When I was invited to visit the Vespers Restaurant in Basingstoke, I’m afraid to say I instantly judged them for being a hotel restaurant. With a few exceptions, it’s sad that a lot of hotels lose focus when it comes to their restaurant and end up charging sky high prices for what is a less than acceptable experience with mediocre food. I’m happy to say that The Apollo Hotel will make me think twice in future as they far exceeded my average expectations.
Located just off the M3 its a great spot for business meetings, good food and a nice vibe. Atmosphere is also something hard to get right in a hotel, you want people to use the lounge space and create a buzz, but that isn’t always easy. We walked in to have a drink at the bar first, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it almost full with business groups, friends and the odd couple having a quiet drink. The TV had sport showing but it wasn’t loud and invasive.
At around 7pm the Vespers restaurant is open for business and its a small intimate space, clean and slightly dimly lit creating that peaceful ambiance you need if wanting a romantic meal or a quiet businesses meeting. One thing I must say is how great the service was. Our waiter was extremely attentive without being too much, a fine line that is easy to cross. It would be interesting to see if the service remained so good when busy but I really can’t fault them based on my visit.
The starters didn’t take long to be served and I had the Pan seared scallops with a saffron sauce and pomegranate salad whilst my friend had the Smoked haddock fish cakes served with a homemade chilli jam. Both were delicious and I am glad to say the scallops were spot on – a difficult dish to get right in any establishment.
We had an adequate break between courses, as there is nothing worse than feeling rushed as they bring out the next dish when you’re still swallowing the last bite from the previous one! I was then served Rump of English lamb off the bone roasted and served with a turnip, barley and spelt risotto. Whilst my friend opted for the Surrey farmed 28 day aged rib eye steak served with an onion ring and chunky chips cooked in beef dripping. Again, they asked how the steak was to be cooked and got it right first time, and I must say my Lamb was divine, falling apart on the plate and paired well with great flavours from the spelt risotto.
As if that wasn’t enough we then had the Lemon mascarpone cheesecake to finish. It was light, fluffy and refreshing after the two savoury courses. Presented beautifully on a slate board and it had a gorgeous sorbet accompanying it.
Overall it was a delightful meal for the two of us, with great service in a warm, inviting atmosphere. If I need somewhere for a quiet business meeting or an intimate meal for two then I will certainly return to Vespers for they can offer just that!
fax: 01256 796701