The manor house, as might be suspected, aims for a traditional charm. While the spa by all accounts is very modern having only recently been built, the hotel looks to bathe its guests in tranquillity. The dining room in keeping with this is traditional and with large window doors leading into the garden, the room is light and airy, especially today with the doors open.
The menu like the venue is traditional but fairly extensive (a choice of seven starters) and seasonal. At £53 for three courses, it is broadly what you might expect for a starred manor house.
For starters, we chose Assiette of Pork, apple celeraic salad together with Loch Duart Salmon, confit, Jersey Royals, English asparagus, aioli. The pork plate contained a head croquette, pork belly and ham hock. The flavours were there, the cooking about right though it was perhaps a touch overdressed with greens. The salmon was cooked well, the quail egg a little runny in the middle and the tomatoes giving full flavours.
The question that both the starters raised that stayed as our issue of debate following the meal: is this just too traditional? Where does the wow factor come from and (beloved of GBM judges all season), what's innovative about this? Admittedly, we lean towards contemporary food as a preference over traditional. What's more, the hotel probably accommodates an older rather than a younger crowd, but this still seemed to us like it was being played it too safe.
There were some good things going on here including the home made bread, the salmon itself and the chocolate delice. Other elements were however more average in our view. We would have liked to have seen some more contemporary touches throughout the meal to achieve an overall sense of something a little more special. With such traditional cooking, because the idea doesn't offer the wow factor, the cooking has to be spot on to make it memorable; this meal didn't complete that journey.
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