1 Michelin starred restaurant set within the gorgeous 5* hotel Lucknam Park - a beautiful dining room with equally refined food
Although Lucknam Park sits in Wiltshire, the estate is just over 6 miles from Bath, set in the lovely landscape of Colerne. The Park is the main dining room of Lucknam Park Hotel and its elegant interior is as charming as the service. The restaurant and its food is stylish whilst not too OTT, making it a wonderful place to be for any treats or celebration contexts, particularly if one stayed over which, would frankly be a sin not to do if one was going to enjoy the food here. The stay would also facilitate a light lunch or snacks options in The Brasserie, which is also a no brainer on any visit.
Although I did not sample all the dishes shown, one could tell just from the delicately done foie gras parfait cigars, fried haddock spheres and parmesan and ham crisp canapés that you are in the hands of chefs who know how to please. A full, detailed review on the food is below the photos, but stand out moments of the meal were the honey comb on pan-fried foie gras, the truffle butter sauce accompanying the turbot and the salted caramel chocolate bar – all these were sublime. Overall, I thought the food here was precise, carefully prepared and most importantly, included some marvellous flavours – it was basically all good and lovely to not have to worry about a thing when the cooking is this reassuring.
For most, I believe the restaurant is the side-effect or bonus of the real purpose which is to stay at this stunning hotel, and for food lovers, apart from slightly small portion sizes and some low quantites of sauces, I do not believe they will be dissapointed with the impact of the dishes at The Park in any way. As a hotel, it is a truly lovely place to visit for a multitude of reasons and I look forward to any future excuse to do so again.
The canapés prior to dinner were small in quantity and size but packed a punch in flavour. The foie gras ‘cigars’ were never going to be in danger of not pleasing and the lightness of the crisp surrounding the foie gras parfait was just wonderful. The haddock spheres with potato were subtle and the parmesan crisps had a depth of ham and cheese that made one want more immediately. These were essentially hoovered up within 90 seconds and was a very good start.
After a very pleasant (albeit small) shot glass amuse bouche, the foie gras 2-ways starter was, on first glance tiny! No, my eyes weren’t deceiving me, they really were that sized, as opposed to the virtual side dish plate sized pan-fried foie gras at the Waterside Inn (which, I do happen to think is too big, but a little more here surely would have been ok?). However, the brioche was absolutely beautifully warmed and presented and as I managed to break the portions of foie gras and brioche in to approximately 10 mini-sized portions, I could see the chef’s point, in that a lot more might fill the diner up far too quickly and be a mistake. After a few negotiations with the sommelier, I was handed a dessert wine from Italy that was like a French sauternes in terms of its sweet-honey quality but slightly toned down which perfect, as even I, with a sweet tooth appreciated this change.
The turbot with hand-rolled macaroni was utterly fresh and tender and the truffled butter sauce was an absolute winner – not too pungent, but creamy and with the perfect hint of truffle. This was a sure, fire hit and after asking for some more sauce this was duly given in a large side-boat – perhaps the chef agreed with me(?). It was too good to be put that sparingly on the plate. The white chocolate coated lemon sorbet in a shot glass was a refreshing mouth cleanser after the savouries.
Finally, the caramalised pear and sauternes ice cream with supporting Stellenbosch dessert wine from South Africa was a marriage made on Mount Olympus. All aspects of the dessert were mouth-watering and I honestly could have had another. Maybe it was because I had gone to the gym in the afternoon or expended further energy with my heart racing over the England v France final 6 nations game, but I still can’t tell whether the portion sizes were really quite small as I was genuinely not full at the end. I give full credit to the chef for not making the dining experience leave one as per Mr Creosote in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life, but I did feel the portions sizes left a hint in the air of being short-changed slightly.
However, in terms of impact, the food was on the ball and frankly there wasn’t a thing I didn’t like and the sommelier’s choices of whites and reds were all bang on as well. This is a very good level of consistency, served in a stylish way and I left with the feeling of happy confidence that I could return here for supper at any time and have absolutely no concerns whatsoever – this is a good record to have and I will be more than happy to try many more in the future.
A final word is worthy of the Louis XIII cognac. There it was again, in that all too familiar, light-show glass presentation box, sat there like an unobtainable prize. I’m not actually a huge cognac or armagnac fan, however, it’s the best, and I have seen it numerous places (in Dubai, other nice places in the UK and Asia) and on this special occasion I thought, “No, I want to try this now” to find out the score. I can now confirm the following: the reason it is £50 per 10ml (barely a few sips) is that 80% of it is over 100 years old and has spent most of its life in a fresh oak barrel, never used for anything other than its own development. Viewed by many as ‘the king’ of cognacs, I could sense a deeper smell when sniffing and the hints of chocolate, caramel, coffee and marmalade all came at different times, rather like a Château d’Yquem does with its many layers of scents and tastes. The taste of the Louis XIII was potent and rich but in truth, if I was blind folded, I would not be able to tell the difference between that and other, old cognacs.
So there we go, the best cognac on planet earth is probably better on the nose than it is in the mouth, is very deep with numerous levels of smell and flavours, but all in all, you need to be in love with cognac to bother with this pursuit of luxury, even if the establishment barely breaks even on the bottle (and in some cases loses money on each serving). Still, splendid as always to get another box ticked in the ‘do the best in the world’ life bucket list as I now know and don’t need to worry anymore. Done… as was I, at the end of a long and splendid meal over a lovely and special occasion.
Food Grade: 81%
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