THE last time we dined out, we ended up at McDonald’s and on the way home had to stop to deliver a calf when one of our cows got into difficulty!

But to celebrate my birthday/wedding anniversary, hubby decided on a mystery venue for a cosy dinner. It’s been a while since we ventured to The Fence Gate Inn. Last time it was a high end restaurant, bit pricey but good. It now has The Topiary Brassiere and on sultry summer night, it was busy with diners sporting healthy tans.

For starter I chose the goat’s cheese tart with beetroot. Hubby felt fishy so plumped for tempura prawns.

For mains we both hit on the pork belly with seasonal veg and mash, and, to wash it down, a bottle of a South American white (hubby was a bit mysterious about it and wouldn’t tell me how much it was).

The tart was light, warm and creamy with that distinctive goat’s cheese tang. The beetroot was sliced so it was transparent and a beetroot relish added an extra dimension.

The prawns looked a picture on the plate and there was an added kick with a spicy sauce.

Portions are often a problem; we are reasonably big eaters and there is nothing worse than having to grab a snack at home.

No problems with the mains. A tempting chunk of pork belly with crackling that made the knife echo. The meat was moist, the potatoes smooth and the vegetables still had a bite. That could all be down to the fact they chose only local produce.

The staff were attentive and helpful – even when I asked for a glass of tap water.

I declined a pud but greedy guts went for a bread and butter pudding. It must have tasted good because I wasn’t offered a spoonful!

The bill came to just over £70, and it was a very happy birthday/anniversary.


Food: 8

Drink: 8

Service: 7

Atmosphere: 8

Value: 8