After the last few of my reviews have necessarily been negative, how nice to get back on a positive footing.
The restaurant is nicely situated next to the gardens but unfortunately the weather was extremely inclement and so we could not enjoy them. The welcome was warm and we sat in the cosy bar area for drinks as we reviewed the menus. The staff were all charming and knowledgeable and attentive to just the right degree.
The dining room is pleasant without being over fussy with good sized tables with plenty of room between. We were served an amuse bouche (or canapé as they preferred to call them) which was a cod roe mousse with fennel - very nice. I chose the daily menu and my wife the windfall menu although she didn't fancy the sorbet dessert and changed it to the crumble. We were offered a choice of walnut bread and sourdough and being a bit cheeky I asked for both. My wife said "It's his birthday today so you'd better humour him" and they did. Both were superb, but the walnut especially so.
I had the quail to start - two breast fillets and a spring roll filled with the darker meat and a grape chutney. It was delicious. My wife had mussels in a cider and cream sauce - a large portion for a starter but also pronounced delicious. My main was the haunch of venison, cooked perfectly medium rare as requested accompanied by a venison sausage, a mild curry sauce and another red sauce which was apparently sloe gin. My wife had the pork belly with bubble and squeak, once again delicious although a slight criticism in the the crackling wasn't particularly crackly. All this washed down with the red wine of the month, a Chianti, nice and smooth and fruity and good value at £33.
When my crumble arrived I was surprised to see they had written Happy Birthday on the plate which I thought was a thoughtful touch (see photo). Plum and pear crumble was very good as was the damson ice cream. My espresso was a bit cooler than I would have liked but I do like my coffee hotter than most people - it was served with a still warm macaroons and chocolates. Flavour was fine though.
Excellent and delicious throughout at a price you'd probably pay at your local pub.
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