Pulpit House, 1 The Square, Abingdon OX14 5SZ
Tel: 01235 529699
Ask is new here in Abingdon, opening its doors at the beginning of September.
The building itself is fantastic, with wrought-iron pillars and balustrades to the (unused) first floor, and a large terrace area to the front. The building has stood empty for a very long time, so at least it’s good to see it being used.
As you can imagine, Ask is a novelty in town at the moment, so it’s always pretty busy - however we didn’t have a problem getting a table for 4 on Sunday evening. The design of the building means it’s pretty loud, but not too loud for conversation.
However - while the architecture and ambience are great, the food leaves quite a lot to be desired.
The starters were OK - I ordered the mussels and Gerry the stuffed mushrooms. I found the mushrooms nondescript and the mussels, while tasty, were overpowered by the tomato sauce.
The main course - chicken & prawns with butter beans - was again totally overpowered by tomato, and I’d venture a guess that the base sauce was exactly the same as that used for the mussels. Gerry’s Penne with Gorgonzola was claggy (I’d guess that the pasta may even have been reheated) and, surprisingly, lacked any sort of cheese flavour.
We asked the waiter about it and he mentioned that they’d changed the recipe after someone had complained that the dish was 'too cheesy’, which strikes me as odd. Surely if you order a Gorgonzola dish, you’re going to expect it to taste predominantly of the cheese?
A cheesecake for dessert was reasonably good, and the whole meal was reasonably priced, working out at about £35 per head for four of us including wine and coffee.
So overall, Ask Abingdon is Yet Another Generic Italian Restaurant in a town already saturated with Italian food, offering nothing spectacular or memorable about it.
If you want good quality Italian food, I would suggest walking a few yards along the street and going to Limoncello, which is smaller but is, at least, a genuine Italian family restaurant.