As you have probably noticed, I haven’t posted one of these reviews for ages. If you read my last two posts, you will probably know why. But far from allowing my changed circumstances to hinder my output any further, I thought I’d turn it around and use it to my advantage.
Fortunately The Girlfriend likes dining out as much as I do, and over the last few weeks I’ve noticed she is clued up on food and very observant when it comes to small details that even I sometimes miss. So the other week when I took her out to dinner for our two month anniversary (how sad are we!!) I thought I’d ask for her help in writing a review of the place. So this is our first joint review. Here goes…
Italian Food Thats Worth Staying Home For
142 Walton Road, East Molesey, Surrey
We decided on an Italian place in Molesey (the place I now call home). For a town its size, Molesey has a fairly good selection of restaurants featuring all the staples such as Indian, Chinese and traditional British grub, as well as a French bistro called the Smoking Dog which looks somewhat out of place. But we chose this place as her Aunt, Uncle and Cousins go there regularly and it is meant to be pretty good (although judging by her uncle’s taste in hats we should not really be listening to him).
For a place which comes so highly recommended, we both expected it to be heaving on a Friday night however we were seated immediately at one of the four outside tables, however they had given us a wonky one and when the drinks came it turned into something of a balancing act. We mentioned it to the waiting staff and were told that it would be sorted out for us. The Girlfriend’s laser eyes activated and she started to pick up on things – the tablecloth was dirty, the cutlery looked like it had been used, and the ashtray was full (although neither of us smoke).
Normally, this would be enough to get me heading for the door. But we were both hungry and I was quite excited to try the food as it had such a high recommendation. Unfortunately we had to wait nearly an hour to be served, despite the fact that there were only about ten other people there. Luckily they eventually got round to fixing our table before a plate of bread with olive oil arrived. By now it was starting to get late so we decided to pass on a starter and go straight for the main courses. The Girlfriend was feeling a bit under the weather so she went for a Margherita pizza and I opted for the Seafood Risotto.
The Girlfriend had to resort to soaking her pizza in flavoured olive oil and heaps of salt and pepper, as in her opinion it was lacking in flavour or anything that resembled flavour. When I pulled her up on this, she handed me a slice which had escaped most of the oil shower and when I tasted it I could see why. The cold, sorry-looking triangle was incredibly bland and overcooked to the point where it was crunchy throughout. Normally I don’t mind a bit of crunch on the crusts but this was ridiculous. We did not think that it was possible for anybody with half a brain to fuck up a Margherita pizza that badly, let alone an Italian restaurant. After further research, we have discovered an establishment on the same row of shops that actually does a better Margherita. It’s called Tesco’s.
My seafood risotto was a little better, however it was also a bit on the cold side. The seafood in question (according to the menu, anyway) was ‘prawns, mussels, clams and squid’. They all tasted fresh, however I was a bit disappointed that there was only one prawn, which itself was buried at the bottom of the dish and was left for me to de-shell myself. This I am more than happy to do. In fact, as a nipper the landlord of my Grandad’s local used to put me to work on a Sunday morning shelling a whole bucket of prawns for 50p a pop (nothing like child labour). So I know my way around a prawn. Hehe.
The problem I had was that I did not realise this thing was lurking under there until about halfway through the dish, and while I had been frantically slashing and diving around with my cutlery looking for any trace of prawn I’d inadvertently lopped off a few tentacles. Or legs. Whatever they have. These I could have easily choked on, so I was not a happy bunny. Call me picky if you like, but what was the problem with simply placing a solitary prawn on top, like the Spanish do with Paella, or take the shells off themselves?
As for the rest of the dish, I found the tomato-based sauce lacked enough flavour to really do the ingredients justice, in fact it was only a couple of steps up from the stuff that Heinz chuck over their alphabetti spaghetti. At least the rice was cooked properly and the waiting staff were cheerful and attentive. At least one of them was anyway.
To sum up, I cannot really recommend Averna although we may simply have caught them on a bad night. But from a business point of view first impressions are what counts and there is a Pizza Express just five minutes up the road. For once I am more than happy to side with the nationwide chain rather than a family owned restaurant. To be honest alarm bells should have rung earlier on in the day when I had looked at their website, the main focus of which seemed to be the recent extension to their premises. In fact nobody even thought to put the menu or anything about the food on their website, save for a macaroni cheese recipe which is somewhat strange. It is as if they are telling you to stay at home and make macaroni cheese rather than coming out to eat at their restaurant. You can copy the link below and paste it into your browser if you want to see for yourself what I mean; I would post the link here but Dean says that every page you link to counts as a “vote” for that website or something. And Averna certaintly did not get our vote.