Charming country house surrounded by Rutland Water providing a lakeside setting and modern food that really works
This was a lovely meal, in more ways than one and I have an immediate electric current when thinking of the food on this visit. The Victorian country house itself has a wonderfully presented, log-fired lounge and the hospitality was right on the button throughout. A miscellaneous plus point was the electric car charger the hotel had in their car park which turned out to be pretty useful for the electric car I was lent to test drive for the weekend so this was a complete bonus! However, it was the food that did the talking here, served in a professional manner in an old fashioned dining room.
After some tailored canapés for each guest (to accommodate intolerances) in the lounge, the tasting menu was opted for, starting with an absolutely knock out Jerusalem artichoke velouté. This was nothing but sexy and superbly judged creaminess with a touch of crunch for texture. The heritage carrots were originally presented and the spiced carrot ice cream was a beautiful touch – gorgeous flavour, fun and another belter of a dish. Although I found the foie gras a little dense, the foie gras ice cream was another innovative and highly pleasurable addition that helped to cut through the weightiness of the ballotine with some well-pitched sweetness from the supporting fruit pieces.
The mullet was fine, not on the same volcanic level of the first dishes but I did think the venison was perfectly succulent, and a real masterclass of supporting jus, creamed celeriac and chocolate ‘flowers’ that were thin, malleable and actually complimented the venison exceedingly well. Finally, a perfectly well-done blackberry soufflé finished off the meal very well by being light and most importantly, not too sweet.
This was a quality meal here, no question and although the price tag of £92 for the 6-course tasting menu is definitely steeper than most 1 Michelin starred tasting menu prices, I put this down to the setting either being able to charge this or the overheads being greater as a result of the setting – probably a smidgen of both. Whilst I’m on that, I would also say this is definitely a couples or intimate venue as the space in the restaurant is quite snug and formal in its look at the same time. The shame of only being able to come at night is that I obviously couldn’t gain a proper look at the grounds in their glory within daylight however, I have no doubt the views are extremely good.
So quite a formal place, that is thankfully softened by the genuinely welcoming service but crucially, one that serves very good Michelin starred food. The lucky thing for me for this visit was what a truly lovely and nostalgic occasion it was, above the pleasing touches that Hambleton Hall delivers.
Food Grade: 81%