You think ‘hotel restaurant’ and you think of an over-priced menu offering limited choice to its many guests, but Moltens is definitely a hotel restaurant that shakes it up a bit.
Moltens is the main restaurant in the newly refurbished Mercure Abbey Hill hotel, and it certainly does deliver in all areas. The restaurant is sophisticated in its feel, dark floors with a mix of coloured furnishings and enough space so you don’t feel as if you’re sitting on each other’s laps. The main bar area is set at the entrance to the restaurant and offers a relaxed seating area to enjoy a drink before dinner.
On offer is a set menu for either two (£15.99) or three courses (£18.99). Normally set menus fill me with dread but this one offers something a little bit different, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First we chose our starters, we went for a gorgeous salmon roulade and interesting glazed oriental chicken meatballs with sweet chilli dipping sauce. Both were really good and a great start to the meal.
Now, one of the main draws at Moltens is the ‘hot rock’ cooking system. It’s an interactive way of cooking your own food, to your own liking, right at your own table. Volcanic rocks are super heated to around 440°c which, let me tell you, is very, very hot! From the menu you can choose one of a few different choices for your main, including meat, seafood and vegetables. There is a small supplement on top of the set menu price if you choose one of these (steak £6, pork £3, prawns £3).
When the main courses arrive at the table it’s a little piece of theatre, with the steak (which I chose) literally cooking before your eyes, sizzling atop a dark grey piece of rock. It comes to the table medium rare and then you decide how long to cook it, turn it over, take it off, you’re in control. The mains come with either chips or mash and lovely chilli baked beans. Now, I like my steak medium well, so it took about another 5-7 minutes cooking and then it was just perfect. One major warning, do not touch the volcanic rocks, however high you think your pain threshold is – I dropped a bean on the rock and it pretty much disintegrated!
I have to say I thought the ‘hot rock’ cooking was going to be a bit of a gimmick but actually I loved it. I loved geting my steak just how I wanted it and it was pretty dramatic as it arrived at the table. You don’t have to ‘cook your own’ there are other ‘normal’ main courses available to order...I saw a very nice looking fish and chips go past our table!
We did have room for dessert and this is where the menu did let us down a little with only three choices; summer berry meringue, cheese and biscuits or a selection of ice cream. Now I know it is a set menu so the choice was never going to be huge, but I would have liked to have seen a few more choices, maybe a chocolate option or something a bit more filling like a cheesecake or a fruit pie. We did have the meringue which was very tasty and the cheese selection was very good.
The overall feeling I got after visiting Moltens is how happy I would be if I was staying at the hotel. But equally I think it’s a great place to go just for a meal out, either with a group of friends or for a romantic meal for two. The ‘hot rock’ cooking is a bit of a novelty but actually it does serve a good purpose, letting you get your food exactly the way you want it, which in my book makes for a very good dining experience.
Free parking available at the hotel for all customers
Large alfresco dining terrace area is available just off the restaurant.
88 bedrooms available all with satellite TV, air-conditioning, hairdryer and tea and coffee making facilities. Five conference rooms with the largest having a maximum capacity for 100 delegates.