The Park Brasserie (August 2002)
This is an archived article from 2002.
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Since he took over the culinary reins at the De Vere Herons' Reach last year, Executive Chef John Walker has been working a quiet revolution. The four-star Blackpool hotel - best-known for its outstanding leisure facilities - is now in serious danger of adding a top-quality restaurant to its local pulling power. That's no mean feat when you consider where 'hotel food' tends to sit in the local mindset (except for weddings and dinner dances, hotel dining rooms tend to get left to the tourists).
The Park Brasserie is on the move, aggressively courting a local clientele that can be tough to please. And what it has to offer is an attention to detail that really does set it apart from the crowd. This is four-star a la carte dining as it should be, a world away from the table d'hote production line that is a hotel dinner dance.
Let's start with the bread. No processed rolls here - you've got a choice of herb, olive, tomato or walnut with regular or garlic butter. Wine? A 20-bin list, each one carefully described and accompanied by a helpful tasting scale. Plenty of by-the-glass options as well plus a supplementary seasonal wine list available by the bottle and glass (250ml or 175ml). Waiters? Here, that's what they are as opposed to plate deliverers. Meaning that they bring a folding table along with them to ensure they can serve everyone at your table at the same time. They carve your Crispy Indonesian Style Shredded Duck starter (£7.75) at the table in front of you. And they want to know if you would prefer to take your coffee at the table or in the bar area. Does any of this really matter? Well yes - because it's the smallest of details that can help to make a good meal, memorable (or even a poor meal, average).
But at the end of the day it's the food that really counts and this is where John Walker's influence is plain to see. With the help of his team of 16 chefs, he's put together an exciting (even experimental) fusion menu. After all, outside of your local Chinese restaurant, the aforementioned aromatic crispy duck simply does not feature. Mains like the Saute of Monkfish with Basil and Fennel (£15.25) or Salmon Rolled with Leek and Panchetta (£12.95) provide a truly mouthwatering range of tastes and flavours. Needless to say, the presentation on the plate is outstanding. Moreover, the menu does work for those of a more conservative palate, offering Smoked Scottish Salmon (£7.95, starter) and 8oz Fillet Steak (£17.95 main). Dessert is easy -- look no further than the Gary Rhodes-inspired Brioche and Butter Custard Pudding (£3.95). The modern Brasserie décor - with its Charles Rennie Macintosh-inspired chairs and funky lighting -- complements the food well.
De Vere Herons' Reach
East Park Drive
Tel: 01253 838866
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