Auberge du Lac 22

Brocket Hall Welwyn , Welwyn Garden City, AL8 7XG

AubergeDuLac

SquareMeal Review of Auberge du Lac

Nestled at the heart of Brocket Hall estate (an 18th-century country retreat turned gold-standard hospitality venue), Auberge du Lac occupies a quaint one-time hunting lodge overlooking an ornamental lake (“a must to wander around”, notes a fan). Inside, friendly, obliging staff usher guests into a mini-maze of atmospheric rooms, before presenting them with a seasonally inspired menu that’s a joy to peruse. Chef Marcus McGuinness earned his spurs at two-Michelin-starred Hibiscus in Mayfair and it shows: the food may cost a pretty penny, but it’s great value when you consider such “beautifully presented” and “consistently excellent” delights as lobster ravioli with endive, caviar, pea and coconut velouté or rabbit ‘presse’ with cherries, pistachio and foie gras. Next, loin of English lamb might arrive with sweetbreads, baby leeks, roast heritage carrot, beets and smoked mash, while piscophiles might veer towards Cornish halibut with pearl barley, brown shrimp, crab broth and charred lettuce. For dessert, check out the ‘lemon meringue’ with violet ice cream, and don’t miss the spectacular cheese trolley. Want to stay? Rooms are available at Melbourne Lodge, just a short stroll away.

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7.8

Food & Drink: 7.5

Service: 7.9

Atmosphere: 7.4

Value: 6.9

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

Geoffrey C. 30 July 2014

Went to the restaurant to celebrate my sons Medical exam pass. What a dissappointment. Food – was akin to 1990's stereotypical minimalistic French style needing a magnifying glass to see the food Wine List – ranging from £85 for a standard Sincere to approaching £1000/bottle if you have more money than sense for 75cl of wine. Service – Mostly standing around waiters and we even needed to pour our own wine (at £75/bottle) + the 10% service charge added to bill for ‘bringing the bottle to the table’ We were really looking forward to going and was really saddened though made the best of it. Best thing about the place is the view of the lake/golf course at the back Sorry but this is my straightforward and impartial feedback

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Pac-Man 03 July 2014

Absolutely beautiful setting, with lakes aplenty and the distant sound of golf balls being thwacked. Despite the grand location and hefty pricing, service had a relaxed, comforting feel (thankfully), and food was delicious. We mixed and matched between the a la carte and the set lunch (full marks to the staff for letting us do that), so starters were a rustic terrine with sourdough, and near-faultless plate of octopus carpaccio. Mains saw a perfectly cooked piece of turbot with melting boulangeres potatoes, as well as braised pork belly with suitably spiky Asian spices. Raspberry soufflé with elderflower sorbet was spot on – light and delicate, perfectly cooked. Given the venue's broad-brush appeal (golf club, wedding venue etc), I was a bit apprehensive that the food might play second fiddle, but I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely return. The three-course set lunch (£29.50) is a steal.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

BoatLady platinum reviewer 15 March 2012

The 6 course tasting menu we had here was a real Michelin star worthy gastronomic experience. The restaurant itself is rather unprepossessing inside in my opinion and has a slightly 80s feel to it but the food is bang up to date modern. Dishes tend to be small, beautifully presented, not perhaps terribly innovative combinations but well executed and flavoursome. The “bookends” of the meal stick in my mind: a light crab salad to start, a deconstructed tiramisu dessert and a smile-inducing cheese trolley which is to be seen to be believed. I feared we might have a low grade experience here because we had come on a rather cheap voucher deal (including an overnight stay at Brocket Hall in whose imposing grounds the restaurant stands) but, other than perhaps being seated in a corner slightly out of the way, the service was still impeccable. The kitchen happily substituted some of the seafood dishes with meat ones for my ocean-phobic boyfriend. The charming sommelier was delighted (or feigned delight, which is still a sign of great service!) at our enthusiasm for the Albarino, Gewurtztraminer and unusual Argentinian dessert wine which he bought as part of the matching wines tasting menu. There was none of the snootiness you might get in some similarly graded venues. Paying full price it would have been about £120 each for the 6 course menu, the 5 glasses of matched wine and the cheeseplate supplement: not bad value for this Michelin starred meal and a good place to try it outside of London.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Richard B. 26 July 2011

We had the special deal lunch£32.50 + service for 3 courses + 2 glasses of wine. We arrived 20 minutes before booked time and had a drink on the terrace- very pleasant but £10.50 + service for a glass of chardonnay [asked for dry white] is taking the “Michael”! 15 minutes after booked time I sought out a waitress and suggested someone take order. We were in a rather uninspiring back room at one of the only tables without flowers! Service contined to be slow but perfectly pleasant. The food was all of a reasonable standard but really the only thing which was truely accomplished was the lemon tart which was let down by seeds in the raspberry sorbet. Main courses were lukewarm only. 2 hours 40 minutes from arrival for aperitif, 3 courses + coffee was unnecessarily long. Recently we had the lunch for less deal at Hambleton Hall in Rutland for a similar price.. A glass of champagne was less than here and everything from ambience through food and service was far superior.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 3.0

