This restaurant has a tiny dining room with three main tables in little alcoves and a few more in an attached room. It is a little jewel box of a restaurant, with elaborate and attractive decor. The menu is classical in nature and appealing – no ants or weird foraged herbs trouble the diner here, and desserts are mercifully free of shrubbery. William Drabble is a chef who can be found in his kitchen rather than on TV or marketing his latest cookbook.
Three courses cost £69 or alternatively there was a tasting menu at £85. The wine list was extensive and covered France in depth, but also had plenty of choice from further afield. Sample labels were Domaine Lupin Frangy 2013 at £42 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £14, Albert Mann Schossbery Riesling 2014 at £95 compared to its retail price of £36, or Etienne Sauzet Puligny Montrachet 2013 at £141 for a wine that will set you back £47 in a shop.
Breads were made from scratch in the kitchen and were excellent, especially a lovely walnut and raisin loaf and also rosemary bread (16/20). An amuse-bouche of smoked chicken broth with celeriac was pleasant if not especially exciting (14/20). Better was scallop carpaccio with Jerusalem artichokes and truffle vinaigrette, the combination of earthy flavours with the seafood working well (15/20). Also good was ravioli of native lobster with cauliflower puree and lobster butter sauce, the pasta delicate and the lobster tender (15/20).
Sea bass was cooked on the griddle and served with wild mushrooms, parsley puree and braised Jerusalem artichokes, along with a red wine and port jus. The fish was carefully cooked and the vegetables were excellent (15/20). Venison with red cabbage was lovely, the meat having excellent flavour and the braised red cabbage with juniper jus was complemented by smooth celeriac puree (16/20).
Pre-dessert was passion fruit jelly with caramelised almonds and cream cheese ice cream, the fruit bring a touch of acidity to balance the ice cream (15/20). Tarte tatin was a fine example of the breed, with excellent pastry and apples that were not over caramelised, served with very good vanilla ice cream and toffee apple sauce (16/20). Also good was a pretty dish of clementine jelly with a dome of milk chocolate mousse flavoured with gingerbread spices, along with salted caramel ice cream (15/20).
Coffee was Lavazzo, a pretty ordinary coffee, but a much superior Hawaiian Kona coffee was also available, albeit at a significant premium. Service was excellent, with a knowledgeable and helpful sommelier. The bill came to £150 a head. A more typical cost per head, assuming modest wine, might be £110. This is of course hardly cheap, but ingredient quality is good and there is plenty of technical skill on display. Overall this was a very enjoyable meal: the menu was appealing, the technical execution consistently good, the room cosy and the service welcoming. This is a restaurant that appears invisible to social media yet it should get broader recognition in my view.
Further reviews: 08th Dec 2012