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“A complete rounded visit” awaits at Stovell’s – a sympathetically restored “mind-your-head” 16th-century farmhouse that blends rough-hewn beams, mullioned windows and low ceilings with vivid wallpaper, contemporary furnishings and deep-pile carpets. Fernando Stovell’s “epic food” continues to receive rave reviews as he fashions complex, finely honed dishes strewn with global influences – from guinea fowl (roasted over an open fire) with quince to a deconstructed beef Wellington with truffle mash (“an absolute must”) or melting Ibérico pork neck with pork popcorn, onion crisp and avocado three ways. There are also simple grills and a dedicated tasting menu inspired by Fernando’s Mexican homeland – think, fish tacos, duck carnitas and ox tongue infladita with chilli morita and black lime. To finish, keep it lively with a “tennis ball” of chocolate mille-feuille or carrot cake “served in a mini garden pot” with confit baby carrots and smoked sour-cream icing. The global wine list offers plenty of keenly priced drinking, but also check out the fab barrel-aged cocktails and “amazing” home-distilled gin. “You’d pay a ton more in central London for this”, cheers one fan.
SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK 2018 is compiled using votes from our annual survey, last conducted in spring 2018. Thousands of readers took part and the results were moderated by SquareMeal’s editor and his nationwide team of professional reviewers. The UK survey does not include any restaurants in London. Click here for the full list of SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK.
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Longcross Station 3km
Sunningdale Station 4km
Chobham Golf Club 2km
Sunningdale Golf Club 2km
Tues-Fri 12N-3.30pm 6-10.30pm Sat 6-9.30pm Sun 12N-4pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 4
The restaurant has not been open on the first working day of the New Year for a number of years, but it was clearly the right thing to do in 2018 as the lunch sitting was very well attended and the diners were certainly able to profit from the high standard set by Fernando Stovell in his mind-your-head 16th century mansion. Although the Mexican tasting menu looked interesting, we decided to go à la carte, and, unusually, we selected different options for each of the courses. The amuse-bouches tickled the palate appropriately, tapioca crisp with garam masala and creamy aubergine dip, and a sweet celeriac, parsnip and potato soup with horseradish foam setting us up for some very good open fire-roasted Norfolk guinea fowl with quince and a lovely warm foie gras dish with toasted hazelnuts, Grelot onions, hay tea dressing with sherry and a cooling pennywort juice. Next came a deconstructed beef Wellington, tasty char-grilled local beef sitting on top of a flaky pastry “bun” with a lovely truffle mash, oxtail, brassica and perfect duck-fat cooked chips, and wood-roasted Iberico pork neck which was beautifully tender, had the authentic Spanish taste and was enhanced by pork “popcorn”, avocado served three ways, and onion crisp. A pre-dessert of lime granita with raspberry and hibiscus sorbet was extremely good as well as acting as a palate cleanser for what the menu claimed to be a chocolate mille-feuille but was actually a tennis ball sized sphere cleverly filled with a ganache and accompanied by banana sprinkled with caramelised sugar and vanilla cream, while the other dessert, carrot cake, came in a mini garden pot with confit baby carrots and smoked sour cream. These thoughtful variations on standard themes and the good biscotti, chocolate balls with a touch of Bailey’s, a macaron with a touch of chilli and a chilli choco-brownie which finished our lunch all made a very good impression and confirmed once more that, for us, Michelin is less likely to get restaurant ratings right than the other guides.
Our first visit at lunch today, fixed up on the spur of the moment when we discovered that Stovell's is closed Saturday lunchtime . We both opted for starter and main from the a la carte menu and a glass of tasty Rosso di Montalcino, and we left thinking we'd had a good time and that it's likely we'll return
We've travelled fairly widely within our local area (Berks/Bucks/Surrey) to find places we can really enjoy and look forward to. Its harder than you might think, albeit that we have a huge number to choose from. Sure we have some very fine restaurants, but they're mostly hugely expensive and hard to secure a table. We have a raft of one, occasionally two, Michelin star restaurants, but most of them disappoint by comparison to their London peers and frankly we don't use them much in our local area these days. And then we have gastropubs or equivalent by the zillion, and some are very good without offering quite the quality and imagination we'd like to enjoy locally if we could.
It's in that context that we chose Stovell's today, and indeed we think that this might be a find. Everything we ate today was cooked properly and presented nicely, from Amuses Bouches to coffee. The food was tasty and nothing jarred. The flavours are not as intense as we'd ideally hope for, but its better than decent. We were a little taken aback by the pre-starter food delivery. A little glass of butternut squash soup, a variety of good bread, smoked and salted butter, two spreads, one of pork dripping and one of what tasted like taramasalata, and ( I think) a semolina? cracker topped with Bacala and some fennel. Maybe a little OTT? We always consider these free dishes carefully as its often a taste of what's to come. Here, the soup and semolina dish were rather bland , and the dripping served perhaps too soft and warm, and it did get me a bit concerned about what we might get next. For me its very simple- unless your freebies are as good as the food on your menus, don't give them.
But my wife's broth of leaves and my scallops , both complex dishes with lots going on in them, put our minds at rest, and likewise the main courses of rabbit for me and slow cooked pork in a very tasty jus confirmed that this kitchen cooks very nicely . We enjoyed our side of turnip bubble and squeak too.
Service was well timed and pleasantly delivered throughout, and is a strength we thought. The restaurant itself bears some comment. Its a kind of traditional, comfy, country kind of place , and pleasant enough. However the food they serve in it is rather more contemporary and in my mind there's a little jarring between the food and the environment in which its served. At £110 including service for two courses, a glass of wine each and coffee . If the wine had been a bottle , and two courses became three, then the bill might easily pass £150 for two- by no means outrageous for quality food and attentive service, but neither is it a bargain. But all in all we enjoyed it and I'm sure we'll be back.
Food + drink: 5
We spent wonderful evening at Stovells to celebrate my wife's birthday in the private dinning room. The food was truly excellent and the service was attentive without being intrusive. I couldn't fault a single thing and would recommend this restaurant to anyone.
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