab and catfish cocktail (£10.50 each). This was then followed by two 9oz steak filets (£35 each), a whole native lobster with thermidor sauce (£38) and Superfood salad (£12.50).
As a rule of thumb, I tend to stay away from fish dishes unless it’s a relatively fresh catch, but when you’re offered a free meal it would be unconscionable not to go in for a whole lobster. Appearance wise I couldn’t fault it but taste wise it was okay. Just okay. In hindsight I should have opted for the Brixham plaice, or even the ale battered market fish, because unless you’re a speciality fish restaurant the lobster isn’t something just to have on the menu to make it feel fancy. I ate it, for sure, but wasn’t amazed nor outraged by the dish (with a side of fries and dressed salad).
Meanwhile the overall rating of the steaks was that they were “enjoyable” but the chaps wouldn't have paid £35 for the meal. However, the Weighbridge have brought back the Dauphinoise potatoes which was a particular highlight as a side dish for both diners.
Our vegan diner enjoyed the mushroom starter but was not mind-blown by the Superfood salad. As someone who eats vegan meals frequently at home using cook books such as BOSH! and Dirty Vegan, it shouldn’t be too hard for chefs to put together a colourful and exciting salad. So, unfortunately my vegan guest said the Superfood salad wasn’t “exactly mind-blowing” but a side order of sweet potato fries managed to ‘beef’ it up. Had it not been so hot on that scorching Saturday she would have gone for the vegetable Goan curry – so, in theory, a different experience could have been had.
Unfortunately, they were out of the sorbet so two of us opted for a glass of prosecco for dessert as we weren’t feeling indulgent in the heat, and the other two had the loaded ice cream sundae – devoured with no complaints. We then decided to head outside for a final cocktail in the front garden. At £7.50 per drink there’s room for improvement but having worked behind a cocktail bar in London it’s clear that just a bit more training is required.
The main aspect that I took away from Saturday’s dinner was that some faith has been restored in this restaurant. Having taken on comments from previous errors, it is apparent the team are actually really trying to bring this place back to its former glory - with some chic new touches. All in the all the staff were a delight, and I genuinely hope the Weighbridge Brewhouse takes off under this new refurb because it has a lot of potential!
In a few weeks’ time I’d be happy to give it another go and encourage others to show some support for the local eatery and its team.
For further information and the full menu visit www.weighbridgebrewhouse.co.uk