Ginola14 bronze reviewer 22 February 2011

You simply cannot beat the location of this charming country estate out-building nestling on the far banks of the “great house's” lake. I have had birthday bashes here – and took my wife on our first date here (a September 11th Saturday lunch – not THAT Septemebr 11th). A fellow reviewer is spot on – a great cheeseboard is a massive measure of what a place is all about. The cheese board here is one of the finest in the UK, say no more. Very difficult to fault much other than the prices – but I guess greatness comes at a cost. I find the Auberge du lac a bit like taking a London taxi – an indulgence. You know you can get to your destination much cheaper, only you know that this is the best way to do it. And unfortunately no matter how rich or poor we find ourselves, its almost impossible to take your eye off the meter as it clocks up the pounds and pence. If value is near faultless cooking, service and presentation then this is a 10. If value means not costing an arm and a leg, then you have to score this down. Nevertheless, every visit is exciting and a joy. But dont blow your last £200 to attend.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Christopher J. platinum reviewer 21 September 2010

You can always judge a restaurant by it's Cheese Board. Pied a Terre's for example, is pathetic. Le Bouchon Breton, a completely unassuming all-day brasserie has a terrific selection. The margin on Cheese is notoriously poor, so a restaurant either needs to extort customers or take the hit. I don't think Auberge were taking a hit on our £150/head tasting menu with Wine that evening, but the Cheese Trolley I spotted on the way in looked amazing and I wobbled out innumerable courses later, it stood to confirm my theory. I won't bang on about how good the food is, as the Michelin guys have been there more often and awarded two stars. Well earned and an extra one for the stunning location. A very memorable evening, perfect for a special occasion.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Mitzie8cake platinum reviewer 15 April 2010

Our visit to Auberge was in celebration of my mother's birthday so quite an important visit. Upon arrival we were promptly shown to our seats as the bar was shut for a private event but no matter, onwards we went. We chose to dine with the set menu which was value for money at £35 for a 3 course menu. They also helped enthusiastically with vegetarian options off the menu which was good to see. The gardens outside and the river that runs alongside provide a calming and aesthetically pleasing atmosphere, inside though, the house is a little dated and in need of a superficial decoration. Service was good when it was available but unfortunately there were spells where we were waiting for waiters to re-appear. Our mains also took a good 30-40 mins to arrive after our starters which was a little longer than I'd usually expected. Especially as there were only 5-6 tables filled. When the food did arrive it was of a good standard, though unfortunately there was not the usual wow factor that I associate with a Michelin starred restaurant. the starter of goats cheese, beetroot and sultana salad with pea shoots showed some innovation but nothing out of the ordinary for a modern European restaurant. Moving on to a main of grey mullet with samphire and razor clam butter, a fish I'd not tried before, I was quite surprised to find how over seasoned it was, being one to usually reach out for the salt and give it a good whack. Unfortunately half way through I had to give up in order to give my heart a fighting chance. The dessert of white chocolate tart, nougatine and milk chocolate hazelnut ice cream pulled the whole affair back a little but overall the experience was nowhere near as exciting or as interesting as I was expecting. I've been to better star-less restaurants and seen far more magic. Certainly one to visit if you are in the area but don't let the Michelin star fool you.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Foodess platinum reviewer 05 August 2009

Lucky to be passing by we managed to get a last-minute reservation here which upon arrival was quite busy for Tuesday afternoon. It seemed to be popular with ladies who lunch, business people and golfers alike, and given the spectacular setting should suit anyone really. Not only was it the oasis within a barren part of an increasingly epicurean country, it happened to be the sort of place which rouses in-party fighting to get the seats facing the gardens. Having read reviews I had high expectations. After a disappointing start where good tuna and brown shrimps were overpowered by dressings, one creamy plus an oil overdose probably delivered by a wobbly hand, I was very relieved that the dishes got progressively better. The ultimate lip-smacker being the plum tart with praline ice cream which was quite finely balanced in all respects. Offer as per previous review is certainly good value. It’s true that this venue is a bit grand and formal but a truly stunning setting which will be added to list of places to re-visit.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Huw T. bronze reviewer 28 April 2009

I have to say that the Auberge has really upped its game since the departure of Novelli. The situation is fantastic – simply can't be beaten, particularly outside overlooking the lake on a summer's day. Inside, the conservatory setting is very pleasant even in winter. The welcome is warm, if a little stuffy. The food is what you'd expect from such an establishment – superbly presented, small portions but very tasty. Bread is excellent. The set menu is good value and the recent lunch offer of two courses including two generous glasses of wine for £30 was exceptional. I believe they've extended the offer into May 09 and I'd encourage anyone to take advantage of this offer. If you want a wider choice of wines the wine list is excellent, if expensive. The sommelier is very helpful. By far and away the best restaurant in the area without travelling to London.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Alexandra B. 26 September 2008

We ate at Auberge du Lac when it was run by JC Novelli and found it lacking. However, under new guidance from Phil Thompson it is fabulous! The food was amazing anf of course the stunning location will always help… Make sure if weather permits you have canapes on the terrace by the lake

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