NEXT time I go to Moonfish – and there will be a next time – I’m going to do it at the height of summer.
That’s because I’m tired of walking into the little restaurant covered head-to-toe in snow.
It’s no exaggeration to say that in the three times I’ve been there – in three different years – it’s been snowing.
That said, of all the restaurants in which you’d want to shelter from a snowstorm, I can think of none better than Moonfish.
Cosy, candlelit and tightly packed with little tables, this feels like a little bistro you’d find hidden away on a back street in Paris.
It’s the kind of place where everyone has to lean forward over the cutlery in order to make quiet conversation with their partner.
As you might expect from an establishment called Moonfish, creatures that go splash take precedence over things that go moo on the menu.
With that in mind, I kicked off the meal with West Coast razor clams with chorizo, broad beans and chive oil.
Cut into dainty cubes, both the clams and chorizo were served in the spread-eagle clam shell and scattered with the sweet beans. Although a bit fiddly to eat, the smoky paprika hit from the Spanish sausage offset the rich, meaty seafood perfectly.
As the snow shower got worse outside, this was a delicious dose of Mediterranean sunshine.
My wife’s diver-caught scallops came with an unusual accompaniment – confit of duck.
The hint of Chinese five-spice gave the dish a delicious Oriental hum and, by the end, any scepticism she had over the choice of duck went out the window. It was a nice change from the ubiquitous scallop-black pudding combo.
Annoyingly, it was about this point when we overheard our friendly waitress telling the neighbouring table about some mouthwatering specials on the menu that night – something she forgot to inform us of earlier.
Still, our grumbles of discontent stopped the second my grilled fillet of hake was placed in front of me.
Sitting on top of a mound of anchovy pomme mousseline (that’s posh mashed potato to you and me) and enveloped in a rich mussel and saffron sauce, it positively screamed “eat me”.
The buttery sauce, which was dotted with plump orange mussels, tasted like a less intense seafood bisque – perfect to let the delicate flavour of the hake shine through.
My wife’s pan fried fillet of bream couldn’t have been more different to my bold, brash hake.
Perfectly-cooked with cherry tomatoes, creamed orzo pasta and a lemon vinaigrette, this was a dish that sang gently, while mine shouted from the rooftops.
Special or no special, after clearing both our plates, neither of us cared a jot about the waitress’ earlier oversight.
Wisely judging that a dessert each would tip us over the edge, we shared a chocolate truffle cake with vanilla ice-cream.
After fork-fighting over the last chocolatey morsel we both wished we’d ordered separate portions – it was that good.
And all this for just £23.95 for two courses or £28.95 for three – worth every penny, I’d say.
Aside from the specials slip-up, the only other thing I’d pick fault with would be the less-than attentive service.
I had to order a glass of water three times with two separate waitresses before it was finally brought to our table.
But these are minor things that wouldn’t ever put me off returning to this unpretentious, quality restaurant – only hopefully with sunshine, not snow, on my hair next time.