SOME new restaurants have a real buzz about them. We’d heard so many reports about the Lotus Lounge in Yarm, Teesside, we were really looking forward to visiting ourselves.
Lotus Lounge, on Yarm High Street, was opened in June by entrepreneurs Howard Eggleston and Andy Drysdale with the aim of bringing upmarket, pan-Asian cuisine to the Teesside town for the first time.
The restaurant, located above Hide Bar, serves up the creations of executive chef Martin Moore – who formerly worked as head chef at Seaham Hall’s Ozone pan-Asian restaurant and was also the executive chef at luxury hotel Rockliffe Hall, near Darlington.
We were greeted by dimmed lighting which created a real sense of drama – definitely not a place for highchairs and young ones if you’re thinking of going late on. We’d gone along with friends and it was the perfect atmosphere for an evening of grown-up chat.
The trance-like beats and exotic decor all added to the wonderful ambience.
After sitting down and forgetting our daily stresses with a glass of wine, we waited with anticipation for the menu.
We weren’t disappointed. There was a good selection without there being an overwhelming list of options, which I find can be quite offputting.
Due to the moody lighting those with less than perfect eyesight might have struggled to see what was on offer – a problem averted by trendy little torches bearing the Lotus Lounge logo handed out to guests as a quirky keepsake.
I chose seared scallops and langoustines (£7.95) which came with cauliflower tempura and saffron foam to start.
My husband opted for the Teriyaki salmon (£6.95) with hot and sour vegetables and Asian tartare.
The starters took no time to arrive, presumably due to the nature of pan-Asian cooking which is done with searing temperatures at a breakneck speed.
Scallops are always a good litmus test I reckon, as getting them just right is a feat in itself.
These were cooked perfectly. In fact it made me realise that most recently my scallop dishes had been a touch overdone. Juicy and very moreish, particularly with the light saffron foam. Combined with the succulent langoustines it was the perfect start – and left me wanting more.
My husband’s choice looked just as tempting, if a bit more substantial.
The salmon fell apart and although I didn’t taste the tartare, I was assured it was tasty.
For the main event I chose the chicken and noodle stir fry (£11.95).
It was OK.
I was disappointed in that the portion certainly wasn’t hefty, but then again modern restaurants do tend to serve up daintier dishes.
There were few noodles, the chicken being the standout section of the dish.
Perhaps that’s how it was supposed to be... but I love noodles, and I was really looking forward to tucking in with my chopsticks.
But the chicken was well cooked and the dish was tasty, so perhaps I’m being picky.
Chris opted for the fillet of beef black bean (£16.95) which was a dish with peppers and chestnut mushrooms, black bean and coriander sauce and jasmine rice.
He’s a bit boring when it comes to menu choices as his main usually comprises of beef in some format.
So although this ticked the ‘beef’ box, it was a nice alterative. The beef was juicy and the rich sauce mouthwatering. We both gave it the thumbs-up.
Due to the slightly bijou main-course portions we were most certainly up for afters, which is pretty much unheard of for us two. And somewhat surprisingly for a pan-Asian menu there was a tantalising selection.
I went for the lemon grass creme brulee (£4.95) and Chris the Asian ice cream and sorbet (£4.95).
My dessert was simply outstanding, the culinary highlight of the evening. Given the nature of the restaurant I’m unsure whether this is entirely positive, but it really was delicious. Light, fresh, creamy and above all mouth-wateringly tasty.
Chris’ dessert was also delicious, and as he offered it to me and our friends for a taste, we all agreed. The cherry ice-cream really was a winner. Rich and decadent and gorgeous.
Our half of the bill with drinks came to £75.
For me this was on the pricey side, but as we don’t usually treat ourselves to dessert, perhaps to be expected.
So was it worth the hype?
The restaurant certainly struck just the right chord when it comes to atmosphere. And we are looking forward to a second trip... but hopefully next time I’ll have more reason to use my chopsticks.
Address: Lotus Lounge, Fairfax Court, 32-34 High Street, Yarm, TS1 9AE. For more information, visit www.lotus-lounge.co.uk.
Tel: 01642 355558
Open: The Lotus Lounge Restaurant is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 6.30pm-late. The downstairs café-bar is open every day, serving breakfasts between 9am and noon, lunch from noon until 6pm, and dinners between 6pm and 9pm while the bar is open until midnight every day.
First impressions: Wonderfully dramatic
Style, design and furnishings: Evocative of deepest Asia with moody lighting and quirky Buddhas aplenty.
Welcome: A lovely warm welcome with a quick offer of drinks.
Value: Not cheap but perhaps expected given the expertise of the chef.
Disabled facilities: Downstairs toilets and eating areas.
The trance-like beats and exotic decor all added to the wonderful ambience