99 Station Street, Burton-on-Trent Restaurant Review

There was no danger of not being able to find 99 Station Street – winner of Taste of Staffordshire's 'Newcomer of the Year Award' and runner-up in 'Brasserie of the Year' in 2008.

There was no danger of not being able to find 99 Station Street – winner of Taste of Staffordshire’s ‘Newcomer of the Year Award’ and runner-up in ‘Brasserie of the Year’ in 2008. Just down from the railway station in Burton upon Trent, the restaurant’s smart new frontage made it easy to spot in a row of assorted shops and businesses. Inside was equally elegant, appropriately decorated with avocado and aubergine striped wallpaper. The large front window let in the summer evening light, giving an informal feel, although the table settings, with some contemporary cutlery, sparkling glassware, linen napkins and mini salt and pepper mills, were as sophisticated as you’d find anywhere.

One efficient waitress, Helen McWheeney, was managing the front of house with ease, never seeming rushed and with plenty of time to smile and discuss the menu. This produced one of those dithering moments we've become accustomed to. A note on the foot of the page announced the restaurant’s policy of using fresh, seasonal produce, locally sourced, and everything on offer sounded imaginatively thought out by a chef – Daniel Pilkington, resident since January – who knew what he was doing. The soup of the day (�3.95) bore this out – celery and spring onion served with a cro�ton topped with Hartington Blue cheese, a taste combination made in heaven. I’d thought the home-cured maple-smoked duck with pink grapefruit, port wine dressing, and served with an endive and carrot salad (�5.95) sounded delicious, but obviously others had had the same idea and I had to watch the very last one being ferried to a nearby table. Instead I chose salmon and spinach roulade with fresh herbs, chilli, sweetcorn and spring onion salsa (�5.25). There was also a baked cro�te of goat’s cheese topped with tomato and red onion relish, and rocket salad (�4.95) or home-made chicken liver pat� scented with thyme and Cointreau and served with red onion marmalade and Melba toast, at the same price.

Luckily, being a little peckish, we didn’t have long to wait for our first courses. My partner, who had gone with the chef’s recommendation of the soup, thought that the creamy marriage of the subtle vegetables was perfectly complemented by the bite of the cheese and the crunch of the cro�ton. My roulade made a pretty plate, pink and green spirals of salmon and spinach punctuated with fluffy leaves and sprinkled with tiny pieces of chilli, sweetcorn and spring onion, all in a tangy dressing.

For our main course I’d assumed my partner would choose the char-grilled Bromley Hurst rib-eye steak, with potato wafers and a cream sauce of mushroom, brandy and mustard, but he was in a fishy mood and selected pan-fried turbot. Chicken and pork dishes, both at �11.95, were also on the menu, each with a different accompaniment of complementary flavours. As ever I couldn’t resist a nice piece of lamb – this time served with a courgette, aubergine and tomato ‘tower’ and a red wine reduction. This was a rack of Stockley Park lamb (�14.95) and has to rate among the best I have eaten, juicy and with delicate crispy skin. The tower was intensely flavoured – perhaps a little too intensely for me, as the balance on the fork between meat and veg had to be finely judged to prevent the fine flavour of the meat from being overwhelmed. No such worries with the accompaniment, a medley of tiny new potatoes and root vegetables, simply prepared and perfectly seasoned. My partner’s turbot, priced at �14.95, came on a little hill of saut� potatoes with locally-cured bacon pieces – a lovely, slightly salty counterpoint to the fish – and baby onions. Chive cr�me fra�che melded it all together in a most satisfactory way. A vegetarian dish of courgette tart, topped with goat’s cheese and served with a carrot and endive salad (�9.95) was also available. A couple of glasses of house wine went well with the meal.

With our puddings (all but the cheese board are priced at �4.95), we had an unexpectedly large glass of dessert wine, La Fleur de Fongrave 2006, a medium Bordeaux, ‘a light silvery colour with a floral bouquet, and a taste of white peach and mango with an enhanced, refreshing sweet finish’. Unable to resist something else sweet to finish, we shared a warm bread and butter pudding with brandy-soaked fruits and very real custard, and a set Bailey’s cheesecake with cracked cinder toffee and caramel sauce. The latter I chose more in hope than expectation, as while I love Bailey’s served in a glass over ice, I’ve never been able to discern its flavour in any other guise. This was no exception, although the texture was light and creamy and the cinder toffee was fabuolous. The bread and butter pudding was hoovered up speedily but the one mouthful I tried was comfortingly light and reassuringly alcoholic.

To follow I had a perfect cup of espresso, which was conveniently served with four large chunks of fudge. We’d have happily ordered the coffee just for the fudge, a perfect end to a lovely meal.

99 Station Street, Burton upon Trent DE14 1BTTel:01283 516859                                                  www.99stationstreet.com

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