36 on the Quay, 47 South Street, Emsworth, Hampshire

There is a charming photograph of 36 on the Quay when it was the Anchor Inn a century ago. It shows a thick-set ruffian with the moustache of a villain in a Chaplin movie. Hands tucked into his waistband, legs apart, he's looking at the camera as though accusing it of spilling his pint. Around him are half a dozen cronies, glaring at the intruding lens. They wouldn't have made the Anchor feel a very welcome place to pop into for a refreshing sherbet.

Not any more. It's a more glamorous proposition today. The setting, overlooking the sea at Emsworth, is lovely. If the tide's out, you can park on the shingle and gaze at the lovely 17th-century cottages.

Inside, the dining room is small, low-ceilinged, crowded and cosy. The décor is mostly neutral beige, offset by the bright pinks, greens and reds in the evening wear of the sailing fraternity. Emsworth is home to one of the three sailing clubs in the area (along with Itchenor and Bosham) and it shows. The clientele in here is rich, comfortable and local. This restaurant is their second home. The chap at the next table has kicked off his Gucci loafers and is eating supper in his socks, as he'd do by his fireside. Opposite him, the lady in the cashmere sweater is telling friends, "It was just too cold for a second coat of varnish." It takes a moment to realise she's talking about her boat rather than her toenails.

Ramon and Karen Farthing have run this place for over 10 years and picked up a Michelin star along the way. Karen marshals a small army of smiling local girls, who deliver your amuse bouche of Jerusalem artichoke soup (scorching hot and a little too oily) with a flourish. He and his team offer a small but intriguing menu – four starters, four mains – of dishes that suggest a chef of phenomenal gifts but a perverse sense of scale.

My starter of pigeon breasts on a braised onion and pinenut compote was arranged in arrowhead formulation, with black pudding in the middle and cubes of steamed beetroot sitting in a light game reduction. Game poultry and black pudding together make quite an assault on the tastebuds – like being set upon by two of the aforementioned sailors simultaneously. Each was delicious, and perfectly cooked, but didn't work as a duet. Likewise, the sweetness of the compote had a fight on its hands with some warm plum chutney: I wished there had been fewer tastes to confuse the palate. And it was an enormous starter. After it, I felt like I'd eaten three courses and the cheese board. Angie's scallops arrived on a vegetable caponata with roasted red peppers, and were covered with parmesan crisps, resembling three miniature cheeseburgers. The scallops were, Angie said, "heavily seared, rich and densely flavoured, but really overwhelmed by the parmesan". Both dishes showed, I thought, a chef who didn't trust his own judgement about when to stop piling flavours on.

The mains showed the same tendency towards random excess. My loin of venison with (deep breath) a timbale of braised red cabbage, glazed fondant potato, fricassee of caramelised swede and baby onions, noisettes of apples and a cassis game sauce was a huge plateful of 20-odd items, similar in size and colour. It was like inspecting a box of chocolates without the explanatory lid. The venison medallions were juicy and beautifully cooked, but the red cabbage had been ill-advisedly braised in honey and the "noisettes" of apple resembled three sorbets added as an afterthought. Would it have been too boring to braise the cabbage with apples? Angie's seabass was accessorised with crisp lime potato slices, a light tomato mousse, courgette ribbons and tender spinach leaves on a roasted shallot cream. It wasn't a wild success. The tomato mousse was a tasteless gloop. The seabass has a slithery, oily quality that suggested a dubious kinship with mackerel. "And the whole thing's too complicated," said Angie. "A nice piece of fish has been turned into Sunday lunch with all the trimmings. And who ever serves gravy – sorry, shallot cream – with fish anyway?"

Stuffed to the gills, we ordered a single helping of the restaurant's Speciality Dessert: "Five miniature British classics". They were: eggy custard tart (fine), rice pudding (undercooked), trifle (yummy), steamed ginger pudding (light and lovely) and hot apple crumble (fabulous). A delightful doll's-house selection, which left you tantalised – I'd happily have tackled a proper-sized plate of the trifle or crumble, but they didn't do grown-up portions of any of the five. Honestly. After the Brobdingnagian starters, and the plate-crammed mains, here were the Lilliputian puds. The kitchen at 36 gets so much of the actual cooking right, it's a shame to carp about the profusion of extras; but Mr Farthing might consider curbing his natural generosity, and trying the less-is-more approach.

36 on the Quay, 47 South Street, Emsworth, Hampshire (01243 375592)

Food 2 stars
Ambience 4 stars
Service 4 stars

About £130 for two, with wine

Tipping policy: "No service charge. All tips go to the staff"

Side Orders: Quay factors

Bordeaux Quay

Canons Road, Bristol (0117 943 1200)

The food here is local and organic, given an impeccable classical European treatment – and the river views are stunning, too.

11 The Quay

Ilfracombe, Devon (01271 868090)

Damien Hirst's bar and restaurant in Devon serves up unpretentious food such as black bream, new potatoes and sauce vierge.

Bistro on the Quay

Wherry Quay, Ipswich (01473 286677)

The main courses at this old salt warehouse include confit duck with parsnip mash, braised red cabbage and French beans (£10.95).

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Restaurant Manager / Sommelier

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Seasonal Placement

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Hotel Receptionists...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Receptionists - Poole

    £12500 - £13520 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn