Fine dining at a Country House in the Home Counties is always going to be a solid choice for someone. After arriving down a driveway that probably started in Sussex and 2 hours later finished in Surrey!, which was certainly more for ones Rangy rather than Lamborghini, we were met by the grand Gravetye Manor. Almost eerie looking, you do wonder if Agatha Christie wrote most of her novels here…. I was all set for a Murder Mystery night!
We had booked a private dining room that could have seated 8 at a push, but with one member not being able to make it due to traffic, the four of us had ample space. However that was later – first we were ushered into ‘our private bar’ which had a splendid Whiskey selection but more importantly an English wine and bubbles choice second to none. The 2011 Bluebell Vineyard Hindleap Rose didn’t disappoint either. Nibbles were brought out by the very friendly and extraordinarily professional staff, whom each introduced themselves in a manor that gave us confidence that we were in for a superb night.
A week earlier we all had chosen 3 Canapés from an extensive list to start the night off with and they were duly brought out once everyone had arrived and settled…… Again the whole set up screamed pride and professionalism. The canapés were tasty and after another Bluebell Vineyard offering we were seated in Our room.
We had decided upon the 7 course taster menu and I felt it rude not to have a complimenting wine flight. Each course and wine were brought out by the waiter and junior sommelier respectively, with a description and speech that showed their obvious passion, knowledge and pride in what they were serving. Initially they seemed nervous but a couple of courses in they relaxed and were also very friendly and chatty whilst still remaining at our service.
First up was a Garden salad with a Hen’s yolk and delicate flowers etc etc! Presented like a work of art….. Not my normal selection and wasn’t fussed…. But it was a taster menu I reminded myself. However the choice of accompanying wine was genius! A herby English Bacchus…..,,,, Extremely pleasant and will be bought again!
Secondly were Orkney Scallops with a Miso glaze. Again not my cup of tea…. Certainly not convinced by the glaze, but 4 more empty plates tells its own tale. Washed down by a nice Pouilly-Fume.
Next was a Pressing of Rougie Foie Gras with Madeira Jelly and an Almond Brioche. The brioche was lovely….. Dave also said that my Foie Gras was good too! Three courses in and I wasn’t overwhelmed but I do know that I have an uneducated palette concerning some dishes.
Poached South Coast Lemon Sole would not be my normal choice but boy oh boy was I to be handed a lesson. Served with cuttlefish and ink macaroni, the dish was a little taste of heaven. Superb and is why one chooses the taster menu!
The meat course was a herb crusted saddle of lamb… Alone it would have been okay but when served with a mini haggis, roasted garlic and mint jellies….. it becomes devine. The food has really stepped up a gear and the wine followed suit. This was Fun and Indulgence at its finest.
The Hendricks Gin and Tonic sorbet cooled proceedings back down for us, pun intended, although I don’t know if it quite works there!, but of course this was to be no normal scoop of sorbet. It was served with cucumber shavings, pistachio sponge and sorrelade. Very refreshing.
A Raspberry Crumble Soufflé was next out…. Obviously cooked to perfection…. The chef had definitely done this before!, and yet it got better…… Our waiter expertly caressed open each one to allow him to lovingly add Clotted Cream Ice Cream, before pouring a Raspberry and Mint Compote with military GPS precision. Simply put….. It was perfect. No need for Chocolate anywhere!
To continue our over indulgence we had selections from a cheese table, served by, who we nicknamed, a ‘Fromagerist’. (Any help or correction here would be appreciated!). Again he was passionate, knowledgable and friendly, who clearly loved his job. There were a variety of Goats cheeses, plenty of English ones, some good blues but we all decided that the ‘Lancashire Bomb’ soft cheddar was the pick of the bunch. Totally yummy – so much so that two of us bought it off google there and then!
Don’t get me wrong…… This indulgence and excess, using the finest ingredients (normally local), thought about and then cooked to seemingly perfection, plated like a mini Monet every time, served with a smile and professionalism at its peak……. Didn’t come cheap!…… But once in a blue moon or perhaps every other Thursday?…. It is worth it.
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