It’s a delicate dance to balance a luxurious restaurant without stifling the offering with stuffiness. Against the odds Skye Gyngell and her team have created a wonderfully indulgent space in Marle which still retains elements of relaxed homeliness.
The tone is set with the interiors; a lofty, open space with an orangery-like section to one side and wide terrace to the front. Here light wood and marble are mixed with neutral soft furnishings and sculptural use of the estate’s botanical bounty for a naturally whimsical flow that extends through the menu.
Each of the dishes on the short a la carte is carefully crafted using hyper-seasonal produce grown organically on the estate itself or by producers nearby. There’s very little going on in terms of intervention, just a handful of clean flavours on each plate. Starters of a creamy mushroom ravioli coated in a bright lemon butter sauce and sweet, perfectly caramelised scallops with a mellow sweetcorn puree are perfectly portioned to allow for the full three course experience. Elsewhere, a main of wild, locally caught seat trout, hollandaise and cucumbers was harmonious with herbaceous notes through the sauce.
The best was saved to last when a caramel chocolate tart arrived by way of the genial staff. Here, a smooth caramel reservoir is caught under a smooth chocolate tart filling and topped with wonderfully thick cream (from a very generous cow who had the good fortune of calling Heckfield home).
Drinks are given no less reverence with cocktails like a Bloody Mary having been given a glow up with clear tomato water and horseradish-infused vodka combining to create a lighter version of this classic serve. Elsewhere there’s a carefully honed wine list, and softs are equally as sophisticated as the alcohol on offer, with homemade lemonades and fragrant lemon verbena pressés.
This kind of laidback luxury doesn’t come cheap, with dinner easily clocking in at £100 per person, but for a little countryside escapism within a stone’s throw of London there’s nowhere we’d rather temporarily call home.