Taking orders - Restaurant Coworth Park
by Sarah Alcock
Our Travel editor, Francesca Syz, went to visit the beautiful Coworth Park, and taste the delicious things the restaurant has to offer...
What is it?
The main dining room at the Dorchester Group's rural outpost, Restaurant Coworth Park is an intimate, grown-up affair with a great big leafy copper chandelier as its centrepiece. It looks out across the hotel's ornamental gardens to wildflower meadows beyond. There's a new menu by executive chef Adam Smith, who joined the hotel in May, bringing a modern take on classic British dishes. Predicted as 'one to watch' by Michel Roux Snr, Smith has worked with Yannick Alléno at Le Meurice in Paris and was Observer Food Monthly Young Chef of the Year in 2012.
Where is it?
A grand but contemporary Georgian manor house hotel set in 240 rolling acres of parkland, Coworth Park is near Ascot (and just a 10-minute taxi from Virginia Water, for those arriving by train).
Salt-baked carrot with goats' curd, truffle and quail egg
What's on the menu?
The menu is packed with wholesome British ingredients I love, from Cornish crab to venison and pork belly, all prepared in interesting, elegant ways.
There is a seven-course tasting menu at £95 per person, to which you can add wine pairing from £65. We choose à la carte (three courses for £70, excluding wine) and find various little treats thrown in. We try not to fill up on the delicious home-baked rosemary sourdough we slather with smoked sea salt butter as the friendly, knowledgeable staff bring over neat little rows of bursting-with-flavour amuse-bouches. There's a light, crunchy beetroot macaroon, a savoury cookie filled with smoked dill cream and a coronation chicken mousse in a Lilliputian pastry dish.
Rosemary sourdough with smoked sea salt butter
For one starter, we splurge on a caviar tart (£10 extra), a delicious, rich yet somehow zingily fresh-tasting dish with Cornish crab, cucumber, yuzu (an Asian citrus fruit) and a blob of crème fraiche dusted with cayenne pepper on the side. The other is a more moderate but delicious salt-baked carrot with goats' curd, truffle and quail egg.
Next, we try the chef's new two-part game dish featuring grouse, wild mallard, partridge and a little chicken. It starts with a warm, flavour-packed bowl of consommé made from all four birds, laced with chestnuts, swede, truffle, juniper berries and cracked pepper. Then there's a little puff pastry pie made with the breast meat of all four, accompanied by a giant sourdough crouton, laden with slow-cooked leg meat from the birds, topped by Welsh rarebit. It's good but very, very filling. The show-stopper is an aged beef sirloin trimmed down to fillet-size, with brown butter mash blended with braised oxtail, cep mushrooms and turnips, all in a rich beef jus.
Aged beef sirloin, brown butter mash, braised oxtail
After a blackcurrant jelly yogurt palate cleanser, dessert is a deliciously light hedgehog-shaped coffee mousse with white chocolate mousse inside and a scoop of masala chai ice cream. I'm sure the petit fours they bring us with our coffee (him) and fresh mint tea (me) are delicious but I'm too full to try them.
Blackcurrant jelly yoghurt palate cleanser
The dish we would order next time?
The delectable-looking pumpkin ravioli with pecorino, sage and girolles.