Ceno, Highfield, Southampton

It is the occasion of Mr Oblique Junior’s 21st birthday, and we have found a restaurant which, amazingly, suits all of us.

Ceno, in Highfield Road, is variously described as a café diner or bar restaurant; I would probably call it a brasserie. We booked quite late for Sunday evening, and were given a round table, ideal for six of us; we could all chat and could all pay attention to the youngest Miss O, who can be ‘difficult’.

There was a set price menu for this Sunday evening; we could have had the à la carte but the range was so wide we didn’t bother.

For starters, we had whitebait- cooked perfectly, crispy and fresh-tasting; gravadlax fishcakes, with a lovely pea velouté; goat’s cheese crostini; and a rich pâté with onion marmalade. All were brilliant. At the suggestion of the waitress, Miss O. had garlic bread, which, amazingly, she loved.

To nobody’s surprise, she had chips for the main course. With ketchup. Three of us had honey duck, with a huge and delicious salad of noodles…. and stuff. I should have taken notes, but I do know it was all excellent, with a lovely mix of textures, from the duck, which was soft but not pappy, to the crispy salad. A lamb burger was declared almost as good as Mrs O’s. Praise indeed. Swordfish was a new one on us all, and really good, almost a meaty taste.

We had soft drinks and a bottle of Shiraz; it was the cheapest on the menu and lovely.

By this time, only half of us could attempt pudding (especially knowing there was birthday cake at home). Sticky toffee pudding and chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce and chocolate ice cream were both highly appreciated. Miss O. had chocolate ice cream, of course. Where does this chocolate addiction come from, I wonder? (I got into trouble when I said it could be cleared away before she was finished, while she was in the toilet.)

ceno

This meal cost £142 for six of us; I thought it was good value for the quality. I have nothing negative to say….oh. alright: I hate slate plates, but as mine was just a platter for my pâté I didn’t object.

Best of all were the setting, which is modern but very comfortable, and the staff. They are brilliant: attentive without being fussy and friendly without being what my grandmother would have called ‘familiar’. They were brilliant with Miss O, who really enjoyed herself. I can’t praise this place highly enough. Five stars.

Just a note: writing what amounts to a restaurant review is an interesting exercise. I started off in the present tense, but decided that didn’t work, so changed it. It is really difficult to avoid cliché and too much irrelevant detail. Also, I can’t do all the accents on some of these French words; I had to copy and paste from other places. All comments are always gratefully received.

(The pictures are from the Ceno Facebook page; as I have been very positive, I hope they don’t mind!)

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