MHAIRI MAC­FAR­LANE has a fine time find­ing out why Sea­sons at Stoke Place is caus­ing such a stir

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

ON a chilly win­ter evening we made our way up the drive of Stoke Place to be greeted with a warm wel­come by staff at this charm­ing bou­tique ho­tel.

Hav­ing heard about the new Sea­sons restau­rant, which opened last year, my hus­band and I were keen to try it out and find out what all the fuss was about. I must con­fess, some­times I find fine dining to be all pre­sen­ta­tion and lack­ing in sub­stance – which for some­one with a healthy ap­petite can be dis­ap­point­ing. How­ever, I need not have wor­ried as our meal at Sea­sons was pre­sented in an ex­cep­tional style, but also burst­ing with flavours and tex­tures – and plenty fill­ing too!

The menu is the cre­ation of tal­ented ex­ec­u­tive chef James Dug­gan and – as the restau­rant name sug­gests – is sea­sonal and uses care­fully sourced pro­duce.

The ground-floor restau­rant has a light and mod­ern decor and over­looks the stunning gar­dens. There is an ex­ten­sion wine menu – all 32 pages of it – but our at­ten­tive waiter helped us to cir­cum­nav­i­gate that by mak­ing some rec­om­men­da­tions.

Af­ter a tasty amuse­bouche to whet the ap­petite, I plumped for ash Orkney scal­lop for my starter which ar­rived on cer­e­mony pre­sented in a scal­lop shell bal­anced on a bed of seasalt.

The pre­sen­ta­tion was de­light­ful and the fish was melt in the mouth, with the Gen­tle­man’s Rel­ish not over­pow­er­ing the del­i­cate flavour.

For­ever the meat lover, my hus­band had the Cor­nish Lamb Dumpling which was sub­stan­tial, tasty and sat­is­fy­ing all in equal mea­sure.

For the main I had the beer glazed roast Cotswold chicken with Mayan gold bar­ley casse­role and salt baked turnip. The chicken was flavour­some and the turnip and casse­role warm­ing. My hus­band had the her­itage beef fil­let with triple cooked chips – all lined up in an or­derly fash­ion – and ac­com­pa­nied by onion rings, tomato and a clas­sic Béar­naise sauce.

The beef was also cooked per­fectly and very, very ten­der.

Fi­nally for my favourite course – dessert. Spoilt for choice I opted for the banof­fee, with gra­nola, meringue and liquorice, and my hus­band the Re­bel­lion Ale choco­late pud­ding with salted carame burnt milk ice cream. Now if, like me, you are a fan o banof­fee pie, you must ban­ish all pre­vi­ous ones from your mind as this dessert is noth­ing like the gloopy, lumpy ex­pe­ri­ence we are familiar with. Once again, the pre­sen­ta­tion was de­light­ful – a lit­tle tof­fee taste with a very light toasted meringue on top, com­pli­mented by ice cream, ba­nana jus and a de­li­cious. The Re­bel­lion Ale Choco­late Pud­ding oozed with choco­late sauce which melted in with the caramel ice cream.

All the dishes on the menu looked like real win­ter warmers and food that would stick to your ribs – which is much needed in this re­lent­less cold weather. And I will be in­ter­ested to see how the menu changes with the sea­sons at Sea­sons.

At £45 for two cour­ses and £55 for three cour­ses choos­ing from this menu, I would ex­pect stunning pre­sen­ta­tion, qual­ity pro­duce and ex­cep­tional flavours, which it was – a truly spe­cial, fine dining ex­pe­ri­ence.

TASTY: ash Orkney scal­lop starter. Inset left, Her­itage beef fil­let with triple cooked chips

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