I don't like big corporate hotels, usually, and I certainly wouldn't stay there overnight, even though it is very luxurious; I'd pick somewhere smaller and sexier and possibly cheaper. The restaurant is excellent, though. We had the British experience menu:
Loch Fyne oyster, Glazed angel oyster with buttered leeks and Champagne sabayon I don't like ponced-up oysters. I like to slip them straight in my mouth with a bit of red onion vinaigrette and a jolt of tabasco. Champagne sabayon is almost always gratuitous, so this smacked of elaborate Frenchified faff for the sake of it and was not a promising start to a menu that was designed to celebrate British cuisine and ingredients. The textures were all wrong.
Gressingham duck, Warm lightly smoked duck breast with pear and golden raisin chutney I think British cuisine, at its best, combines the quality of raw materials of northern French cuisine with flavours as unfussy, bold and clean as southern Italian. This did so, flawlessly. The duck was meltingly tender.
Scottish scallops, Hand dived scallops with slow cooked belly of pork, orange and ginger dressing Ditto, only better. I liked this SO much I was DELIGHTED it came with pork so I got to eat both of them.
Balfour Brut Rose, Hush Heath Estate, Kent, 2005 – accompanying the oyster, duck and scallop They seemed to think one glass of this would cover three courses (as part of the £90 set menu price). They were were wrong. We had to have a whole bottle as well. It is crisp and rose-hippy. It isn't like a genteel French rose that is young in a gormless-bimbo-laughing-at-rich-man's-jo
G&T, London Gin and tonic sorbet And he hates the taste of gin so I win again. My own take on this has a better flavour, but theirs had a lovely velvety, sherberty mouthfeel. I could get that if I bought an ice cream maker but we all know where that would end, don't we?
Buccleuch beef, Fillet of beef with braised oxtail parcel, white onion and rosemary purée This was exquisite; rich and gorgeous and comfort-foody. The powerful flavour of the bloody beef was perfectly complimented by the slow-cooked stickiness and fragrance of the oxtail and rosemary.
Cabernet Merlot, 2005 – accompanying the beef Not greatly impressed with this as it was too bouncy and couldn't stand up to the rosemary and onion. Asked for something 'older, darker and muddier' and got a 1993 Domaine Drouhin Lauren pinot, which despite its name is from Oregon and was much, much more to my taste. It is probably just as well I didn't look at the bill.
British cheese from the trolley, Celtic Promise, Stinking Bishop and Isle of Mull with home made relish and walnut bread I'm not a great fan of stinking bishop, but the Celtic Promise and the Mull cheddar were very good indeed.
Rhubarb, A tasting of English rhubarb with custard Naz loved this as he had never eaten rhubarb before. He thought the sweets of the same name were a made up thing! So I just had a mouthful and gave him mine. Yes, I gave away my pudding.
Gewurztraminer, 2007 – accompanying the cheese and the rhubarb A good choice. Better with the rhubarb than the cheese.
Tea or coffee and sweet meats, Specially selected teas by Newby Teas of London or coffee Naturally, I had both sets of sweetmeats to make up for the loss of my pudding. I may have noticed the sweetmeats on another table before I made my somewhat calculated surrender of the rhubarb. I liked the date and pistachio marzipan thing the lovely Hungarian waiter brought me an extra one (note to self: must annex Hungary next).
Mineral Water, Delightfully Still or Gently Sparkling Hildon Natural Mineral Water from Hampshire I drank two litres of this during the meal, much to the alarm of our lovely Hungarian waiter.
I would really love to go there for breakfast - perhaps as a post-birthday treat.
The weekend has been mostly very good. More on this later. No I have to get my arse to the gym and then decide where I want to be taken for dinner. It's a hard life, really.