Our visit there was brief, stopping only for dinner, but both the property and grounds looked magnificent and the staff we encountered were polite and attentive. For the past four years, the fine dining restaurant there has been run by Adam Simmonds who prior to that had spent three years working at Le Manoir as well as time with Marco Pierre White before that.
In January 2011, after much disappointment in previous years, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star.
The restaurant itself is a small affair seating around 30 covers while the room is one of light wood panelling and mirrors. Tables are sizeable giving you plenty of space and the chairs are luxuriously upholstered. Sadly though, on our visit, it was also empty and for most of the time we were there, we were the only diners. Understandably then, the place lacked atmosphere though we suspect that the dining room struggles with that anyhow.
We decided to forgo the tasting menu as the running order of the savouries here was scallop, foie gras, brill, venison. We certainly can't criticise them for that but it just appeared too close to the tasting menu of its peers leaving us the desire to try something a little different just by way of variety. We are also told by the staff that Adam predominantly likes to slow cook food sous vide so we should expect food to be warm rather than piping hot.
We started the meal with a great little palate cleanser in the form of a gin and tonic granita, gin and tonic foam and lime jelly with juniper on top. Or perhaps it was a lime foam and a gin and tonic jelly. Either way, this was a playful start and an original twist on the 'cocktail plate' that worked well, with the gin flavours plainly evident. After that, an amuse bouche of watercress soup and quails egg was spot on suggesting we might be on for a special meal.
Now, on the menu, the courses are listed by their principal ingredient so at a glance, the menu reads Brill, Venison, Lobster, Partridge, Seabass. Accordingly, it was quite disappointing to find that the dish contained really quite a small portion of lobster rendering it out of balance with the plentiful portion of sweatbreads; the dish rightly should have been called 'Sweatbreads' not 'Lobster'. The truffle here came in reasonable quantity, and was discernible to taste but still a little shy. One you move to eat the food, first impressions are favourable but it then grew a little tired over time so that by the end, it seemed significantly less interesting. Some tweaking around plating, textures and a little something to lift the dish could improve it significantly in our view.
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