Coworth Park

London Road, Ascot, England, SL5 7SE, United Kingdom

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Coworth Park near Ascot has 240 acres of grounds, including parkland and even a polo field, with the hotel having around seventy rooms. The house was originally built in 1776 for a tea merchant who made his fortune at the East India Company. The hotel is named after a nearby hamlet, and opened in its current form in 2010. There are two restaurants in the hotel, a casual bistro called The Barn and the flagship restaurant, which has recently been rebranded as “Woven”. Executive chef of Woven, Adam Smith, worked at The Ritz for almost a decade before leading the kitchen at The Devonshire Arms Hotel in Yorkshire. Adam won the Roux Scholarship in 2012 and took over the kitchen at Coworth Park in 2016.

The dining room looks a lot more modern after a recent refurbishment, with a very attractive conservatory available as a private dining room. I have written about the wine list in a previous review. The a la carte dinner menu was priced at £145, with wine pairing at £95. At lunch the menu was £80 with wine pairing at £65.

Tonight, we had a pre-arranged tasting menu that began with an extensive selection of canapes. Caviar tartlet had oscietra caviar from the supplier Kings caviar; the pastry had excellent texture and the caviar was good quality. Morsels of coronation chicken were served on a skewer, the chicken flavoured with a gentle hint of curry. A tartlet of A5 Highland wagyu beef was flavoured with XO sauce, the beef having plenty of flavour and the XO sauce with it being a good foil to the richness of the beef. Dorset oyster came with kohlrabi and a fig leaf vinaigrette, the latter providing some useful acidity to cut through the oyster’s richness. Tomato espuma and prawn featured top notch red prawns from Sicily and was perhaps the best canape, mainly due to the terrific quality of the prawn. Jellied Devon eel was a more refined take on the east London dish, the eel having good flavour and topped with parsley oil. The least successful canape was avocado mousse with quince and basil, flavoured with yuzu, with for me the basil a little dominant. Otherwise, though, these were classy canapes (17/20).

It is worth noting that the breads are all made from scratch here in the kitchen. These included a very good croissant and a top-notch sourdough, and fluffy Parker House lacquered rolls. Hand-dived scallop was combined with Jerusalem artichoke, Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee and calamansi. This was an unusual and successful flavour combination, the natural sweetness of the scallop balanced by the coffee and the sharpness of the kalamansi (16/20).

English asparagus from the Wye Valley was served with almonds, oil of Iberico ham and hollandaise. This was a simple and enjoyable dish, the asparagus carefully cooked and the hint of pork flavour enlivening the flavour of the asparagus (15/20). Although it is nice, I remain unconvinced that English asparagus compares well to the very best asparagus from France, especially from Vaucluse from suppliers such as Robert Blanc. A stuffed morel dish with lovage foam was a bonus dish and actually did not show especially well. Whether the best of the morel season was gone, the morels just didn’t have great flavour, and I adore morels. The dish was technically well made but for me the morel itself was just not great, and the lovage was too dominant a flavour (13/20).

Next was Cornish turbot with lobster mousseline, truffle and new season peas. This dish, “turbot jubilee”, is the dish that Adam cooked when he won the Roux Scholarship in 2012. The whole turbot, this a very large 9kg specimen, was braised and served with a light lobster mousseline, topped with a scallop and caviar, asparagus tips and artichoke bottoms, all resting in a champagne sauce. This was a dazzling dish, the turbot having lovely flavour and being precisely cooked, the lobster mousseline airily light, the asparagus and artichokes bringing some balance to the richness and the champagne sauce lifting the flavour. The components were very harmonious and the dish demonstrated very skilled kitchen technique (19/20). Spring lamb came with pine nuts, kohlrabi and mint. The lamb was cooked pink and had good flavour, the kohlrabi balancing the meat well and the pine nuts providing an extra texture. This was a very well-made dish, but the turbot was a tough act to follow (16/20).

A very prettily presented chocolate dessert had components flavoured with sea salt, crème fraiche and coca nibs, and was rich and lovely, the crème fraiche bringing some lightness to the dish (17/20). Petit fours comprised a lovely woven palmier biscuit, gariguette strawberry “sandwich”, milk chocolate and whiskey caramel and macadamia nut flavoured with verjus. These were excellent petit fours.

Service was charming throughout the evening. This was a birthday celebration that I had been invited to and so I didn’t see the bill, which was probably a good thing given the lovely wines that we were served. Coworth Park is an impressive restaurant that thoroughly deserves its Michelin star. Ingredients are high quality and the kitchen technique is of a high standard. This meal showed that the restaurant is capable of producing some really top-notch food, with the turbot dish being a memorable highlight.

Further reviews: 25th Jun 2022 | 24th Jul 2021 | 27th Jul 2019 | 16th Nov 2016 | 31st Aug 2013 | 12th Nov 2011

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