The Cut the Mustard restaurant in Hayes offers tasty and attractive food to those with a few pennies to spare, writes George Sargent.
Booking a table for 6pm is not usually advised, particularly for a first date.
But when you have to rush off to see a three-hour behemoth of a film, namely The Hobbit, you have to plan ahead.
The reality of eating early however is that there is less hubbub around than usual. This makes you talk more quietly, drink less but also concentrate more on the food.
Having only been serving restaurant food for a couple of weeks – after previously doing mainly lunches – and with me coming at opening time, the pressure was really on the chefs at this Hayes bistro.
The first impressions of Cut the Mustard are that it is friendly and fun.
The staff are nice, there are candles, cushions and 70s pop music plays in the background.
It may or may not be the first time you took you seat to the sound of Michael Jackson’s Blame it on the Boogie.
Once you have sat down you discover you can bring your own alcohol but not buy it.
On the down side you may feel let down if you did not know this and are hankering for a glass of vino.
On the plus side you can buy any old plonk off the High Street and gleefully glug away at the table.
I am told they are looking to get an alcohol license soon.
I was on a table of two and we both ordered starters from the specials menu, which changes daily.
He had fried scallops with quail’s eggs, crispy pancetta, pea puree and micro herbs to start for £6.95.
The average price of a starter is around £5.
The dish came quickly and was well-presented with purple cress delicately scattered around the scallops and puree.
It was enjoyable and its different flavours worked well together.
Next we ordered a main dish of 24-hour slow-roasted pork belly with mashed potato, mini apple tarte tatin, pork crackling and vegetables for £15.60.
This was very nice. The pulled pork was succulent, the mash was creamy and the cider and wholegrain mustard sauce went well with the meat.
The tatin (basically an apple pie) provided a nice sweet change from the savoury taste. But as someone with a large appetite it was not quite enough for me.
There was a small amount of mash and only two slithers of carrot and a small leek.
When I order pork and mash I imagine an enormous mound of mash on a plate, stuffed with pork and drenched in gravy.
This is possibly served up by a buxom bar maid with rosy cheeks and a brow lightly glistening with sweat.
This did not happen. But this probably says more about me than the restaurant.
Instead I enjoyed another well-presented dish that tasted nice but did not quite fill me up.
My date however was quite full after her two courses and we both thought it was tasty.
After ordering two starters, two mains and two soft drinks we were given a bill of some £50.
This seemed a tad high. The reason for this, I am told, is that the produce is sourced locally where possible and at extra cost.
But punters get 10% off in December.
For those with a few spare pennies, it is a worthwhile investment in a friendly, tasty and pleasant evening.