A breath-taking location overlooking Rutland Water is just one reason why visitors gravitate towards Hambleton Hall – a quintessentially English country retreat done out like a petite French château, complete with superbly landscaped grounds, terraced gardens and magnificent antique-filled interiors. Built in 1881 as a hunting box and transformed into a luxury hotel a century later by current owners Tim and Stefa Hart, Hambleton Hall has received a whole host of accolades over the years, including the longest retained Michelin Star in the UK (awarded in 1982). Long-serving chef Aaron Patterson and his highly skilled team produce top-class food in the modern idiom, and readers confirm that the results are “absolutely spectacular”.
The restaurant occupies an appropriately stately room, while “impeccable” well-tutored staff mix grace and good humour with consummate attention to detail. A prettily-designed menu celebrates the seasons, and the kitchen follows suit – think a terrine of heritage carrots with spiced carrot ice cream followed by duck with kumquat, orange and caramelised endive.
Presentation is picture-perfect, whether you’re in the market for a plate of Presa Iberico pork or something luxurious from ‘gourmet corner’ – perhaps roast leg of milk-fed Pyrenean mountain lamb with violet artichoke, spring greens and creamed potatoes. To finish, signature soufflés and sorbets lead the pack, or you might fancy peach, raspberry and sablé breton. The tasting menu, while not cheap, is good value considering the quality, and will typically include ingredients from Aaron Patterson’s best local suppliers, who have such strong ties they come to the kitchen personally to drop them off.
Meanwhile, the set lunch menu at £31.50 for two courses or £40 for three, is a steal. Vegetarians are well catered-for with signature dishes such as cauliflower cheese with spiced lentils and cauliflower beignets, but vegans will struggle. The authoritative wine list is proudly biased ‘in favour of the little guy’.