The name of a restaurant has been the ruin of many a poor boy. You want it memorable and easily searched, but not bad taste or plain stupid. Soho’s Flavour Bastard may possibly be a great restaurant but it hasn’t made life easy for itself. Sexy Fish in the same city is just plain ridiculous (fish can’t be sexy. Apart from Michael Fish, the irresistible stud muffin). A Welsh friend told me about a Chinese restaurant in his village which was called Chinky Garden that thankfully changed names when it changed owners. At least the above names are memorable. Some are just instantly forgettable, others impossible to search. Shrewsbury’s House of The Rising Sun is the latter. Just try Googling it yourself – all that comes up is one of the most iconic songs of all time. A week on from eating there it’s just dawned on me that the name is a reference to the Japanese influence on the menu, but even so. Only an absolute Animal would have the balls to do it.
Inside the room is dimly lit and smart, as much a venue for the evening as the wet and cold lunch we dine on. The menu is vast, mostly nodding towards Asia with the occasional fleck of Mediterranea. Given that the dinner we were en route to was twenty or so courses, we keep it relatively light and order from the small plates section. And chips. Wherever I am I in the world a lunchtime must include chips. Bread is the first thing to arrive, fat wedges with a tray of olive oil and two vinegars; balsamic and white wine. There is a small roundel of butter from a producer that I know is used in at least two Michelin starred restaurants. It is this attention to detail that counts.
That Asian influence is there with aubergine in tempura batter. The batter is dainty and greaseless, from the hands of a man who has travelled and obsesses of recreating tempura authentically. The lavender on the honey on the side is nice touch, the floral sweetness working well to lift the eggplant. Duck gyoza has gossamer thin crimped dumpling holding sweet duck meat. It’s textbook in delivery. These two bits are the highlight of our lunch.
Chorizo and cheese croquettes are crisp and generous for being full of the listed ingredients, though I happen to think a little mashed potato goes a long way to distributing the flavour with these things. The most complicated of the dishes ordered happened to be the only one that we didn’t finish. Scallops, pork belly, morcilla, and cherry. The main components are great, the scallop accurately cooked and the pig belly fantastic, it’s just the morcilla is gritty and loaded with salt and is not particularly pleasant when combined with the cherry gel. It’s okay because we have chips. Bloody lovely fat chips with bloody lovelier aoli so light I guess its been aerated. You can never go wrong with chips at lunch.
The bill works out at twenty quid a head with just water to drink, which seems a fair price. I enjoyed the House of The Rising Sun, the food leans towards the East and delivers with good technique. It’s made me want to go back and dig further in to the menu. Somewhere with such a large offering is never going to hit every mark, but the best dishes are very nice indeed.