So it made sense to pop out for some food, drinks and a bit of a laugh to toast both occasions – and one place I had fancied trying for a good few months was the Old Glasshouse in Dudley.
It just seemed to stick out a bit from all the others eateries in and around the town centre. Open plan layout, big windows, nice decor, it ticked all the boxes for somewhere to celebrate that was fairly local.
Our friends, Jo and Dale, had travelled down from Leyland – with Dale being one of those university pals who never moved from where he studied – so after a few drinks at home we headed out.
As we had reserved a table for 5pm on a Saturday, which was when the restaurant was just opening for the evening, we were the first ones in but the place soon filled up pretty quickly. It was clear the venue was a popular place.
After ordering drinks, we were seated on a lovely table right next to one of the windows. Perhaps I’m looking at the place through rose-tinted glasses but that particular part of Dudley, around Priory Street, has been done up really nicely.
Anyway, we decided to share our starters between couples, and there was plenty of choice too – such as soup of the day with rustic bread, sautéed king prawns in white wine sauce, and spicy piri piri chicken wings, with homemade hot sauce.
As I was sharing with my wife, Kelly, anything too hot went straight out of the window so it was a toss up between the Greek lamb and feta salad, of tomato and cucumber salad with spiced lamb, feta cheese, peppers and mint, or the lamb koftas.
We went for the latter and it was a good choice too. The meat had been seasoned and flavoured really nicely, not to overbearing but also lifting the taste of the lamb to a new level.
The meat had also been cooked nicely and eaten with some of the accompanying salad was a lovely way to start the meal. Sharing was probably a good idea too as there was plenty of it.
Dale and Jo went for the baked mushroom stuffed with cheese, jalapenos, garlic and breadcrumbs, served with iceberg salad.
Again, the starter had been very nicely put together – the presentation really was top notch for every dish we had – and the cheese really went nicely with the mushrooms.
Of course the jalapenos also gave it a lovely little kick. I know this because I asked for a bite. After all, it was me writing the review.
Another nice touch was the pause between the main meals and the starters. All too often once you’ve finished the first dish, the second is immediately on its way.
It’s an annoying trait that seems to happen far to regularly, so when you’re not rushed and are able to relax, have a chat and let the starters go down, it really does make a difference.
Plus it usually means the party is more likely to order more drinks, so it’s a win-win situation for all involved, especially when it’s a double celebration.
When it came to the mains, again there was plenty of choice and nothing was overly priced either.
It was a tough decision to make, when there were the likes of a slow-cooked blade of beef, creamy mash, fine beans, red wine, smoked bacon, mushrooms and shallots.
Or deep-fried breadcrumbed chicken breast topped with tomato and herb sauce, three cheeses, onions and mushrooms, served with chips and iceberg salad.
Or Glasshouse Balti, which was an authentic medium-spiced curry, served with basmati rice and naan bread, that came with a choice of chicken tikka, king prawn or mushrooms.
Or the linguine with a rich tomato sauce with garlic, basil and oregano, again served with either chicken, king prawn, or simply with olives and peppers.
There were also the usual burgers and steaks from the grill to choose from but for me there were two meals that really stood out.
The first was Greek lamb, which was slow-cooked lamb spiced with cumin, oregano, garlic and smoked paprika, served with feta salad and thyme roasted new potatoes.
It sounded superb and had I not already opted for the koftas I would have chosen that but another that really caught my eye was the spicy jerk chicken, which came served with chips and salad.
I hadn’t had jerk chicken for so long and it really is a wonderful meal. I would perhaps have gone for the more traditional rice and peas but chips sounded good for a change.
The meal was very nice. The chicken had that lovely ever-so-slightly charcoal taste as it had been grilled to perfection and underneath the meat was nice and tender.
The only downside was the fact the jerk sauce didn’t really have the kick I was hoping for. It was still flavoursome but did seem to be lacking some of the heat. Even so, it was very tasty and it was a struggle to finish it all as there was plenty of it too. Kelly went for what I found out, whilst chatting to some of the other diners in the venue – it was that kind of place, very laid back and relaxed – was one of the restaurants most sought-after dishes.
And that was the grilled fillet of sea bass, served with thyme roasted new potatoes, wilted spinach, fine beans and white wine sauce.
Again, it was expertly presented and came served with what Kelly described as a crispy, large hash brown, which tasted great and went really well with the sauce.
The green beans and the sea bass, nestled on top, were cooked to perfection. The skin had a slight crisp but the flesh was succulent.
Kelly said the combination was amazing and the meal was also light but filling – she didn’t want it to end and would definitely order it again, so it’s fair to say she enjoyed it.
Dale went for the large fish and chips, which was a large battered cod fillet served with mushy peas. He said the fish tasted very fresh and it was a very enjoyable meal. Jo also lapped up her grilled chicken skewers.
Everyone commented on what a great atmosphere the place had and how helpful the staff were. It was buzzing by the time we left and was filled with quite a variety of people – we even chatted to some American tourists who had popped in after visiting the Black Country Living Museum.
I was far too full for a dessert but Jo and Kelly had found room for one, and they were both celebrating too, so why not?
They shared a warm chocolate brownie, which came served with salted caramel sauce and ice cream.
Again, it was really nicely presently and was the perfect dish to share. Rich, smooth and delicious was the verdict, so a lovely way to round off the meal.
The Old Glasshouse is a bit of a hidden gem but once you’ve found it, you’ll certainly be heading back for more.