It’s disappointing that an otherwise excellent hotel experience was let down by several service glitches in its Michelin starred restaurant.
The evening started out fine. We arrived at the bar promptly at 7.45. Drinks were served. So were canapés – good canapés, mind. Menus were proffered. Orders were taken. In due course, we were shown through to the dining room.
Now, I don’t know about you but I have an expectation that, once you’re seated, some food is going to arrive very soon after. Even if it’s only bread. Well, it didn’t. In excess of 20 minutes went by before bread arrived. It wasn’t just us – I could see another table looking at their watches and finger tapping. There was also an amuse. A not terribly good amuse at that. A small bacon risotto arancini topped a sweetcorn pannacotta which, in turn, topped a hazelnut mousse. Arancini was decent enough but the remainder just left a sort of claggy coating in your mouth. Bread was good.
A starter of lobster and potato mousse was topped with a little caviar and a very good sauce gribiche. Also good was marinated salmon which came with beetroot served several ways – mousse, sauce, dice, etc. And another classic salmon accompaniment of horseradish cream.
For mains, stone bass – a relative of the more common sea bass – came with perfectly crisp skin and sat on a bed of quinoa. Alongside, slices of fennel and tomato, a basil cream and a black olive puree. It was pleasant enough but would have been much improved by the glass of wine ordered to accompany it. However, that simply failed to arrive.
Across the table, a beef dish was demonstrating a masterclass in parsimonious portion control. And, frankly, this was just taking the piss when it had attracted a £5 supplement on top of the £69 price for three courses. There were just three thin slices of fillet. And two cubes of braised beef cheek, no bigger than your thumbnail. A couple of gnocchi and a couple of morels and that was pretty much it. It wouldn’t have made an particularly generous starter portion, let alone a main course.
So, time for desserts. At which point, service took another dive. A single menu is given to us – no problem sharing I hear you think. Although it all becomes clear when we try to order. Or, rather, it doesn’t become at all clear. I’m told that I can’t have my chosen dessert because my dessert will have been “pre-ordered”. WTF, I hear you say. WTF, I almost hear myself say. But I just think it. We tell the waitress that we have no idea what she is talking about. Perhaps her poor command of English meant she didn’t understand us, as she only kept repeating that the dessert was a “pre-order”. So we repeated that we had no idea what she was talking about. After more to-ing and fro-ing, she wrote down two dessert orders and went away. Later the restaurant manager came to apologise, if not explain, saying that an “error” had been made (she later comp’d out coffee and petit fours)
Pre- dessert was a belter – lemon pannacotta, topped with a mini doughnut. Just the sort of palate cleanser you want.
A “salad” of strawberries brought fresh fruit, a strawberry jelly, basil jelly, vanilla parfait and a raspberry sorbet. Summer itself!
Raspberry soufflé came accompanied by a white chocolate sauce and the raspberry sorbet. Souffle perfectly executed; sorbet and sauce perhaps a little muted.
So, it may be possible to argue that the food was worthy of the restaurant’s Michelin star. Personally, I wouldn’t make that argument. And I’m absolutely certain that the glitches put it nowhere even approaching Michelin service standards.