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Spyglass in the summer I get. Summery food, sitting outdoors people-watching down by the river while chomping on some barbecue food in the sunshine, it all goes well together. But in the winter? It’s the restaurant’s new thing and I’m keen to see if it works. Where the lights of Spyglass would normally be switched off and the staff in hibernation, there’s now a glowing tent serving tasty food, all the way to the end of the year.

It’s the first time in its history that Spyglass won’t be shutting up shop over the cold and shivery season, and instead they plan to tempt us in with food from the barbecue and a new winter warmers menu. I had premonitions of seeing my breath in front of me, but I’m glad to say I was wrong. What greeted us on entry was a cosy eatery, with the big top-style roof lit up with glowing paper lanterns and a band setting up in the corner.

Our warm welcome was echoed by the staff – they quickly fixed us some drinks (mulled wine for me, ginger beer for her) and left us to choose a starter. When they saw us floundering, they quickly stepped in with a recommendation of hummus, which was spot on.

We didn’t need any help with the mains, although it should be mentioned that we both took a bullet in the cause of duty. It was Oktoberfest week and the restaurant was having a one-week-only special matching sausages and cider and we desperately wanted to try them out, but in the interests of giving you a fair review of the menu that’s on offer for the rest of the season, we went for King Spare Ribs and a Lamb Tagine, the former from the classic BBQ menu and the latter from the new winter warmers one. It was a tough choice and it was all for you.

The menu is a meat lover’s dream with sausages, steaks, burgers and kebabs, and the good thing about it is that it works for everyone. We spotted students with their parents getting stuck in as well as groups of friends and couples on date nights, as I grabbed my ribs with both hands and got stuck in. There were a lot of ribs to get through, chocked with meat which fell off the bone, all glazed in a thick sticky barbeque sauce. The tagine equally was everything it should be. Melt in the mouth lamb, apricots and a rich, thick slightly spiced sauce. It was all served atop a simple couscous and a side of bread.

Stuffed to the gills for around a tenner each, our stomachs said no but our greedy instinct kicked in and we went for a baked cheesecake to share to finish off the meal. The winter berry compote was just right with the warm vanilla crust and the generous portion meant that neither of us felt short-changed. The music, courtesy of the Eastern European-inspired Troika trio was loud and foot-stomping and brought in even more people and the atmosphere went from warm and cosy to positively lively.

Spyglass has done the right thing. It’s a place where you could take your workmates, your partner or treat your kids – and the prices are insanely good, with the tagine costing £8.95 and the ribs at £6.95. It’s a great start to an evening – the only thing we didn’t like was that there wasn’t somewhere to sit and while away the evening in comfort by the bar. But that’s a tiny concern, all things considered.

As the winter draws in, the fun’s not over: watch out for Christmas parties at Spyglass (£10 for a two-course lunch, £15 for a three-course lunch or dinner) and a New Year’s Eve Beach Party, where bikinis, Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts are compulsory.

About Matt

Matt has written 163 posts on this blog.

Hi, I'm Matt, Editor in Chef, here at FFFY. I hope you enjoy our freshly squeezed recipes, news and views!

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