DID you know Dan's Kitchen in St Helens had closed?

In the same venue is the cautiously-named 33 St Helens.

We'd heard positive murmurs about it. Could an appropriate successor have arrived at St Helens so quickly?

Matt's uncomplicated starter of pork belly was exquisite — the tender, tasty meat fell apart in the mouth.

With apple puree and slaw, topped by a perfectly-crispy salty crackling crust that was a technical tour de force.

Like the Isle of Wight cheeseboard, Arreton Valley heritage tomatoes are an easy win with which a venue can bang the local food drum.

Cat's salad included a traffic-light selection of red cherry, yellow golden classic and show-stopping green tiger, with its distinctive striped skin.

A mild basil pesto and the silkiest mozzarella let the flavour of the tomatoes take centre stage.

Matt's melt-in-the-mouth lamb rump with baby turnips, pea puree and herb polenta he supplemented with a side of gremolata potatoes.

Tiny baby turnips were the stars — the most delicate turnips Matt had ever eaten.

Cod fillet, prosciutto and new potato salad satisfied Cat.

A big wedge of fish with nicely-seasoned skin. Samphire to garnish, plus brittle paper-thin ham, gave the dish a further flavour boost.

With firm new potatoes and tasty broad beans, which are having their moment in the food trend spotlight, this summery dish had everything going for it.

Our desserts were delicious.

The richest chocolate mousse undersold itself when it said it came with raspberry. There were in fact two raspberries. The lightest smear of salted caramel teased from beneath a morsel of vanilla ice-cream.

Cat's lemon cheesecake was surprisingly light and fluffy — the first spoonful fooling her into thinking this pudding would be of no consequence.

However, it had a satisfying citrus kick, its flavour intensity matched by that of sweet crunchy honeycomb. A strikingly flavourful raspberry sorbet held up its end too.

33 St Helens is a great successor to Dan's Kitchen and, indeed, St Helens Restaurant before that.

The little venue's intimate, relaxed feel is retained; 33 St Helens sets standards in both food and service that are as high if not higher than its worthy predecessors. The attentive and informal service was particularly impressive. We recommend you put on your best smart-casual clobber, raid your piggy-bank and spoil yourself.

Matt and Cat's bill

IW heritage tomatoes, mozzarella and watercress pesto £8

Pork belly, apple puree and slaw £7

Cod fillet £18

Lamb rump £20

Gremolata potatoes £4

Lemon cheesecake £7

Chocolate mousse £8

500ml Nero D'Avola wine £13

Virgin ginger mojito £4

Total £89

Four stars: very good indeed, well worth seeking out.

Read a longer version of this review, and others, at Matt and Cat's Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide.

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