If you want a delicious, cheap and occasionally gently amusing meal, I feel obligated to recommend The Gallery Restaurant in Farnborough.
Run by the catering and hospitality students and staff of Farnborough College of Technology, it is currently open Monday and Tuesday lunchtimes and Thursday evenings, term-time only.
A set 5 course tasting menu for Â£22 can be yours if you book in on a Thursday night, plus incredibly reasonably priced drinks.
But best of all, is that the majority of staff are students, and if you ever want to feel old, it is the perfect spot for you.
The waiters are in training, which is both beautiful and sometimes sympathy-inducing to watch. Small slips like uncollected menus and disappearing cutlery generate heartfelt awkward apologies. Shyness means many table announcements and queries are inaudible. Our first waiter disappears early on, leading us to worry we somehow upset him. Our new waiter sticks mostly to the script but has some fascinating turns of phrase that crack me up.
We started with two types of bread – best guess, focaccia and a mini bridge roll. These, plus unsalted butter, were already on the table when we arrived, and gave us something to eat while we wondered after the menus and drinks.
Once all the ordering was out of the way, a little amuse turned up. A small piece of maki roll, a shot glass of vichyssoise and some sugared crispy kale was our assessment.
This was followed by “Cured Scallop, Coconut Cream, Curry Oil, Ghoa Oil, Finger Limes, Crispy Shallots”. Dainty and delicious.
I somehow neglected to photograph the next course – “Boned and stuffed Poussin with Charred Sweetcorn, Girolles, Crispy Quailâ€™s Egg, Chervil and Truffle Mayonnaise”. I loved this, especially the quail’s egg (like a mini scotch egg without the sausage – could have done with a little seasoning in recompense).
The rabbit mentioned on the menu had been replaced by a pea and bean risotto. The texture was pleasant but the taste bland – more butter/salt/cheese would have helped here.
The menu referred to the next dish as “Roast Guinea Fowl with Autumn Vegetable Barley Risotto, Roast Figs, Charred Shallot, Sprout Leaves, Aniseed Carrot, Bread Sauce and Jus”. Pictured at the top of the article it seemed the risotto had been replaced with mash, and I didn’t spot any bread sauce. However I really liked this dish apart from the figs, which went well as a taste but I was less convinced as a texture.
A tiny pre-dessert of “Cheese Samosa, Walnut, Celery, and Relish”. Very cute, even though I hate celery.
Dessert of the day was a gelatine-ish white chocolate mousse on top of a chocolate sponge, with a raspberry core plus brandy snap. Enjoyable and not too big, which I always appreciate in a multi-course meal.
Tea and coffee included, plus a bit of fudge each. It definitely ended up as more than 5 courses with all the extras! All in all a great time and I have already booked to return.