We were greeted by, Oliver, who lead us through the hotel reception to The Brasserie. The restaurant was really spacious, and had a laid back, family friendly atmosphere. At one end of the brasserie was a bar, and at the other was an open kitchen – it was great to be able to see the food being prepared and hear the hustle and bustle of the chefs.
They utilised the space well – you could have a conversation at normal volume without feeling like other people could hear your conversation, and it felt really private for the size of the room.
While perusing the menu, our server brought an amuse bouche of quail on a bed of rhubarb, with fresh bread – the special the head chef told us he was preparing earlier. The dark meat of the quail was beautifully cooked with a crispy outer skin, and perfectly tender pink meat underneath. Though teamed with rhubarb, the delicate flavour of the quail still shone through, and the rhubarb gave a good bite.
As our server cleared our plates away, I decided on the confit of duck, pickled vegetables, crisp skin and salad leaves, followed by halibut, spiced cauliflower puree and spinach. My dining partner chose soup of the day (spiced carrot), followed by roasted venison, venison pudding and dates, both mains recommended by the head chef.
My confit was beautifully presented, with ribboned buds of pickled vegetable, duck skin and segments of mandarin adorning the perfectly symmetrical parcel. The duck was cooked and seasoned to perfection and the mandarin cut through the salty flavour of the duck wonderfully.
We were not disappointed with the soup – light and smooth, with a little peppery kick, this had zingy undertones and a creamy consistency – the perfect warming start to an evening meal.
Next we were offered a palette cleanser. The combination of raspberry foam and freeze-dried chopped raspberries was a delight to the senses, only magnified by the cheeky addition of popping candy!
I was very impressed with the halibut, it had a very meaty but moist texture and a mild, sweet flavour. The cauliflower puree was really sweet with a subtle spice – it had a lovely strong smoky flavor. A side of vegetables of the day went down well – you know how home grown vegetables taste just that much better than shop bought ones?
The portion sizes were incredibly generous, and the venison main course was cooked to absolute perfection, lovely and pink in the middle. The meat was lean with a strong gamey taste, and warm spicy undertones.
The accompanying dates complemented the meat extremely well, offering sweet and sticky flavours. The venison pudding was delightfully rich, the meat sweet and oh-so tender, encased in a suet pastry which was full of flavour, and a brilliant way to display the versatility of the meat.
My partner chose the chocolate mousse, chocolate crumb, milk sorbet and milk gel dessert, which came with crispy honeycomb. The mousse was rich and smooth, but not heavy. The chocolate crumb had almost a savoury, bitter flavour, reminiscent of coffee or dark chocolate, and really helped to stop the dish from becoming overpoweringly sweet.
I settled on poached pear, honey, almond and vanilla sponge with yoghurt and was not disappointed. The sweetness was complemented with delicate spices that felt comforting and familiar. The cake was light and fluffy, with a really strong, sweet flavour, which when teamed with the yoghurt sorbet was a delight!
The passion the team have for their food becomes more than apparent in the little touches – the exciting and exotic combination of flavours, the playful presentation of the foods, and the sheer attention to detail. The plating was perfect, a meal for the eyes in itself, portion size spot on, and staff attentive, friendly and welcoming. A must-visit for all foodies, whether you want a decadent evening meal in The Brasserie, afternoon tea or even a private dining experience.