Posts Tagged ‘O’Connor’s Secret Garden’

Christmas dinner at O’Connor’s Secret Garden

December 17, 2015
O'Connor's Secret Garden

O’Connor’s Secret Garden

Wednesday evening, on my way back from a visit to Winchester Christmas market, I alighted off the bus, walked through Alton, to eat at O’Connor’s Secret Garden.

I knew what I wanted. Peter welcomed me in. We do not  have pork medallions on the menu, but we can do for you.

Why did I have two menus? One was a Christmas menu.  I was going to treat myself to steak. The Christmas menu was cheaper than having steak. Against my better judgement, I decided on the Christmas menu. A mistake, as not very good. Unusual for Peter, as food usually excellent.

I recommended he ditched Hog’s Back Brewery and instead bought in from The Little Beer Corporation.  And certainly not serve rubbish such as Fosters.

Dinner at O’Connor’s Secret Garden

September 10, 2015
dinner at O'Connor's Secret Garden

dinner at O’Connor’s Secret Garden

vegetables

vegetables

O'Connor's Secret Garden

O’Connor’s Secret Garden

O'Connor's Secret Garden

O’Connor’s Secret Garden

Wednesday is street food day in Winchester.

Excellent cappuccino off Jimmy Bean, but then I expect nothing less. I also had lunch, mozzarella cheese and tomato in bread hotted up in an oven, which was excellent. For dessert ginger shortbread, which was also excellent. Jimmy Bean, one of the few places in Winchester to get not only decent coffee, but also something decent to eat.

Afternoon wandering around Winchester,  bus to Alton Station.

Bus arrives at Alton Station as train leaves. Either pop into Waitrose (I did not need anything) or find somewhere to eat. I decided on O’Connor’s Secret Garden.

I alighted at one end of Alton and walked through Alton. Peter was surprised to see me, as not Saturday. I could have had gammon, but decided upon pork medallions with vegetables and colcannon potatoes. It was excellent, but then I expect no less in O’Connor’s Secret Garden.

He asked what would I like to drink. I said tea, meaning the beer. I was served tea. Easy enough mistake to make.

I did not think I would make the train, stayed for crumble. Not up to the standard of the main course, crumble should be crunchy.

I washed it down with tea.

I made the train with a couple of minutes to spare.

Dinner at O’Connor’s Secret Garden

July 18, 2015
O'Connor's Secret Garden

O’Connor’s Secret Garden

pork medallions

pork medallions

selection of vegetables

selection of vegetables

I looked in on Peter O’Connor in O’Connor’s Secret Garden.

Peter offered me a drink.

I mentioned Brock’s being closed, Mog’s Deli closed and the general state of Alton. He said Brock’s had closed several months ago. A shock as an excellent butcher. Peter said the lease due for renewal, therefore at a guess another local business driven out of business by rent hikes.

Alton a few years ago had an excellent food festival. That was where I first met Peter giving a cookery demonstration. What happened? Sponsorship by Costa one year,  Iceland another year, which somewhat lost the plot for a celebration of local food. Then taken over by Hampshire farmers markets, which killed it.

What is Alton Town Council doing? Godalming Town Council is very proactive. Maybe the example of Frome should be followed, a Flatpack Democracy revolution, ordinary  citizens take over the Town Hall.

I decided to stay and eat, even though it was turning cool and looked like rain. I was though a little disappointed to learn Peter was not cooking, but I need not have worried. The meal was excellent.

A lovely garden out the back, but as it was getting cool, I sat inside.

Pork medallions, covered in a sauce, served with vegetables.

The pork medallions, were more like slices of pork. I do not know what the sauce was, but delicious. the vegetables cooked to perfection, not overcooked, not undercooked, piping hot and served in a piping hot dish.

The potatoes, a choice of new potatoes, chips or colcannon potatoes (an Irish dish and a speciality of O’Connor’s Secret Garden). I chose colcannon potatoes as not something you get elsewhere.

A stunning blonde waitress, charming and competent.  Peter has a knack of choosing good staff.

I complimented Peter on the meal, adding that I had been worried that he was not in the kitchen.  He told me that the two of them had worked together elsewhere in the past, and yes, he had a good chef in the kitchen.

