Any restaurant still going after 26 years must be doing something right and The Cauldron Bistro in Swanage fits the bill. Run by Terry and Margaret Flenley, it feels less like a restaurant and more like being invited into their home for the evening with the dining room having an old school bistro charm.
Everything on the menu is cooked to order by Terry and lovingly described by the very welcoming Margaret. Bookings are staggered through the evening as it’s just Terry in the kitchen and Margaret on front of house (and washing up in the morning I think!). This is a place to come for a relaxing evening and embracing Terry and Margaret’s hospitality.
The food is very well cooked using local ingredients where possible. It’s a fairly classical menu but with some more contemporary additions like coconut oil with prawns which added a lovely twist to the flavours. While the wine list is relatively short there are good choices and there is a killer selection of aperitifs (or “openers” as Denis Thatcher would have called them) and then port and dessert wines to finish.
For starters Sarah had the Portland Squid which had been simply fried and dressed with a rapeseed and sherry vinegar mix. The squid was beautifully soft and melting – the accompanying chilli sauce on the side had a good kick and the introduction of preserved lemons brought a lovely sourness. My prawns were a little less local (!) but v tasty and the coconut oil was a new one for me.
Main courses included confit duck, salmon linguine and a basil, tomato and walnut pesto pasta. We were in the mood for chips – Sarah had a beautiful Dover Sole that had been pan fried and served with a butter and caper sauce. Flavoursome and tender, the fish had been cooked wonderfully and all the freshly cooked, crisp chips went too!
I had the Aberdeen Angus beef fillet – recommended medium rare and it came exactly on point and was full of flavour too. As well as more chips there was a deep, rich jus accompanying that had a lovely sweetness and a horseradish sauce to provide a bit of background heat. Delicious!
To finish Sarah had a luxurious chocolate torte that went down a treat with a glass of Muscat dessert wine. My glass of port had a side dish of Montgomery cheddar – a vintage cheese that had a real piquant punch. I love finishing with a single great cheese rather than a mixed mediocre plate and the Montgomery was terrific.
Terry and Margaret were wonderful hosts for the evening and the cosiness of the restaurant lends itself to chats between the tables. Many customers have been coming to The Cauldron for years and we could see why. It’s now open for dinner on Friday and Saturday only so you’ll need to book early – embrace the charm and spirit of the restaurant and you’ll have a great time.
Starters are priced at £6-10 and mains at £12-20.
The Cauldron Bistro
5 High Street
t: 01929 422 671
|Invited by PR company?||No|
|Guest of chef/restaurant/owner?||No|
|Restaurant/outlet knew ahead we were bloggers?||Yes|
|Was the meal complimentary from the restaurant?||No|
|Any complimentary items provided by restaurant/outlet?||No|