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Set among pine forests and trickling brooks, this long-time gastronomic beacon on the edge of the bucolic Wye Valley now serves a real taste of its surroundings. Mixing delicate French technique with super-premium Welsh produce, Raymond Blanc protégé Chris Harrod currently employs a full-time forager to provide pickings for his kitchen. These wild things now form a vital component for his distinctive cooking: Wye Valley asparagus might be paired with ‘hedgerow pickings’, maritime pine and Tintern mead, while Orkney scallops are garlanded with pickled alexanders, roast chicken skin and nasturtium. Elsewhere, ground elder pops up in a dish of day-boat turbot, while wild chervil and bittercress are the chosen feral companions for a plate of squab pigeon and forced rhubarb. Desserts also get the treatment, as in a combo of blackcurrant, camomile and sage. Readers “love” the tasting menu, the set lunch is bargain and warm courteous service is a given – whatever the occasion. There’s also an impressive wine list to peruse (including some local Welsh names), or you can try Chris’s own pine-infused gin – perfect if you’re staying over.
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