We found ourselves back at Hadski’s for the second time the other week, this time for a friend’s birthday celebration. The restaurant was buzzing – as to be expected for a Friday evening – with our party of 8 contributing much of the chatter.
As on our first visit, all the starters sounded so tantalising that I had trouble choosing just one. I finally decided on the spaghetti nero with squid, clams, mussels and chorizo (£7.50), which appeared as a sizable mound with more seafood than pasta. Together with the tomato sauce, the cucumber ribbons interweaved with the pasta lent a clean, light taste to the dish.
A taste of the smoked seafood chowder (£5.50) revealed that it was thick, buttery and fragrant. It came in a large bowl as well, and was far better value than the crab croquettes we had the last time.
While E went for the filet steak with peppercorn sauce (£23) again – which he assured me was just as good as before – I decided to try the special of the day’s mixed grill (about £21) instead. For how could I resist ordering a dish with rump steak, lamb chop, pork belly, chorizo, duck egg, tomato and mushroom, served with a side of chips?
The price led me to expect far smaller portions, hence was surprised and slightly daunted at the sight before me. The quality of the dish was as mixed as what went into it: the steak was (over)cooked to medium well, dry and chewy; the chorizo was too spicy with chilli and whole cardamom pods in it; the lamb was tender but slightly tasteless.
Yet, all of these sub-par meats were eclipsed and erased by the sheer deliciousness of the pork belly – honey glazed, very slightly charred at the edges and infused with flavour throughout. The dish had two pieces of this divine meat that reminded me of Chinese roast pork (char siu), and I couldn’t have been happier.
Despite being stuffed – I’d ditched most of the sausage and half the rump steak – gluttony prevailed and we ordered desserts as well. E’s apple crumble was served like a sundae, and though scrumptious was awkward to eat. The parts that made up the crumble were arranged in layers – apple at the bottom, ice cream and crumble above – but the long sundae spoon was too small to effectively get all three in one scoop.
Feeling adventurous, I went for something different and got the pineapple tart tatin. The crust was soggy and difficult to cut through cleanly with a fork, which resulted in some inelegant sawing using the fork and spoon I was given.
Worst of all, I don’t know what possessed Hadskis to scatter pepper corn over the dessert. After a nasty surprise from the first mouthful, I scrapped all the peppercorn off but its taste still lingered on the ice cream, spoiling the entire dish and leaving me unsatisfied. So much for trying something new – I’ll stick to chocolate in future!