Thursday, 20th October 2016 – Vibin’s, Buckingham
Vibin’s, nee Halibut once upon a time, was a restaurant on our radar ever since the late and much-lamented Roade House went the way of all flesh and robbed us of a regular, not too expensive but very good indeed, eating haunt. And so, on a cold, damp October evening we headed over the county boundary to Buckingham to see what they had to offer.
Back when it was Halibut it’s fair to say that the decor was not exactly subtle with fish wallpaper, and quite a lot of bright orange and green detailing. Now it’s completely changed – to be expected of course with new owners in place – and is decked out in subtle shades of browns and greys, with lots of candles, and – and this is something so many restaurants can’t manage – plenty of space between tables.
We started with a glass of prosecco, and sank into contemplation of the menu. There were half a dozen choices of starter, and the same for mains, which points to fresh ingredients and a kitchen not trying to be all things to all people, a massive point in favour of them before we even tasted any food!
After some debate we finally reached a conclusion that we could both agree on. This is important as we normally choose two different starters that we both like and then swap halfway, and the same with the main courses. For starters we went for a pigeon and beetroot salad, and were very pleased with it.I know beetroot is very much one of the ingredients du jour, but I’m fine with that, especially when it’s been cooked to the point of light stickiness. It was, of course, ideal with the generous amounts of pigeon breast and leg too, and the dressing was a lovely thing, perking up the modest amount of greenery. Oh and there was unexpected Parma ham too! What’s not to like?
For the other starter we plumped for the crab scotch egg. The texture was a bit odd, with perhaps more brown meat than might be entirely helpful but that was presumably to make sure the coating actually stuck to the egg. The taste was good, the egg nicely cooked with a soft yolk and the outer crunch of crumbs was well-executed too. It was just the texture that I wasn’t overly keen on. Oh, and the mustard hit of the mayo could have been stronger perhaps, but then there would be people who wouldn’t like that. I’d call it a partial success.
We moved on to the mains. That involved a nicely executed seabass with a lively salad, including some delightful cherry tomatoes, a dash of olives, a mass of French beans, and some sliced (and very lively) chorizo to offset the creamy flesh of the fish, a very Mediterranean offering that made me think of summer on the Riviera. The skin was well-crisped too and a pleasure to eat and it went down very well with both of us.
For the other main we opted for the lamb rump. This came with celeriac gratin and green beans and was as near perfect as a piece of lamb can get. Loved it. It was just the right level of pink, tender and delicious (and huge mind you). We managed to finish the fish and meat but I’m afraid the vegetables defeated us. We did make a valiant effort but it wasn’t enough! Never mind. Better to leave some that stuff your stomach to the point of discomfort.
Dessert was included on the Groupon, but we couldn’t manage a whole one each so it was a glass of dessert wine and a Bailey’s creme brulee with two spoons to finish. It came with a lavender shortbread which was perfectly perfumed and was the ideal way to end what had proven to be a very good meal indeed.
Service was enthusiastic and knowledgeable and I hope they do well in what is something of a backwater in culinary terms – or at least has been until recently/ We booked to go again (without a Groupon) and will see if they can keep this standard of cooking up. There’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Vibin’s and to wish them well.