Good Times at The Cliff
In our line of work, we’re always listening out for recommendations when it comes to great places to eat and drink and get regular reports about certain venues. The Cliff is one of these places and I’ve heard so many good things about it lately that it was a wonderful surprise to be invited to the launch of their new Christmas menu. I’ve been told on numerous occasions that as well as the food being of a very high standard, the service is friendly and efficient and the atmosphere is warm, welcoming and stylish… so, no pressure there! My expectations were high going in so it was really a case of whether they could be met, and if they were, a glowing review would surely follow.
Before I get stuck in to talking about the food (and the cocktails of course), the venue itself deserves a significant mention. It was, as I’d been advised, extremely stylish. A relaxed ambience with a classy vibe, warm and welcoming, spotlessly clean and very well maintained. A wonderful seasonal feel was enhanced with understated Christmas decorations that were in keeping with the theme and despite not quite being December, put me in the mood for the upcoming festivities.
I’d had a look at the menu prior to going and narrowed my selections down (with difficulty) to a couple of items from each section. Leaving me to work on my NLP techniques with Sarah in advance to ensure she would choose the dishes I didn’t and I would get to try them anyway.
Let’s check out the menus…
We both started off with a cocktail… I went against the grain for me; I wouldn’t normally go for Prosecco, but the idea of it being combined with the Sipsmith Gin intrigued me and I really wanted to try it. Sarah went for the Espresso Martini. She followed this up with most of the rest of the menu. I won’t get carried away with describing them all but they were all very good and as I’m typing, I’m finding myself yearning for one right now. Any of them would do as they were all as good as they look!
To start, I had narrowed my choice down to the Deep Fried Brie and the Duck Liver and Port Parfait. So, would Sarah play ball and opt for the one I didn’t go for? Of course… she knows her place. Or that’s what she would have chosen anyway. That’s probably closer to the truth.
A good deep fried brie is hard to beat as a starter. It’s about as naughty and indulgent as you can get and I don’t know why, but it always feels to me like a particularly festive option. I love brie, but for some reason when it’s hot and spilling out of a crispy batter, the term “food porn” never seems more apt. As far as this dish goes, this was an absolute belter and the accompanying Spiced Fruit and Sloe Gin Chutney worked brilliantly adding that bit of sweet and sour to the creamy cheese.
The parfait was equally as nice. Sarah certainly enjoyed it and true to form, I was helping her out. As with the brie, this starter was paired with the chutney and again, the buttery texture of the parfait partners well with the contrasting tartness.
Proving that Sarah is her own woman, she chose the salmon for her main, despite my attempts to influence her. I was torn between the Maple Pork Belly and the Roasted Turkey. I’m a big fan of turkey at Christmas so this seemed like a must for me, but with a nice piece of pork belly and pig cheek on offer, I was hoping Sarah might choose the turkey. Both sounded amazing, although to be fair, Sarah’s Salmon Fillet and Smoky Mussel Cream Sauce was cooked perfectly and absolutely delicious. With my decision made, I was delighted to find that the veg with my meal included parsnips and brussel sprouts. Two personal favourites. We’ve had a frost now and as my grandparents always told me, sprouts are better once they’ve had a frost on. They might not have seen me for six months, but I’d hear that before I got a “hello”. They were right though.
The Dijon Chive Mash was lovely with a very nicely balanced Red Wine and Sage Jus. If you’ve never tried pig cheek, but are a fan of other piggy parts, I’d get on to that ASAP. You’ve been missing out. Years ago, this was a cheap meal that often only those on a budget would think about eating. Nowadays, it’s a lot more fashionable, but while times have moved on, I’m again reminded of comforting home cooking. Cavolo Nero is one of those greens that I always think seems to go best with pork. Pork belly has to be one of the tastiest cuts of the animal and is always a contender for me when it’s on the menu. The whole dish was cooked beautifully and the prosciutto was a very nice touch, adding that bit of crunch. I really enjoyed it.
I did get to try a bit of salmon from Sarah’s plate. I wasn’t quite as quick as I was with the starter so it was only a taste. I was starting to hit the wall by this point. The salmon combined with the creamy sauce was an excellent combo. The presentation of both meals was very appealing.
For dessert, I’d decided on the Warm Indulgent Chocolate Brownie before I got there. Sometimes it just has to be chocolate. Sarah opted for the Blackcurrant Mousse. The mousse was sweet and came on a delicate biscuit base. Combined with the fresh fruit, this was a really nice way to round off a lovely meal. Despite the fact that my brownie was very tasty in its own right, it was made even better by the brandy snap crumb and honeycomb ice cream. A simple but well thought out idea that made this a great dessert.
Yay or Nay?
When a restaurant gets ‘bigged up’ before you’ve been to see for yourself, they can be really up against it when trying to live up to your expectations. To say our expectations were met would actually be an understatement. They were undeniably exceeded and, while I’ve got no idea how I’m going to fit it in, I sincerely hope I have chance to go back again before Christmas to try the turkey.
If you’re looking for somewhere to get together with the family, a quiet meal out with your significant other, or even a work’s Christmas outing, the quality of the food, the warm, festive feel and the friendly service make The Cliff a top destination this Christmas. You won’t be disappointed!
You can follow the Cliff on Instagram here: @thecliffsandbanks
Take a look at their website and book online at: www.thecliffcanfordcliffs.co.uk/
Call and book a table on: 01202 492921