This is a difficult review to write as in general I always find it a struggle to find a restaurant in Inverness that interests me enough to eat there. It could be slightly unfair as I live in London so have access to fantastic restaurants at the top of their game. For me I find it increasingly frustrating that there is not any one restaurant here that can deliver on food, wine and service.
Scotland has access to some of the best produce in the world in terms of seafood, game etc. It would be nice to see at least one restaurant in Inverness try and embrace this.
So back to my experience of the Mustard Seed. It had been several years since I last ate there and going back a good 8 years or so it was a favourite. Having scrutinised the online menus of various other restaurants I decided we would return to the Mustard Seed. For some time when I have been in the area I have found the menu uninspired and lack lustre. However, with sourcing somewhere to eat proving a real issue we though why not give it a go.
On arrival we were greeted promptly and escorted up to our table by the bar tender. He handed us the menus along with wine list etc and explained someone would be over with the specials for the evening. He also took out order for some drinks. The two Bellinis arrived although they have to be up there with some of the poorest I have tried. My friend couldn’t actually drink hers. Not like any Bellini I have ever had before, tasted like passion fruit juice....not the end of the world...possibly just how this restaurant make them and I should have checked prior to ordering them.
They only have one South African red so there was no contest we went with that. Slight shame it was Cape Heights and a merlot but again not the end of the world...I spend a lot of my time in South Africa so I am spoilt to have tasted many of the better wines on offer. What disappoints me here though is the Mustard Seed source the wine from a fantastic little wine store that has some fantastic drops yet the restaurant choose to stick with a bland uninspiring wine list playing it safe with Pinot Grigios and Chardonnays not an Albariño or Viognier in sight. There is clearly a market for good wine as the wine shop shows so it would be nice to see something a little more inspiring on the restaurant wine list.
Our starters were fine. My friends got smoked salmon was apparently very good although there was none of the avocado on there that had been promised on the description. My pigeon was fine, a little over cooked for me but I do like it very pink but I found the black pudding disc it was served on delicious. It was described as being served with rocket salad and there was no rocket in sight instead lambs leaf which I prefer anyway but with something missing from both dishes it wasn’t a great start.
Main course I had the venison, same idea as the pigeon really as far as in it was over down for me but still pink so not awful. Served with a bland mash potatoes and some green beans that were cooked very well and still had a bite which is how I like my vegetables. Advertised as having mushrooms but alas they were absent from the dish.
My friend had a very poor gnocchi dish. Basically gnocchi with very few vegetables some olives with the stones still in which I find completely bizarre for the type of dish and again this was suppose to have feta but not one single crumb of feta was to be found.
Pudding was fine, safe choices not much thought gone into options.
Service was not great. No interaction, where is the highland hospitality ? The girls we had were prompt but I think it would be really beneficial to the business if they invested in some customer service training for the waiting staff. The older chap with the glasses who has been there forever was much better but he knows how to talk to customers and engage them.
Would we go back? Probably not, and that is a real shame. I really wanted to like it but it just didn’t deliver on any aspect.