Well, today’s venue has new owners, new name and new emphasis on the menu from the last time I visited, but thankfully one thing hasn’t changed: the food is as good as ever.
It’s a good year or more since I last ate at what we now call No3 The Yard, a little oasis hidden away in a courtyard off the pedestrianised Ironmonger Street (between High Street and Broad Street).
But it was the first time under the stewardship of owners Simon McEnery and chef Tim Luff, who enjoyed a stint in the kitchen while it was still known as Jim’s Yard.
Expectations were high - the place has long enjoyed a good reputation (and a Michelin Bib Gourmand rating) and I doubted that would be allowed to slip.
I was right. For starters it is a lovely little venue - the ground floor eating area is cosy (still plenty of room for our baby buggy) in a stone-built conservatory looking out onto the delightful patio area.
There’s no draught beer, but a decent selection of bottles and a good wine list.
At lunchtime there is a set menu - three courses for a very reasonable £17.50) - or you can go a la carte.
Despite the limited choice on the set menu (which is not unusual) I quickly came up with a great combination: Chicken liver parfait, chutney and toasted brioche; Confit duck, chorizo and tomato cassoulet and braised red cabbage; raspberry cranachan - in my mind a lovely, light lunch with a cold bottle of Peroni to wash it down.
Of course, all that went out of the window when I saw the specials board and my eyes lit up.
So Plan B saw me back on the main menu and a smoked haddock chowder with queen scallops starter.
“The service was spot on and the food superb in what remains a lovely little bolthole in Stamford.”Brad Barnes
It’s something I have had in Loch Fyne and really enjoyed. This, however, was on another level.
The rich creamy taste is irresistible, and with big meaty chunks of wonderful tasty smoked haddock and soft pieces of scallop it was a pure delight.
Donna, meanwhile, treated herself to the tempura battered king prawns that were as delicious as they were strange looking - they come with everything attached. Nice and meaty with a light, crisp batter they were served with a spicy little chili and ginger mayonnaise. Her only complaint was she needed a finger bowl afterwards, rather than use her napkin.
Next up (from the specials) came my braised Highland oxtail, with root veg mash and buttered curly kale.
It is not the most elegant dish, but the meat, soft and tasty, came off the bone easily enough. The mash was incredibly moreish and even when the going got tough - this was one rich dish on top of my starter - I couldn’t resist finishing it. Luckily the kale added a new texture and flavour as way of contrast.
Main course for Donna was a generous serving of coconut breaded, day boat pollock goujons.
They smelled good and tasted great - soft, flaky fish and a yummy, crunchy coating. There was bags of flavour too in the lovely curried lentils and the yogurt and mint, which she would have preferred served separately.
My only gripe: our main course came out too soon after our starters - meaning we were too stuffed for desserts and in and out within an hour.
Nevertheless the service was spot on and the food superb in what remains a lovely little bolthole in Stamford.
BRAD’S RATING: 9/10
VENUE: No. 3 The Yard, Ironmonger Street, Stamford tel 01780 756 080 www.no3theyard.co.uk @No3TheYard www.facebook.com/no3theyard
SET LUNCH MENU
Butternut squash and sweet potato soup, croutons.
Chicken liver parfait, chutney and toasted brioche.
Pan fried salmon, pea, mint and goats cheese risotto.
Confit duck, chorizo and tomato cassoulet with braised red cabbage.
Raspberry cranachan .
Milk chocolate brulee and homemade shortbread.
(2 courses £14.50/ 3 courses £17.50)
lunch main menu
Manchego and sunblush tomato potato cake, with balsamic salad £7.50
Ham hock and foie gras terrine, toasted brioche, grape and apple chutney £8.50
Smoked sprats, pickled red cabbage, lemon and garlic mayonnaise £6.50
Pan fried sea bass, buttered mash, spinach, lobster and prawn bisque sauce £17.50
Mediterranean vegetable goats cheese lasagne, garlic bread and mixed leaf salad £13
Roast duck breast, sweet potato pomme anna, honey roast carrots, beetroot, crispy kale £17.50