The George in the Terrace has an outside sitting area on the footpath which seems to be very popular; inside is a large, nicely furnished and equipped open and airy space which serves as the bar and casual eating area, while towards the back, fenced off with partitioning, is a more formal dining room.
We went along the other night – four of us – and chose to sit in the dining room at the back. Lady FWO and I arrived first and were seated – but then seemingly forgotten – no water, no menu, no drinks list – after 10 minutes or so I got up and waylaid a waiter. Things then picked up a notch – the lists arrived, as did water, and then the first of our guests. The George claims itself as a “sophisticated restaurant” but the initial lack of service did not give that impression.
Anyway on to the menu -it is divided into Small Bites – olives; bread and dips; arancini; meatballs; fried chicken and the like – Mains, which included gnocchi, duck breast, pork belly, fish and chips – and From the Grill – sirloin and eye fillet. Some sides and desserts rounded it out.
There is also a Specials of the Day list, and one of our party chose the Cajun chicken and salad from that – it comes with a drink. He went for James Squire pale ale. For the rest of us, we ordered four of the Small Bites – feta and watermelon salad; prawn and saffron arancini; tomato and mozzarella croquettes; and salt and pepper squid.
The squid was a little overcooked, too crisp, even a touch burned, but was still quite tasty. The salt and pepper spices were about right, and the garlic aioli was creamy and well flavoured. A little less time in the pan would have been better, we thought.
The salad came with a large square of feta – it would have been more attractive and better presented if this had been shredded and sprinkled throughout the dish; the water melon while still juicy had the appearance of being cut some time before and had lost its edge of freshness. The leaves were, on the other hand, crisp and crunchy. The pine nuts and raisins scattered through added good flavour and mouth feel.
Our arancini presented well on the plate – large balls with a prawn burrowing into each – but while the prawn was well cooked, retaining a nice bite, the rice was under seasoned and bland. The aioli stained with squid ink was delicious and helped offset the lack of seasoning of the rice balls themselves.
The croquettes, long cigar shaped tubes, were set on top of a basil flavoured purée. They had good flavour, with strong tomato piquancy offset by the more mellow tones of the cheese. They were slightly oily, but overall we found them enjoyable and appetizing.
The final dish, the chicken, was again a little under seasoned – especially so as it was advertised as having Cajun flavours – while the fattoush salad had slices of toasted baguette bread rather than the more traditional broken pita or flat bread, and lacked some of the expected flavours of this Middle Eastern dish – sumac, lemon. The advertised marinated feta was nowhere to be seen.
The wine list – which has seven or eight of each of red and white, plus half a dozen sparkling and a couple of rosé by the glass is well put together with some interesting choices available. Between us we ordered a glass of rosé, 2013 Dandelion Fairytale, from the Barossa; a couple of glasses of Louis Bouillot Blanc de Blanc NV from France and a bottle of 2013 Tonfoolery Youngblood Grenache also from the Barossa.
The rosé had excellent spicy notes on the nose – hints of cardamom and cinnamon, while the raspberry tones of the palate ensured it was quite dry, fresh and zesty. It is a very good food wine.
The sparkling was pale straw in colour, with a long lasting fine bead. It has lifted yeasty aromas, and on the palate quite distinct citrus and grapefruit flavours, which are ripe and lingering. It has good acid and a long satisfying finish.
Tomfoolery Grenache is quite light in colour, with mulberry and cherry aromas, with some herbal undertones. On the palate it exhibits plummy, sweet berry flavours, with refined tannins producing a light, juicy, smooth finish.
The George has the feel of an inner city tavern rather than the sophisticated restaurant it aspires to be. The food is more pub than posh, and, from what we experienced, a little hit and miss. It certainly is well fitted out and attractive and is popular with the lunch and after work crowd, so it must be doing something right. The service, once it starts, is fine, the waiters are friendly and engaging. For us, on this visit, it just didn’t hit the mark.