Today marked a return to training, as we have another long charity walk in our plans for 2013. This time we’ll be walking 100km from Manchester to Sheffield, over the Pennines. It takes place in June, but we already have our sponsor page up and running, so pop over to www.bmycharity.com/lunchquestpennines if you’re feeling particularly keen.
With MJ in the final few weeks of her “fresh meat” training with the local roller derby squad, I was ploughing a lone furrow, so kept things fairly simple, with a quick spin around the Botanics, then a long stroll through the city. I had it in mind to visit The Skylark, a bar/bistro on Portobello High Street, so I set my aim in that direction.
I found the place quite sparsely populated, but by the time I left, all the tables were filled. The decor, fixtures and fittings are an eclectic mix. They have two church pews, set next to formica-topped tables, wonderful cornicing set next to bare brick and exposed steel beams, and a traditional bar set next to an open, steely kitchen. I found it quite charming.
Their menu is brief and to the point, and helpfully augmented by daily specials. It being Sunday, they had a roast, to go with their daily soup and quiche choices. I opted for soup and roast, which proved to be leek and potato, and slow roast leg of lamb.
Soup arrived promptly. I gave it a quick try and it was rather thin, but I suspected it would contain rustic chunky goodness in its depths. Sadly, it didn’t, proving limply thin throughout. It was also under-seasoned, so was not a very good effort. Once I’d liberally seasoned it, there was some decent flavour lurking in the mix, but it was a dish that required significant improvement.
The roast proved better, but still lacked oomph. The red wine gravy was, again, a trifle thin. The veggies were decent and the lamb tender and flavourful, but it was still a bit underwhelming. The plate needed something green to make it more pleasing on the eye and palette, and more imagination in the preparation of the dish, as a whole.
Their espresso was good, but it couldn’t save what had been a rather mediocre experience.
So overall, I thought that The Skylark had real potential, particularly as a relaxing Sunday afternoon spot, as the place has a smart and understated charm. However, the food needs marked improvement. It was just all too meek for its own good. It was rather reminiscent of Cafe Milk, in that regard. With a significant dose of chutzpah, they could develop a really attractive offering. For now, there are other places in this neighbourhood that make a better case for meriting a visit.
Blythe scores The Skylark
2.5/5 for food
3/5 for presentation
3/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 12.5/20
Today’s quester was: Blythe
I ate: leek and potato soup; slow roast leg of lamb
I drank: sparkly water, espresso
I wore: walking garb
Total bill: £16.60