We had eaten at Clark & Sons in Clarkston on a number of occasions and had always been delighted with the quality, service and value, so it was an easy choice when it came to picking somewhere to help celebrate my maturing years.
The restaurant area in Clark & Sons can only be accessed through the public bar. This means that if you have children dining with you, then your meal needs to be completed by 8pm - licensing laws don't allow children to be in the bar after that time. This meant that we all had a bit of running about to be ready and be assembled for our six o'clock booking.
We were seated promptly and our waitress efficiently gathered drinks orders and sorted out menus whilst my sister-in-law set about decorating my seating area with helium filled balloons, birthday banners and table decorations. Suitably embarrassed, I could now cast my eyes over the extensive Clark & Sons menu. In days gone by, there used to be a great value daily 'Wine & Dine' menu which included two courses (albeit the chefs limited choice) and a glass of wine for less than a tenner, this has been replaced by an early bird pre-theatre menu which is simply two courses off of the a la carte menu for just £9.95, or three courses for £12.95 (there are a few supplements on some of the high ticket things on the menu, steaks, scallops etc), meaning that you are spoiled for choice at great value, if you are dining before 6:30pm.
It wasn't long before our starters arrived. Three of our party had the ruchetta of tomato & mozzarella, a thick slice of toasted bread layered with confit shallots, tomato pesto, roasted tomato and melted creamy mozzarella. The sweet flavours of the tomato were countered by the thick balsamic glaze over the top.
If mussels are on the menu, you can be guaranteed that John will order them. I never got to taste any of the huge bowl of Moules Marinieres but the satisfied slurping coming from John's general direction indicated that they were as good as they looked.
Myself and the rest of our party had the ham hock, wild mushroom & parsley terrine, which came served with a delicious homemade piccalilli and two thick slices of toast. I thoroughly enjoyed my starter, although I think that the second slice of toast was not needed, unless they plan on serving another slice of terrine.
In an odd twist, we all ended up ordering fish for our main. Phillip and Lisa both had the grilled Scottish salmon with potato clapshot crush and a chive butter sauce.
With the exception of myself, beer battered haddock with mushy peas and chips was the war cry for everyone else. Pomme frites or hand cut chunky chips accopmanied the huge crispy batter fish which was served on a bed of tasty vinegary mushy peas.
The last fish dish to come to the table was worth the extra minute or two wait - I had ordered the pan fried fillet of sea bream with buttered mash, smoked haddock, pea and clam chowder. The presentation was fantastic. Giant clams with shells open and reaching for the sky were surrounded by a creamy chowder, rich in smoky flavour from the haddock. The sea bream was cooked perfectly, resting on a bed of well seasoned mashed potato and wilted spinach. The razor clam shells finished of the look of the dish, although I was slightly disappointed that they were just for show - I've never tasted razor clams and for a split second I thought that this was my chance. Otherwise, this was a beautifully presented and perfectly balanced plate of food.
After two hefty portions, I'm not sure that any of us had room for a third course, not that that stop us order. The inner child in both Nicola and John came rushing to the top and they both ordered three scoops of dairy ice cream with strawberry sauce. Nicola is a stickler for quality ice cream and once she had finished licking the bowl she was able to give her tow thumbs up recommendation.
Chocolate brownie with vanilla dairy ice cream was the preferred choice of almost everyone else and they were all delighted with the rich dark chocolate sponge.
I had opted for the chocolate orange torte which was delightful. A crisp pastry case filled with a rich dark chocolate ganache, flavoured with orange zest was accompanied with sweet candied zest, creme fraiche and dusted with a little cocoa powder and icing sugar. The torte was delicious, and despite the fact that I'd had two courses already, I would happily have eaten another two portions of this dessert.
So with everyone fed and watered, it was now time for us to ask for the bill but just before that there was just enough for time for me to be further embarrassed with a rendition of 'Happy Birthday' as my birthday cake was delivered to the table. In a fitting tribute to Gerry's Kitchen, my gorgeous wife had arranged for a Swedish Chef styled cake. The cake was made by the same girl who had made our wedding cake a few years ago and tasted every bit as good as that did.
As 8pm rapidly approached, it was time to get out before the kids turned back I not pumpkins so we settled up the bill and thanked the staff for another delicious meal at Clark & Sons before we headed back to our new house for birthday cake and coffee after another yet enjoyable meal.
The menu at Clark & Son carries a good balance of both classic and creative dishes, all presented beautifully. I commented earlier that I was disappointed to see that the old 'Wine and Dine' had gone but I can honestly say that the decision to replace it with the 'early bird per-theatre' is ingenious! Great quality, beautiful presentation, and phenomenal value make returning to Clark & Sons an easy decision and somewhere that Gerry's Kitchen would happily recommend.
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