There's always room for dessert at The Glutton Club, Shrewsbury

It’s the first rule of The Glutton Club, always leave room for dessert because they’re so good one just won’t be enough

Let’s start with dessert. Actually, scratch that. Let’s start with four.

My friend and I had booked into The Glutton Club, on Shrewsbury’s Welsh Bridge, after hearing exceedingly good word-of-mouth reports about the new venue.

We’d munched our way through a delicious amuse bouche, exceptional starters and an extravagant main. Truthfully, we were full. We could barely eat another mouthful.

Our waiter came over and asked whether we’d like to see the dessert menu. We exchanged meaningful glances, the sort that say: “I fancy it, but I shouldn’t.....but, go on then, let’s.”

And so the dessert menu was presented to us.

The choice was simple: meringue, chocolate fondant, rhubarb and apple crumble or local cheeses.

My friend demurred “I’m not sure about this,” she said. When pressed, she agreed that we should order at least one dessert. The decision was easy to make. We went for the lightest, least calorific and most refreshing of the lot: meringue. “But can we have two spoons,” she said. “We’ll share.”

Five minutes later, an elegantly sculpted meringue found its way onto our table. It was garnished with strawberries, raspberries, vanilla cream and swishes of summer fruit coulis.

And then the fighting began. The meringue hovered nervously between us, not knowing which way to turn. Our spoons were poised like daggers, ready to cut the heart from it. Forget the famed Vienetta adverts, or eating the last Rolo; this was guns at dawn.

Boom!: My friend looked away, momentarily, and I scooped up a mouthful.

Kerpow!: I look too long to swallow, and my friend nicked the strawberries.

Splat!: My friend’s phone rang and her attention was diverted.

Safe to say, the meringue didn’t last longer than a minute. We looked at each other, like prize fighters entering the 12th and final round. My friend was aggrieved – I’d nicked the raspberries: I was smarting – she’d taken the vanilla cream.

The waiter passed our table. “Erm, excuse me,” I said. “Could we order the crumble.”

And so our duelling continued. Over a deliciously sharp fruit crumble with a sweet and crunchy topping, we fought for our favourite bits. My friend was quick on the draw and light work of the homemade vanilla ice cream. I wolfed down the apple and rhubarb. She polished off the crumble topping.

Our face-off went into overtime.

The waiter passed our table: “Did you enjoy that,” he said, his eyebrow arched knowingly.

“Another meringue,” my friend blurted, taking us all by surprise. I’ve seen mates go at it in the bar, upping the ante and ordering one for the road. Our dinner date was the sweet version of that. It was dessert wars. We were determined to fight for the last, candied morsel.

The second plate of meringue arrived. “I take it you’ll need two spoons,” said the waiter, by now wise to our encounter. He placed the spoons beside the plate, which was located in the centre of the table. They looked to us like pistols. Would she be quicker, or would I?

And so it went on. Boom. Kerpow. Splat. Our third dessert was demolished.

The waiter passed by to remove the plate. “I’m afraid that’s the last one,” he said. “You’ve eaten the lot.”

“Fine,” my friend interjected. “Then we’ll go for the hot chocolate fondant.”

Ding. Ding. Round Four.

The chef, who by now had left his kitchen and was standing at the bar, talking with friends, rolled his eyes. Wearily, he trudged back to the kitchen. Though I’m sure I saw a glimmer of a smile arc across his mouth. We were paying him the highest compliment. His food was so enjoyable that, defying all conventions of etiquette, we were ordering plateful after plateful after plateful.

Ten minutes later, the fondant arrived. It was perfect. The cake-like outer broke away to reveal a gooey, liquid centre. It ran like a river of chocolate and my friend and I ate it with the enthusiasm of Augustus Gloop at Willy Wonka’s factory.

I didn’t see much of the ice cream, my quick-spooned friend made sure of that, and the fondant was soon gone.

By now, the restaurant had started to clear. We’d been at the Glutton Club for two-and-a-half hours, enjoying a truly memorable dinner. We’d eaten exquisite food, enjoyed friendly service and nattered away all evening. I paid our bill and we decided to leave.

The Glutton Club initially started life as a ‘pop-up’ restaurant, a concept that was started by Shrewsbury’s Charles Darwin in his university years. Charles and his friends would meet every week to sample new, exotic foods and as the food would change so too would the venue, with a different student dorm chosen each week to play host to the tasting.

The Glutton Club menu focuses on fresh seasonal produce, simple and imaginative dishes and quality British cuisine, such as Red leg partridge with lentils, spiced pear and Brussels sprouts; trio of local lamb cutlets, crispy belly and ballotine of shoulder; to George Cavendish’s signature ‘Gluttonous’ sharing platters, which prove that gluttony doesn’t have to be a sin.

It has the ambience of a private dining club in Soho. It’s a treat to eat there. The room has plenty of wood, mirrors and, strangely, a large, golden plastic bull’s head. The bull’s head is ironic, I presumed, but it doesn’t detract from the overall ‘feel’.

Back in the day, I used to enjoy late-night suppers on Friday evenings in the heart of London. A group of us would troop up the stairs of premises in Greek Street, Wardour Street and other places, where we’d find ourselves in centuries old rooms. We’d tuck into late-night scoff – and love every inebriated moment. The atmosphere would be as warm as a summer’s day, with people enjoying complimentary bonhomie along with their menu. The Glutton Club is much the same.

George Cavendish has a wonderful philosophy on food. His food is intended to be enjoyed. Unlike some restaurants, it’s not designed to knock the diner out by offering voluminous portions. Nor, like fancy dan eateries, is it showy or ostentatious. Instead, it’s there to augment social evenings among friends. There are sharing platters, so that people can pick up whatever they fancy, chatting as they do. It’s a great concept and one that will be an integral part of Shropshire’s dining scene.

We started with an amuse bouche, comprising breasola with rocket and small segments of lemon. The meat was delicious, though the lemon was too sharp. No matter, it made for a pleasing introduction to The Glutton Club.

Next came our starters. I’d opted for a cheese soufflé, which was served with pomegranate seeds. The sharp pomegranate cut through the richness of the cheese. It was a delight. My friend opted for a gin and tonic-cured salmon starter, which was stunning. 

Our main course was a rib of beef, served with triple cooked chips, charred banana shallots and roasted cherry tomatoes. It was sublime. It had been roasted for half an hour, so the fat within the rib had started to break down and run through the deliciously tender pink meat. 

The chips weren’t the best triple-cooked that I’ve ever tasted: they weren’t sufficiently crisp on the outside. But those were small gripes. The food was an absolute treat. 

The friendly, down-at-home Glutton Club ethos permeates its way through the service. Our waiter and waitress were assured and confident. They were pleasant and polite – laughing at our dessert wars – and returning to our table frequently to offer additional drinks. We enjoyed a relaxed, convivial, tasty evening and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others.

The Glutton Club offers a different style of eating to any other restaurant in Shropshire. It’s more sociable, more fun. Great food, great company and relaxing.

The Glutton Club, 65-167 Frankwell, Shrewsbury, SY3 8LG www.curiouseats.co.uk

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