Main restaurant of the delightful Fish Hotel from Martin Burge
Fish is the primary dining room restaurant of Hook Hotel which sits in the glorious Cotswolds Estate of Farncombe. It is sister to both Dormy House and Foxhill Manor which are all impressive, Hook itself having ‘tiny houses’ and luxury treehouses. What brought me here was that Martin Burge (who held two Michelin stars at Whatley Manor for many) took over the overseeing eye at Hook after his departure from Whatley Manor. Sadly, on the night of my meal, he most certainly was not there as I don’t believe he would ever have allowed some of the items that came to our table to have even left the kitchen and I was most disappointed. It was a shame as the actual hotel and its facilities (less no aircon in the huts) is a delightful place.
After arriving in the afternoon and enjoying their mini burger menu in the Hook’s beautiful lounge, benefitting from the Luxury Restaurant Guide Offer of a drink (well worth a look if you dine frequently). Later, we had our main meal at Hook. Bread was brought in from Fine Foods in Broadway and the sourdough was served with seaweed butter. The bread was actually extremely hard to pull crust apart and whilst not stale, it had clearly been out for a while.
Mackerel was ok with fennel dill and creme fraiche but there were far too many bones for comfort and a little dry as good quality mackerel goes. The octopus was actually good quality but the sauce was like a lake of salt in the olive and sausage broth. It was essentially far too salty and without much other flavour. The steak tartare was bizarrely white in colour, tasteless and I could not gain an actual answer from the staff of whether it was lightly cooked or from veal.
The cheese soufflé was quite dense and the surrounding area ended up being a moat of oil and melted butter which was not very pleasant to look at or appetising. This was not exactly the sort of cheese souffle you can find at either Gavroche or Martin Wishart. Liver parfait was good but the sense of port overwhelming, the cold pastry case was too thick to enjoy, and ultimately too busy and simply put, this was not a refined dish. The blackberry ice cream dessert was fine.
Overall however, I was disappointed with the meal especially when I was looking forward to seeing Martin Burge’s new, casual concept menu. Neither Martin nor the Head chef was in on my evening leaving a team of two junior chefs to look after a packed restaurant. Whatever the reasons for this, it was evident the floor staff and whole team were overstretched and not well-rehearsed and I was sadly unimpressed with the dishes. I can’t reset the clock and have the same dishes again and I won’t know how different they would be if the two key chefs were in, but sadly based on this experience, I have no alternative but to give this one of the lowest grades I have given in quite a while. It is a great shame as the hotel is a novel concept (I would however recommend a tiny house as close to the main hotel however in case of poor weather – if it was raining, you are basically walking through a forest to get to dinner).
Food Grade: 49%