A few years ago O’Connor’s Secret Garden had very nasty fake reviews on TripAdvisor. It was therefore pleasing to see he had received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. He said it came in  the post.

O’Connor’s Secret Garden is not simply the best restaurant in Alton, it is the best in the area.

On leaving, it was, as I had feared, raining.

O’Connor’s Secret Garden

September 8, 2012
O’Connor’s Secret Garden steak

O’Connor’s Secret Garden steak

There are two excellent places to eat in Alton, the little Italian coffee shop in the town and O’Connor’s Secret Garden.

Last I was in Alton, said hello to Peter O’Connor, but was tired and did not stay to eat.

Afterwards, I thought, it would have made sense to eat as I had not eaten all day.

Today, I had a what was little more than a mediocre prawn sandwich at the Italian coffee, followed by a not very good cake and a pot of tea. The chefs had gone home. I was disappointed as that was my reason for a visit to Alton.

I was sat in the garden where I met a group of people who had been to a wedding.

As they were leaving, I offered as I was walking through Alton, then through the water meadows, I would be quite happy to show them the water meadows.

We came back via St Lawrence church, then as we passed by O’Connor’s Secret Garden, me on the way to the station, they to their hotel, I suggested we popped in for a drink as I was thirsty and I thought they would like the place.

We went through and sat in the garden. I do not know who suggested it, maybe it was the smell of the food, but by mutual consent we agreed we were hungry and it would be a good idea to stay and eat.

Peter came out and said there would be a wait as we were not booked and he had a party of ten booked.

No problem, we were happy to wait, but would relocate inside as starting to get cold.

I ordered a beer and a rib-eye steak with all the trimmings. One had haddock. I cannot recall what everyone else had, except one dish was served on a long narrow plate, with steam rising, to represent the steam trains which run from Alton, which I thought was a neat touch. Everything was served with watercress.

Watercress is grown locally. The water meadows we had walked through earlier, the source of the River Wey, were originally watercress beds, now lying derelict.

My beer was excellent, as was my steak.

The beer from Triple fff Brewery, a small local brewery, had an interesting red colour and was excellent tasting. I think it was called Wallop Wood, but cannot be sure.

Note: The beer, if it was wallops Wood is from Bowman Ales not Triple fff Brewery.

The steak, medium rare, was one of the best I have had. The only time close was at Jamie’s Italian in Guildford. I would usually have with chips, but I let the girl serving decide and it came with colcannon potatoes (an Irish dish and a speciality of O’Connor’s Secret Garden). Plus half a tomato, mushrooms and watercress. The mushrooms were delicious, cooked to perfection.

The food freshly prepared from fresh ingredients, not white chiller van hotted up.

Everyone enjoyed their meal. Apart from one dissenting voice, a chef, who quibbled the way her fish was cooked. I did suggest she went and talk to Peter, as if something was wrong, he would wish to know, but she declined.

A very charming, and stunningly attractive, girl with lovely personalty served us. An asset to O’Connor’s Secret Garden and complimented the food. She was also knowledgeable about the food.

O’Connor’s Secret Garden is the oldest residential building in Alton.

On entering O’Connor’s Secret Garden you pass through a passageway. Either side little parlours which can be used for private dining or overflow. The passageway enters the main restaurant. Through the restaurant into a lovely little garden out the back. The garden used to have tomatoes, runner beans and herbs growing, but I saw none on this visit.

We sat in the garden for a little while, then came inside as it was turning cool.

The garden is No Smoking. Too many pubs are ruined, you think sit outside in the fresh air, only to have smoke being blown in your face.

My only gripe was the music. Not the music per se, but it would have been far better no music, especially out in the garden. Late afternoon, in the little Italian coffee shop, there was no music, and that was far better.

Two very nasty reviews on TripAdvisor and one not very pleasant, either trolls or rivals dishing, that bear no resemblance to O’Connor’s Secret Garden. TripAdvisor is rapidly losing all credibility when it fails to deal with fake reviews. It also becomes a laughing stock when Alton Kebab shop (empty when we left O’Connor’s Secret Garden) is ranked No 1 on TripAdvisor. The glowing reviews for the Alton Kebab shop all saying the same thing, all singing from the same song sheet.

TripAdvisor claim to have algorithms that detect fake reviews. Must be their idea of a joke. They fail to even root out fake reviews when drawn to their attention.


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