Let me begin with a confession; this was my first trip to a casino, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I envisioned designer dresses, lavish cocktails and going all in on black.
I must watch too many movies, as in reality it, it was a far more relaxed experience, but I was instantly won over by the upmarket décor; a blend of subtle beige and brown with hints of gold and cream.
We were escorted into the restaurant, which is situated above the casino; high enough that you are not part of the gambling atmosphere, and seated with a hand-picked medley of the local blogging community. Where, complementary cocktail in hand [I opted for the Strawberry Bellini], we started the formal introductions.
The first thing you need to know about the menu at Napoleons, is that it changes every month. And, if you’re anything like me, who tends to like to give a restaurant a few tries before adding it to my list of ‘favourite places to go’, you’ll welcome that; anywhere you can come back to again and again without having the same thing twice is a bonus.
The next thing you need to know is that it is surprisingly affordable. From Sunday to Friday a three course meal will set you back £21. And if you fancy upgrading to the Dine in Style package, which comprises a choice of drink on arrival, three-course dinner and £5 gaming chip, it’s just £2 extra.
Once settled and acquainted we ordered starters; I opted for the goats cheese curd on toast, which was beautifully presented, featuring a large dollop of creamed goat’s cheese and small pile of brioche, and my partner ordered the garlic scented potato soup with porcini mushrooms; which he said had the perfect amount of seasoning, just enough to give you a full range of flavours but not enough garlic to blow your head off.
For my main dish I ordered the seared escalope of salmon, tenderstem broccoli and mussel jus, which was divine, and my partner ordered the fillet of beef, and a small pile of asparagus baked in Parma ham off to the side.
The beef was cooked perfectly to medium rare and delicately smothered in fig purée and tarragon jus, which had a zesty bite and worked incredibly well together.
Alongside the main course, we were also presented with a whacking great bowl of boiled potatoes, and a selection of steamed vegetables, and my entrée arrived with a generous portion of celeriac mash.
We ordered our deserts, before being ushered into the casino for some gaming tuition; as you walk into the casino you’re asked if you’re a member [we weren’t, so we had a quick walk through of the rules before being accompanied onto the casino floor.]
It wasn’t what I expected; for a Friday evening it was surprisingly peaceful, though I imagine it’d be quite atmospheric in the early hours when there are more people placing bets.
Returning to the restaurant, we were greeted by our desserts; an elegantly dressed coconut and honey tartlet, doused in clotted cream and toffee sauce, and salted caramel crème brûlée, which were enjoyably rich and dense.
Then, complimentary £5 gaming chip in hand; which naturally, my partner went on to lose, we sat down at the roulette table for a nail-biting gaming experience as I went all in on 17 black.
Luck was on my side and I cashed out at the end of the evening £30 up; not quite the millionaire I had envisioned, but considering this was my first casino experience, I was impressed.
Ok, so it wasn’t quite Monte Carlo, but all in all it was a delicious meal and an enjoyable evening. The food was a lot better than I had anticipated, and it turns out the Strawberry Bellini’s don’t leave you nursing a hangover.