THIS restaurant has been on my ‘must try’ list ever since I heard of its refurbishment and its name change from Pine Lodge to 281.
It’s building, on the leafy and attractive Nottingham Road, has always appealed to me, and I’ve heard good reports of what the owners have done with the place.
My first attempt to eat there failed miserably, because I’d assumed that as a hotel and restaurant 281 would be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. So when I turned up on a Wednesday lunch-time I was disappointed to find it closed for food.
So back I went a week later, this time on a Thursday.
My lunch partner and I started with a soft drink and perused the menu. There was a choice of several main meals plus jacket potatoes with various fillings and sandwiches.
Being in need of more hearty fare I opted for chicken with stilton and mushroom pasta bake, while my friend went for the goat’s cheese salad. The food did take a while, but that wouldn’t have been a problem had the waitress been more attentive with refilling our empty glasses. She wasn’t overstretched as there were only another three tables occupied. On arrival my friend’s salad looked great, and barring a bit more zing, as she put it, was very enjoyable. My pasta bake was creamy and rich, and tasty, but the dish lacked colour.
We asked about desserts and were given an option of around five. I chose a warm chocolate brownie and ice-cream, and my friend chose the chocolate torte. Both were excellent and looked beautifully tempting on the plate.
Two coffees later and the whole lot came in at £26.20. A good price for nicely presented and tasty food in an inviting environment. My only complaint was a lack of atmosphere - but then again, I’m not sure too many people are aware of this blossoming gem. Give it a try.