In an area seemingly not well endowed with decent restaurants, it’s good to come across somewhere making an effort and, generally speaking, hitting the mark. And there’s a lot of good things going on for this restaurant attached to the Cottage in the Woods Hotel.
Firstly, there’s the eponymous outlook. The restaurant is on a hill and the view over the Worcestershire countryside must be one of the finest in England. Then there’s the friendly and efficient staff – just about striking that difficult balance between friendly and formal. And there’s a menu that reads pretty well.
As for the food, well, the kitchen tries hard but, unfortunately, dishes slightly miss the perfection mark. Lack of seasoning is an issue and there’s no really bold flavours. As in a beetroot and rosemary risotto, where the herb couldn’t be detected. There was a nice, sweet earthiness from the beetroot that would have benefitted from a punch of the advertised horseradish velouté but, again, this was underflavoured and little more than cream. The saving grace was an excellent Parmesan beignet.
The other starter, a concoction featuring a ballotine of chilled mackerel and shards of smoked mackerel was pleasant enough and well matched with a pea velouté.
My main course was a very long cooked ox cheek, together with broccoli, mashed potato and a red wine sauce. Interestingly, there was also “carrot four ways” – puree, crisp, roasted and pickled. Good dish.
Across the table, a salmon dish was described as a salmon and mussel ragout but actually wasnt. Instead, there was a decently cooked fillet of the fish, sitting on a bed of fennel and samphire, with a scattering of mussels and a cream sauce. A single lobster tortellino was the only carb.
Desserts were the best course. By far. Chocolate torte and a spiced carrot cake. Both rich, elegantly presented and really delicious.