So one Friday evening, just before the London rush hour we thought we had our trip to Bath all planned. Google told us traffic didn’t exist and our journey would only take two hours, and it probably would have been – if not for the crash on the M4. A good 4 hours later we found ourselves finally arriving at Ston Easton Park hotel for dinner, stressed and with only 15 minutes till our reservation. But as we drove into the grounds of this grand hotel all that stress seemed to slip away. Arriving in the main lobby relaxed us even more. The attentive receptionist told us not to rush, showed us to our room and explained everything else we needed to know during our stay. A quick change later and we made our way down the grand staircase to The Saloon. A cosy and magnificent room to indulge in a glass of champagne and amuse bouche before going through to the restaurant. Within only 30 minutes the staff and surroundings here had made us forget about that long drive out from London.
One thing I’m a bit particular about is bread. I always say it and I’ll say it again. It’s the first thing you usually encounter during a meal and first impressions count the most – so the bread has to be good. And it was. In fact it was fabulous. From the salty roasted tomato focaccia, to the perfectly baked rolls and perfumed cheesy bread whose texture was not too dissimilar to a crumpet. I could happily of eaten these all over again. I was particularly fond of our amuse bouche too which we ate in The Saloon of artichoke velouté, laced with truffle cream. The perfect winter warmer.
Now I must apologies for some of my photos. The restaurant operates a no mobile phone policy so I was trying to be very discreet about the whole thing – a bit of a James Bond esq evening. Poached fillet of turbot came served with perfectly cooked squash risotto, samphire and onion bhaji – the latter part made the dish for me and brought spice and a good depth of flavour to everything. With such full on flavours a palate cleaner of elderflower sorbet helped neutralise that curry flavour from the bhaji and prepare us for our next course – which turned out to be our favourite dish.
Tying in with the luxury which Ston Easton Park manages to effortlessly ooze, our favourite dish arrived. Roast breast of mallard with foie gras, hazelnut, celeriac and mushrooms – the dish couldn’t have been any more decadent if it tried. The whole of the winter season and everything it has to offer was encompassed in this dish. The mallard was beautifully cooked and cut through with ease without any sign of a livery taste it can sometimes carry if overcooked. Foie gras added a touch of richness, while that celeriac puree helped marry everything together through each mouthful. Head chef here is Daniel Moon and he spares no expense to maximise every dishes flavours, utilising ingredients from the hotels Victorian walled gardens where possible. The dish was paired with a new Zealand Pinot Noir and while I loved the wine on its own, I felt the dish could have stood up to something every so slightly richer – perhaps even a luscious white Monbazillac.
None of the food here in The Sorrel Restaurant was bad but one dish didn’t quite capture my heart as well all the others did. Dessert. Our dark chocolate torte came with coffee ice-cream, candied walnuts and caramel. I’m not entirely sure I’d class the dish as a torte, but I see what they were getting at. Each element on their own felt a little singular too – especially the chocolate part which sat on the plates as piped dollops. Flavours were here, there’s not doubt about that – but I still felt this dish would be much more successful if it went towards the classic chocolate torte slice route. An espresso martini on the other hand gave us everything we wanted from it, and more.
Despite our dessert being slightly unbalanced from the rest of our meal, everything else was simply magnificent. From the pristine white tablecloths, to the gorgeous wood panelled dining room, excellent service and unforgettable mallard. The Sorrel Restaurant is a fantastic addition to what is already a spectacular hotel and for the future, I can only imagine this restaurant is going to get even better.