For someone who doesn’t gamble (and I don’t count a twice weekly flutter on the National Lottery, though there are those who would) I seem to have a surprising number of casino membership cards from up and down the country in my possession.
The reason is almost entirely culinary, casino restaurants are often quieter, frequently smarter and generally better value for money than a lot of their high street competitors.
Such is certainly the case with Le Cap, the comfortable dining area of the recently re-located Paris Casino – now nestled next to the almost completed Blackpool FC hotel.
Having been among some of the last diners to enjoy a meal at its former premises before it was destroyed by fire, it was a pleasure to shortlist ourselves as two of the first to dine in the new surrounds.
The casino and restaurant walls are still filling with a colourful collection of Impressionist and Pointaliste copies, clearly designed to put diners, drinkers and, indeed, gamblers at ease.
The restaurant is designed for comfort and privacy and is still on a learning curve with what it has to offer. A daily changing table d’hote choice of two starters, soup, four main courses and four desserts is remarkable value for money (two courses £9.50, three £11.50), the a la carte is a sensibly sized selection and decently priced, and a football package for next season (three course meal before the match, half bottle of wine, free parking and cheese and biscuits after the match) is already booking up well.
After introductory hot bread and dipping oils my wife opted for the table d’hote menu, choosing to start with a traditional but well presented melon and prawns with Marie Rose sauce rather than the warm salad of bacon, black pudding and poached egg with Caesar dressing. Retro rules indeed.
For main it was braised leg of lamb with parsley mashed potatoes and red wine/rosemary sauce. Again a good choice, tender and full of flavour – and not overfacing.
It was straight to the a la carte for me. The ham potato cake with whole grain mustard and cabbage, topped with poached egg and Hollandaise sauce was as delicious as it sounded – an interesting mixture of flavours and textures, and a substantial serving.
Even with loin of lamb and ribeye steak on the menu I was still swayed by the roast breast of duck flavoured with mustard, rosemary and honey served on a pasta gallette with redcurrant and cherry sauce.
Again this was a substantial serving – particularly so after the al dente beans, broccoli, (early season) asparagus and carrots.
My only quibble was having been informed it would be pink (no objections from me there) it wasn’t. The pasta gallette was a shade disappointing, being drier than I had anticipated and indeed desired.
To accompany our meal we chose a South African Flagstone Noon Gun chenin/sauvignon blanc (a snip at £13.75). Like everything else our selection was made easier by a cautiously economical wine list – something else which Le Cap is adjusting as it goes along.
Coffee and a pint of Kronenburg concluded the proceedings and Frank Sinatra had sung himself round at a sensible volume.
A reassuringly leisurely pace of serving from the friendly and efficient staff make it a must to return, All this for around the £50 mark.
Name: Le Cap
Address: Paris Casino, Bloomfield Road, South Shore FY1 6JL.
Phone: (01253) 406888
Opening times: Daily, 6 to 10pm
Parking: Good on site Disabled access: Yes
Worth a visit for: Ambience and artworks
One thing I’d change: The bar (improvements coming soon)