The Exhibition is now part of the Punch Taverns empire and licensees John and Tracey have been here two years or more. The real ale selection which greeted us was a good one – Wherry, Adnams Bitter and that old favourite, Timothy Taylor Landlord. Pints purchased, we perused the menu which retains some signature dishes from the previous regime but includes unusual offerings amongst the 17 regular mains alongside several steak and veggie options. Friend Richard had a hankering for Chicken New Yorker, no longer on the menu, so we were impressed that chef Richard was happy to rustle one up for him.
I plumped for Thai Salmon Fishcakes with chips and salad garnish £10.50). This arrived as a jolly good plateful, two fat fishcakes accompanied by chunky home-made chips and ample finely-chopped salad. The fishcakes had enough of a Thai kick to lend interest but not to the point where the salmon flavour was overwhelmed. The only slight downside was the lack of a sauce which left only the salad to counteract an overall dryness.
No such issues for Jan as her Fresh Pan-Fried Herb Chicken Breast with Chorizo Mash and Balsamic Cream and Tomato Ratatouille (£12.50) was oozing with juices. Jane's description of the sauce as “saucy” and the whole ensemble as “reet tasty” (she's from Yorkshire you see) were not to her usual incisive standards but the lass was in the process of going down with a heavy cold so can be excused. It certainly looked lovely and that bit different.
On the basis that her cold needed feeding, Jane followed with a Banofee Pie (£4.50) which very clearly hadn't come off a shelf somewhere. The spoonful I purloined was gorgeous, all rich toffee and banana, and made me regret my conservative choice of Mixed Ice Cream (£3.95) which was fine but, well, just mixed ice cream. Richard's Black Cherry Cheesecake was also pronounced a triumph (oh – and his impromptu Chicken New Yorker also got the thumbs up).
An excellent meal then an a continuing comfort to know that such goodies can be found just down the road when we want them.