We booked a table here for 8:00 p.m. and arrived promptly. The place looked nice, an extended country house with a sweeping driveway. We parked and entered the lobby. The receptionist come bar person come maître d’ showed us into the drawing-room which was packed with people. We sat on a couch opposite another couple who were either on a blind date or thrown together by a common interest in the horse business. We were offered drinks which we declined saying we would stick to wine. We were promptly abandoned for almost thirty minutes. We had to endure this time without drink or sustenance and we were bombarded with details of horse breeding, foaling and all the attendant details. I should point out that there was plenty of space in the dining room.
We were supplied with menus while we waited. When the multitasking receptionist returned I asked about the duck dish that was on the menu. ‘How is it done? How is it served?’ I asked. She seemed flummoxed and finally offered ‘with a red sauce’. I can name half a dozen ‘red’ sauces so this wasn’t a bit helpful. Some staff training would be a wise investment.
I ordered the black pudding and pork belly starter and himself ordered a cold platter with smoked beef, salamis, venison and ham. For main course I went for the boring option of a steak and Mr W chose the braised hereford feather blade of beef. We struggled with the red wine list. Neither of us are big fans of Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon which featured heavily in the first (cheaper) section of the wine list. Rioja wouldn’t be a favourite either but we settled on one as the cheapest Fleurie was ridiculously expensive at €39.00 and I didn’t dare look at the cost of a Pinot Noir. We didn’t notice any Côte du Rhones on the list.
Finally we were shown to our table. There was a choice of one near the fireplace or one by the window. Unfortunately the window table overlooked the car park so we chose the table by the wall. (It struck me as odd that the car park wasn’t screened off in some way). We were brought some bread, water and our wine. Our server poured the wine into my glass – we weren’t asked to taste (it wasn’t House Wine) – and overfilled it. Ditto with hubby’s glass. How can staff be let loose in the dining room without basic training in wine service?
The starters were very really good. The black pudding was top quality and I loved the celeriac coleslaw. The pork belly was beautifully cooked and full of flavour. I tasted some of the charcuterie and enjoyed it. The venison was tasty and the smoked roast beef was nice in an unusual way. Things were beginning to look up if these starters were anything to go by.
Alas! Hope springs eternal and all that… things went rapidly downhill for me. The steak arrived and it looked like it was served by a grumpy sixth glass girl in a snot with the world. It was poorly trimmed and badly presented. And worse, when I went to eat it, it was warm. Despite all this the steak tasted fine. But there were only five people in the dining room so it wasn’t like the kitchen staff were under pressure. The mash below the steak was also cold. The selection of vegetables was absolutely uninspired. Carrot and parsnip mash and broccoli. Lord above! I have these vegetables every other day at home so I don’t want them when I go out.
Devils for punishment, we ordered dessert. Strawberries and cream were on the menu and I asked if I could have strawberries and vanilla ice cream instead. No problem, I was told. Himself ordered the rhubarb crumble. Desserts arrived and I was appalled by what I was served. Cream with sliced strawberries on top (about four strawberries in total), an upturned muffin and a single ball of ice cream which was glazed over because it had probably been scooped out and refrozen. How can an order for strawberries and ice cream (and no cream) get so mixed up? It was utterly disappointing. At least hubby was happy with his crumble and when I tasted it I could see why. It was delicious. There is someone in the kitchen who knows a thing or two but there is also a saboteur at work and I was his victim on this occasion.
We finished our meal with weak espressos and left. On the basis of my experience on a Saturday night in June I could not recommend this restaurant.