20 October 2015
While we were hanging about outside the restaurant at 7:28 waiting for the door to be opened, along with a number of other prospective 7:30 diners, we spotted a notice in the window advertising front-of-house vacancies, surprising for such a highly-rated venue, but by the end of the meal we found ourselves wondering how many of the current staff did not intend to stay. When we did get into the dining room we found it light and well-decorated with some interesting art work, and settled in to perusing the menu. Interestingly, and unusually, there was no tasting menu, just a choice of number of dishes for a given total price, so we looked at the starters and found that the immediate selection for my wife, namely lobster, was at a supplement, although she was also attracted by the pigeon dish which she decided to ask for as her mains. I was drawn to the rabbit starter and, of the three meat mains, lamb rather than the ubiquitous Gressingham duck or the venison as we had had that the evening before. All of which made the wine selection tricky, especially as there was only champagne on offer by the glass. The wine list showed a distinct French bias, with nothing from England or other old world sources and just a nod to the new world, and there was no sommelier to offer any advice. The lovage and goat's cheese mousse was the best of the three canapés, and our opinions differed on the merits of the amuse-bouche of roasted pumpkin velouté with maple syrup and bacon foam. Our starters were both good: the rabbit loin very tender and full of flavour, the rillette quite striking and the mousse moreish, but this dish was a bit protein heavy, something which could not be said for the generous serving of very good lobster (native?) with pear slices, Jerusalem artichoke crisps and sorrel purée and a sprinkling of malt crumbs. Curiously my lamb, presumably sliced from the same piece of saddle, varied in tenderness, and the slow-cooked breast was very tasty but did not exactly melt in the mouth, somehow making one feel it was more hoggett than lamb, but the wild garlic pesto compensated for this to an extent. The wood pigeon, upsized from a starter portion, followed the same lines as the other two meat dishes, namely a cut plus a confection of 'haché', both of which were tender and tasty, but the mushy beetroot was unconvincing. We opted for the cheese (£12 supplement) which was a decent selection of French, English and Irish cheeses, with the Roquefort quite outstanding, and were then served a successful palate cleanser in the form of an apple crumble sorbet with crunchy apple pieces on top, which led us into dessert mode. The desserts were both very pretty and my duck egg custard cream turned out to be rather neutral in the face of some fairly acidic rhubarb and hibiscus sorbet, but luckily my wife's chocolate délice with milk ice cream, beurre noisette and butterscotch was one of the most convincing dishes we had all evening. All in all this was an okay meal at an acceptable price but it did not have the wow factor expected, and so it is with much regret that we have to report our disappointment with yet another two-star restaurant which failed to come up to standard.