The Chewton Glen Hotel has a fabulous bar and restaurant and our Lord and Lady reviewed it for International eXcellence whilst staying at the hotel and Spa.
Lady: As you go through the foyer entrance, past the old staircase to the rooms and the grand piano, the restaurant stretches out along the windows over two rooms overlooking the gardens. Country house comfort and style. But first the bar for a quick refreshment.
Lord: The Bar is old style decor, think Gentlemen's club with leather sofas and comfort a priority, the service impeccable and the cocktails mixed to offer the very best in flavours. I had a non-alcoholic one to start, the New Forest, a berry drink that was just delicious. Even my jaded palate was pleased at the range of flavours, lovely when one savour gives way to another and they blend so well. My wife went for the house Champagne which is Gosset Champagne and is lovely, a mixture of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Made using 12% of reserve wines, which means this Champagne is always well balanced with a deep fruity taste. Perfect. The oldest Champagne House in Ay too, since 1584. The bottle is gorgeous too. We were going to have a little more of that later.
Lady: We had a lovely time in the bar and then felt ready for some more solid sustenance and repaired to the restaurant next door.
Lord: The waiters came over and we listened to recommendations, obvious enthusiasm for the menu and its range, I started with the Hand Dived Scottish Scallops , cauliflower puree, beignets and parmesan veloute which was so soft and tasty I was delighted and the portion was just right, leaving me happy but ready for more. Next I decided on something completely different, I almost never eat meat, preferring fish, but I went for the Glazed Quantock of Duck Breast, sweet potato puree, spiced red cabbage and liquorice jus. Absolutely delicious, the duck was perfect, pink in the middle as I asked and the softest duck I have ever eaten, just the best. Exquisitely balanced by the potato puree and the cabbage, a sweet range of tastes for the palate. They had John Dory, Sea Bass and Dover Sole too, which I look forward to trying on my next visit, but the duck was exceptional.
Lady: It was extremely hard to choose, but I eventually plumped for Warm Forman's Wild Smoked Salmon with orange puree, fennel mousse, and rye bread crouton (a thick piece of lightly smoked salmon, divine mix of flavours, wonderful starter, and then to follow the Fillet of Scottish Beef with red wine braised shallots, oxtail croquette, smoked pomme puree and truffle cream, absolutely delicious, cooked just as I'd asked, every mouthful just melted. The food really is superb and dinner was an absolute delight.
Lord: My wife and I were tucking into a bottle of the Gosset Champagne by now, which went down a treat, gone far too quickly. I added a glass of red wine to finish which was a Merlot and the Sommelier Alan Holmes knew everything there was to know about wine. I would have loved to have spent more time getting further inside info out of him on good new purchases to make for the next year and some older wines to look out for, but it was our anniversary, so I chose the grape and he recommended the wine. It was the perfect finish to the evening. I'd love to go on one of the wine evenings they do, they invite great international wine producers along, but these events sell out really fast.For desert I had the Coconut Parfait, roasted bananas and chocolate sorbet, just little touches of light ingredients delicately blended together to play the taste buds, rich and creamy, exquisite. Very relaxed by now.
Lady: The chef is Luke Mathews and he has a 27 strong chef team. An interesting story, Luke is from Bournemouth and started at Chewton Glen after college, he then worked in the Channel Islands and in France before rejoining Chewton Glen in 93 as sous chef and then appointed Executive chef in 2003. His philosophy includes getting the very best ingredients and that is clear from the meal we just enjoyed. He travelled the world to learn his craft and then returned to command the first place where he received his training, there's a certain satisfying Dumas roundness to that story.
Lord: The service was like everything at Chewton Glen, attentive and unobtrusive, helpful and warm. The staff are very highly skilled and therefore they delight is helping and demonstrating their passion for wine and food, ask about everything and anything, you will get personal opinion and service.
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