New chef launches exciting seasonal menus
Holly Christian visits The Market Lounge, Witham St Hughs to enjoy fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere.
Situated between Hykeham and Newark, the award-winning eatery The Market Lounge can be found in the modern village of Witham St Hughs.
Owner Gary Molyneux and his daughter Hannah opened the stylish café bar in March 2018 and it has been a firm favourite ever since. Living locally themselves, the father-daughter duo knew Witham St Hughs would be a perfect setting for a bistro and when the building permission was approved they jumped at the chance.
We visited on a heady summer night; surrounded by beautiful festoon lighting with a flagstoned patio area and bistro tables to the front, The Market Lounge has an extremely welcoming feeling. It is the perfect place for dinner and drinks on a summer evening, a quick cake and coffee catch-up or a delicious Sunday morning breakfast – in fact with its large parasols and toasty patio heaters, the outdoor area is perfect for any time and season. Inside the relaxed and intimate ambience continued with dimmed lighting, a range of plush furnishings and an industrial looking interior. Lush faux foliage hangs round the bar area, bringing the outside in.
The Market Lounge offers a range of menus including breakfast (served 9-11am), lunchtime (12-4pm), dinner (5-9pm) and a children’s menu, together with a specialised Sunday lunch menu. With a large range of drinks, including separate wine and cocktail menus, there is something for everyone.
Prompted by the pandemic The Market Lounge has had a change of direction. After hiring head chef, Peter Kirk, and handing him the reins for the new menus, the already popular restaurant has gone from strength to strength. Created seasonally by Peter, the menus are devised with fresh, local and seasonal produce in mind.
We were welcomed by the friendly team who were on hand to guide us through our first visit; our waitress, Beth, was incredibly helpful, talking us through the menus and specials and offering suggestions. The hospitality team had a great relationship with the customers and treated everyone like old friends. The cocktail menu offered many classics, including Long Island ice tea and Cosmopolitans. I settled on a refreshing Passoã Mojito, a fruity take on a traditional mojito which was a mix of three-year-old Havana rum, Passoã and sugar syrup, topped with soda.
After ordering our drinks we perused the dinner menu. There were many temptations from the starters menu, but after much deliberation, I chose the Whipped Goat’s Cheese, Roasted Red Onion, Crushed Hazelnuts, Crostini and Truffle Dressing, while my guest chose Curried Carrot and Coriander Soup with Cumin Oil. The presentation of both our starters was stunning and they tasted just as good as they looked. The whipped goat’s cheese is made using fresh goat’s log; first of all they remove the rind, then they break down the cheese, slowly whipping it to a smooth consistency – combined with the rich flavour of the roasted red onion and the crispy crostini for texture, the whole dish was a delight.
The main menu features several favourite staples such as the Homemade Beef Burger and Beer Battered Haddock, but as delicious as these sounded, I chose the Chicken Breast, Confit Potato, Bacon, Baby Gem Lettuce, Broad Bean Fricassee and Whole Grain Mustard Sauce. The chicken is cooked sous-vide to ensure it is tender and juicy; it is then roasted in butter to make the skin crispy. My guest chose the Chef’s Special of Pork Loin Steak with Confit Potato, French Beans and Olive Salsa. The olive salsa was deliciously fresh and the combination of flavours worked brilliantly paired with the pork steak. I loved my choice and it was truly one of the best dishes I have eaten recently.
We couldn’t resist sampling the desserts, particularly the moist Sticky Toffee Pudding, Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Toffee Sauce which was one of the dishes recommended by Beth and it certainly did not disappoint! My companion chose the Chocolate Brownie, Clotted Cream and Chocolate Custard. The desserts were the perfect end to a fantastic meal.
If you want fine dining with a relaxed, ambient atmosphere The Market Lounge is the place. Peter is currently working on the autumn menu offerings and I am already looking forward to a return visit.