If I ever had to choose a type of dining I love the most, it would always be fine dining. The lavish excuse to drink lots of Champagne, put on your best velvet jacket or occasionally a shiny bow tie where a restaurant is the only time you can realistically get away with it. Or if in fact you’re dining at the oh-so opulent André Garrett Restaurant at Cliveden House Hotel. The dining room is a magnificent piece or art and the hotel as a whole really feels more like a palace than a house.
We started our meal like every other with a nice cold glass of Champagne at a rather incredible table. Two window facing seats illuminated by candlelight which look out over the gorgeous Cliveden estate. We felt like royalty sitting here and it’s so romantic you almost feel like you’re back on a first date or celebrating a relationship milestone – except we’re just having a dinner in a hotel on a Thursday evening.
As usual I’m always apologising for my photos but as the sun started to set and the romantic atmosphere began to unfold – that single candle was my only sauce of light. A small amuse quickly arrived of girolle cream and cheese custard served in a cup. Such a richness and depth of flavour which really coated the palate and it paired perfectly with the butteriness of our glass of Champagne.
We were dining from the seven course tasting menu and portion wise it was very generous. One dish I absolutely loved was this plate of Portland crab with avocado, lemon gel and quinoa crackers. It wasn’t particularly complex, but it offered so much freshness and flavour combinations – but still feeling very indulgent at the same time.
While our previous dish was on the lighter side, our next was almost polar opposite and as rich as could be. A round of some seriously good foie gras “au torchon”, rich and mouth-watering Sauternes jelly and a side of some legendary warm brioche which my dining companion practically inhaled before I could even take a photo. It was that good.
Cornish turbot “a la grenobloise” came with white asparagus, pea and beautiful Jersey royals. The fish was cooked incredibly well and fell apart at the sight of my fork. The sauce was silky and rich, while the thick pea puree added another layer of texture and flavour. There was such a good balance of saltiness and sweetness to this dish too which made each spoonful so satisfying.
Another of my favourite dishes was this Devon rack of lamb. Perfectly pink and served with some stunning miso aubergine, sprouting broccoli, dollops of green olive sauce and a thick and luscious rosemary jus. Such a heart-warming dish which really reminded me that Winter was on its way.
If we hadn’t already consumed our weight in food, a plate of cheese arrived and gosh was it good. Creamy and pungent Barkham blue, endive salad, dried fig and concord grape gel. Delicious.
We finished up on my favourite part of the meal – dessert. Variations of chocolate and mint was essentially a glorified Aero chocolate bar, but better of course. Layers of rich ganache, aerated chocolate, crumble and a scoop of Moroccan mint ice cream.
Seven courses later and around seven generous glasses of wine later we were ready to retire to our magnificent room here at Cliveden House Hotel. Petit fours in hand. I really enjoyed my dinner here at André Garrett Restaurant and thought it blended into the rest of the hotel so well. The dining room was opulent, the food creative, wines delicious and service impeccable. All I can’t work out is why this restaurant doesn’t have a Michelin star – because it should do!
NB: My meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.