When I mentioned, a few reviews back, that Folkestone was fast becoming a culinary wasteland I had, of course, forgotten about Paul's. This memory lapse was in part caused by a horrible meal we had there previously. But, that was 5 years ago and its time to forgive and forget (note to Timothy's Wine Bar - this does not apply to you). My brother was over from Miami with his wife and we wanted somewhere suitable to do the big family thing on a Sat night.
Qiute simply, Paul's was fantastic. For Folkestone. The big long dining room now seems much cosier and with more character than I remember and the menu is one step up from the type of gastro-pub fusion food - lots of slightly asian influences, a smattering of mediterrean bits and bobs and a whole heap of talent in the kitchen. The wine list was very good as well and, for once, I didn't object to big mark-ups because the wine on offer was recognisably quality stuff.
Unusually, most of the party opted for the roasted tomato and garlic soup. I thought the garnish of 3 or 4 whole "on the vine" toms plonked in the middle of the soup was a bit excessive. But, I wasn't eating it and everyone else thought it was great. Dean also thought his grilled sardines were awesome (I tried some and they were lovely).
Main courses were really very good as well. Our lettuce-bothering chum Pauly (who is incidentally about to marry my sister - congrats mate !) wasn't made to feel strange and perverse for being a veganist - his tempura veggies were crisp and tasty. Dad's fillet steak with wild mushrooms managed to be both extremely well-done and succulent - it was a little touch and go at first because the old boy cannot cope with even the slighest hint of pink in his meat and teh presence of moisture in steak is unfamiliar to him. I have to say that by this point in the meal I had consumed more than a few glasses of sublime Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc and so my memory is hazy on the details of what everyone else had - what I can remember is extreme pleasure on everyone's face and being passed various fork-fulls of deliciousness. I also remember that I had roasted sea bass which was wrapped in something very similar to filo pastry. The fish was gorgeous, succulent and fresh but I wasn't too sure about the filo - what was the point ? I'm afraid that I definately fall into the school of thought that says fish should be treated simply. There was nothing offensive about the filo pastry but I think it was just too enthusiastic.
Champagne, pudding and coffee followed and the bill for 10 of us was about 400 - which, including booze and tip was pretty reasonable for a great evening. The staff were attentive without being a pain and there were enough of them that you didn't feel neglected.
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