Saturday, 28th July 2018 – Bar Encore, The Rice Bowl, Towcester
Well, we made a second stab at Bar Encore in town, hoping to test out their food. The menu claims they do tapas, but the reality that evening turned out to be that there was some technical issue in the kitchen which meant there would be no food for anyone that night! I’m beginning to think we’re jinxing the place… We did get to teach the cocktail barman how to make a caipiroska though. Actually after our initial visit, this time I asked for a caiprinha and he pretty much asked me to talk him through it. However, as he couldn’t find any cachaça we ended up with vodka instead and thus a caipiroska. He wanted to know if a caipiroska was really a thing, and I was able to reassure him that yes, it very much is a thing. So now he knows how to make a caipiroska and just needs to substitute cachaça to make a caipirinha next time.
So with no prospect of tapas for dinner, we bickered for a while about where we should go, and finally decided that the Rice Bowl was the only sensible option on a busy Saturday evening. We didn’t want to end up with vast quantities of food, but I do love a prawn toast or two… and theirs are very good ones, with a lovely dense layer of prawns on top and lots of good healthy sesame seeds.
We then decided that we would go for the crispy lamb, rather than the usual duck pancakes. Basically this is much the same but with shredded lamb instead of duck. You get sticky building and eating them, and there’s always plenty of filling materials.
There are certainly more than enough pancakes for two people (with 6 pancakes to share).
Rolled up with shredded spring onions, and strips of celery, and basted in plum sauce, they’re a basic but necessary pleasure now and then. Even if I usually come away feeling as if I need a shower afterwards.
And any lamb fragments left can be dredged through the plum sauce, allowing me to practice my chopstick skills.
We chose just two main dishes even though these are not enormous. I did also request the noodles with bean sprouts, even though I’m the only one of us who really likes them. They are somewhat oily, but the bean sprouts usually have a good crunch to them and I enjoy the contrast in textures, as well as the slightly fierce spicing that goes on.
With those, and a portion of steamed rice, we went for the Kung Pao (or Kung Po as it’s written on the menu) king prawns. I love these, with a crunchy batter coat and another incredibly sticky sauce, speckled with chilli flakes and enough heat to be enjoyable without edging over into inedible. It was the milder of the two mains as it turned out.
The beef in black bean sauce was far hotter, with some hidden (and not so hidden) slices of red chilli peppers that really did make your eyes water. The beef was lovely and tender though, and we enjoyed everything we had. We were also kept entertained by the presence of most of the owner’s children who were there to celebrate their mother’s birthday. We hadn’t seen some of them in some considerable while, so there was a lot catching up to do.
Eventually we paid the bill and wandered home, happy, full, but still without having tried the food at Bar Encore. One of these days… we’ll try one more time before giving up on them!