20 May 2019

Restaurant Review: The Odyssey, Holiday Inn, Winchester

Review of The Odyssey at Holiday Inn Winchester

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to enjoy dinner at the newly built bar & pizzeria The Odyssey at Holiday Inn Winchester. It's no secret that I love food and wine, so a night of trying out their new menu got me very excited. I haven't heard or seen much from The Odyssey Winchester at this point, so I really wasn't sure what to expect - except that I knew of Holiday Inn being a chain hotel known for it's affordable price point.

We visit Holiday Inn Winchester which is located on the outskirts of the city next to The Science Centre and a butterfly nature reserve - the area is quiet and peaceful, although close to several relatively busy roads. Walking in to The Odyssey we are greeted by a big open space with modern design which has a slight nod to history and heritage - all centred around it's location: from country chic beans and wine racks, to telescopes and cosmic fittings the interiors combines it's heritage Hampshire location with the close location the one of Winchesters attractions - The Science Centre.

We were greeted by a friendly team, taken around the bistro, casual seating area, and bar to get familiar with our surroundings, and then seated in the restaurant area which is the quieter part of the venue.

Dining room interior at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester
Hampshire Blogger Lana from Dalry Rose enjoying dinner at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester
Pork scratchings and apple sauce served at Holiday Inn Winchester

After having a peek at the menu which was concise yet varied, we decided on our meals. For me there were plenty of options which sounded intriguing - many traditional recipes with a twist, or simply made well from local ingredients (I recognised our nearest butchers Owtons on the steak menu!). You can choose from nibbles to go with a couple of drinks at the bar, starters and light bites, traditional meat and vegetarian dishes, and their pizzeria options.

Pork scratchings and apple sauce served at Holiday Inn Winchester
Calamari served at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester
Calamari served at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester
Hampshire blogger Lana from Dalry Rose enjoying dinner at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester

We went for pork scratchings with apple puree, baked camembert with pear and ginger chutney and toasted local sourdough, and salt & pepper squid with mango and pineapple salsa, and mango gel.
The plates were big enough to fill up your belly yet also left you wanting more - not much more, I didn't intend to roll back to my car after the meal! The pork scratchings were crunchy and full of flavour and paired perfectly with the apple puree. I always think you can end up two ways with pork scratchings: either they're delicious, or they're dry and bland. These were a winner!

The camembert was hot and gooey, with hints of garlic and rosemary. There was plenty for us two to share - I always think it's nice to share food even at restaurants as you taste more throughout the evening. The bread was nice and soft in the middle too - I have this thing about hard bread, I genuinely opt out of anything that has a ciabatta not because I don't like it (I love good ciabatta!) but it hurts my mouth so I prefer soft bread with a slight toast on the outside. This sourdough bread was perfect for me.

But the real star of the starters was the squid: full of flavour, cooked perfectly, and accompanied by a mango salsa which has inspired me to try new flavours at home. Presented beautifully, the salt and pepper squid was soft and melted in your mouth. The mango salsa also came with a sort of mango caviar which was a fun addition to the plate and to the palate!

Baked camembert with homemade bread and chutney at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester
Baked camembert with homemade bread and chutney at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester
Baked camembert at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester
Crayfish and lime pizza served at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester
Crayfish and lime pizza served at The Odyssey Bar & Pizzeria in Holiday Inn Winchester
Crayfish and lime pizza served at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester

When it came to mains, we simply had to choose a pizza. You can't come to a pizzeria and not try one, right?! So we chose the Garlic Butter, Crayfish, Rocket & Fresh Lime pizza - both mum and I love seafood and I have never tried a crayfish and lime pizza before so my interest peaked.

The pizza was light and fluffy in dough, had an ideal amount of topping to dough ratio (I'm a seasoned pizza eater right, I know what I'm talking about!) and the flavours combined beautifully. It was a really light and refreshing pizza, perfect on a sunny day with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Depending on how hungry you are, you could share a pizza between two with a side of nibbles - alternatively you can also take the rest of your pizza home which is what we did because we couldn't manage it all!

Hampshire butchers steak at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester
Hampshire butchers steak at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester
Hampshire butchers steak at The Odyssey in Holiday Inn Winchester

We also ordered the pan-fried Owtons of Hampshire 8oz Rib Eye Steak with tomato, flat mushroom, chips and a tomato and red onion salad. Owtons supply our closest butcher so it was nice to see a familiar Hampshire supplier on the menu. I always look for locally grown food in restaurants - it feels good to eat food grown on your doorstep, and also supply local small businesses. The plate was full of exciting additions like chips, salad, and vegetables - and let's not forget the peppercorn sauce which was fantastic! I'd go as far as even saying it's one of the tastiest I've had - because it wasn't too creamy and packed a punch.

My only criticism as this stage would be is that I like my steak rare - I'm talking blue if it's amazing quality beef. In France I survived on steak tartar. So when I know the meat is provided by a trusted local butcher, I can confidently ask for my steak to be rare - the waitress took the order, however my steak was slightly more on the medium/well done side. It was still delicious and melted in my mouth because the quality of the beef was top notch - but I have to be honest with you guys, to me such a delicious cut of meat you can certainly do rare.

Enjoying a chocolate and caramel dessert at The Odyssey Holiday Inn Winchester
Enjoying a chocolate and caramel dessert at The Odyssey Holiday Inn Winchester
Enjoying a chocolate and caramel dessert at The Odyssey Holiday Inn Winchester

Although we totally filled up on the savoury meals, there is always room to split a cheeky chocolate dessert between two - especially if the dessert is a chocolate and salted caramel delice with chocolate crackling and honeycomb ice cream... We also ordered a trio or sorbets: basil and lime; ginger; and mango to cleanse the palette. I have to say the dessert was amazing - I enjoyed every single element on that plate and actually would go back to The Odyssey just to enjoy it again. It was worth the calories! I also loved the lime and basil sorbet which was unusual and refreshing - perfect end to a meal.

I was very pleasantly surprised with The Odyssey at Holiday Inn Winchester - these guys have done a fantastic job at making the place welcoming and stylish; and I really enjoyed all the food we had - especially the pizza and dessert! I will be coming back again and if I have friends or relatives staying in the area I would recommend the hotel to them which is turning out to be quite an exciting complex.

Find out more about The Odyssey at Holiday Inn Winchester - visit their website: The Odyssey at Holiday Inn Winchester

*The food and drink featured in this post was complimentary for review purposes from The Odyssey at Holiday Inn Winchester. All views are my own.
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