You might think you’ve stepped onto the set for some historical drama when you arrive at Old Downton Lodge. Surrounded by a 5,500-acre Shropshire estate, this motley collection of ancient buildings grew from the remnants of a medieval farm that were developed in Georgian times – take a look at the flower-bedecked courtyard, the half-timbered exterior, the rustic outbuildings and the ‘museum’ room with its mighty cider press before heading to the restaurant. This atmospheric space conjures up visions of a great hall from days gone by, although the food on offer is bang up to date, “fabulously inventive” and “locally inspired”, with choice of two tasting menus on offer for dinner. High points might range from a modish plate of asparagus, potato and horseradish mousse with a 62-degree egg to salmon with avocado, keta caviar, radish and rock samphire or duck with turnip purée, pomegranate and charred spring onion, while desserts are overtly clever contrivances such as a combo of rhubarb, egg custard, chocolate, malted milk mousse pistachio and banana. Diners can also dip into a well-considered list of classy wines. The verdict? “Stunning!”
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