The small market town of Andover in Hampshire has never had a lot going for it in terms of the shopping opportunities available, unless you wanted a new phone, a bank, a coffee or fancied making some money in one of its numerous betting shops.
Despite the existence of at least a few half decent eating establishments, until recently the #1 RESTAURANT in the town, according to the infamous TripAdvisor was the local Kebab Take-Out.
Captain’s Mezze Bar & Fish opened back in November in place of the recently closed local branch of Ladbrokes. I didn’t have high expectations when my dear Mother announced she’d like to go there for a Mothers Day meal despite the praise it has received since its opening on the local ‘Spotted’ page.
Due to the occasion, this was a family affair, which offered an interesting comparison to the dining practice to which I have become accustomed. For the time of day, the restaurant was surprisingly busy when we arrived and after being greeted and shown to our table, it was noted that it was very much elbow to elbow and how perhaps with the removal of a table or two from the restaurant it might not feel so cramped. For me personally the restaurants interior felt dated and a touch on the tacky side.
Whilst we browsed the menu, we grazed on complimentary Pitta Bread, Salad and Grilled Onions, the Pitta being a particular highlight, it’s quality escaping my usual association between it and drunken walks home.
Our order was taken and not a long wait later the starters came out. Between us we had managed to select quite a large portion of the starters from the menu, each of us having a different dish, ranging from Vine Leaves, Grilled Turkish Sucuk and White Bait through to Grilled Mushrooms and Couscous. If one comment could be made of the starters, it would be that they were by no means frugal with portion sizes but doing so without being over the top. If there was one criticism to be made, it would be that the Turkish Sucuk was full of spice, with no indication from the menu, eventually leading to a swap of dishes between the two older members of the family.
The mains were delivered and upon diving into our initial tastes once again collectively agreed on the surprising quality of the dishes. Half way through the mains we became a touch unstuck as the earlier over indulgence on Pitta caught up with us. When I saw ‘Lamb Kebab’ on the menu, I was instantly transported back to late night walks home I’ve already alluded to, but despite this and considering the evening so far, I chose it without a moments hesitation and was not at all disappointed. In fact I felt bad for evening thinking this might be at all similar to that of a cheap take away. The cubes of marinated Lamb just fell apart and was accompanied with a refreshing natural yoghurt. The quality of the dish however for me, was brought down a notch by the layer of yet more Pitta at the bottom that had gone soggy by the time I had reached the bottom of the mountain of Lamb. It has to be said, that was the only complaint that could be made about the mains, the service once again been spot on, friendly and attentive without being over the top and in your face.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of food produced at Captains and for £125 for 5 of us including multiple drinks each, it was also value for money. If this is an example of the standard of restaurants to come in Andover, the future is looking bright.