Clinging on to holiday mode, I enjoyed one of my last days of freedom before heading back to work being wined and dined at King Louis 18ths old stomping ground, the beautiful Hartwell House. The grounds of the 4* hotel and spa provided a stunning backdrop for an afternoon of sublime food and a summer’s day walk.
I was joined for lunch by a friend of mine, who is the assistant manager of the house. Worried the weather wouldn’t hold up following thunderstorm threats, we were pleasantly surprised that the sun was out all day. I was given a brief tour of the library and drawing rooms before sitting in the courtyard at the back of the house. We had a bottle of prosecco and selection of complimentary nuts, olives and hors d’oeuvres while we ordered our lunch. We took a small wander around the grounds before being seated inside to enjoy our food.
For starters I ordered the white chicken and sage terrine with onion sable and thai picked shallots. It was absolutely delicious and I would have happily eaten it for my mains too! My friend opted for the carpaccio of beef fillet with pickled girolle mushrooms and truffle ice cream. It too, looked exquisite!
My friend ordered the Moroccan spiced lamb with fennel, apricot compote and fondant potato for mains, while I opted for the pan-fried hake fillet with smoked tomato chutney, courgette ribbons and green gazpacho sauce. I tried a bit of the lamb and it was as tender and flavourful as you’d like. My fish was very soft and was eaten without the use of a knife. Perfect.
We decided to split two desserts as we both wanted the same two. So we ordered the strawberry parfait and strawberry jelly with strawberry sorbet and basil ice cream ripple, along with the valrhona chocolate fondant with a caramel centre with lemon ice cream and lemon meringue. The gooeyness of the caramel centre of the chocolate fondant was very rich so I’m glad I didn’t eat a whole one of those. The strawberry parfait was very refreshing and absolutely perfect for a summer’s afternoon.
The staff were attentive to us and were very friendly; despite being there with a member of staff, I felt they treated us in the same way as other people in the restaurant, remaining professional throughout. My only suggestion for improvement would be to have some music playing during lunch. As the dining room was quite large, and with only 4 tables in use, the room was slightly too quiet. Some soft playing classical music would have completed the atmosphere and complimented lunch perfectly. Once we’d finished our drinks, we walked off our food with an hours long walk around the grounds of the hotel and the neighbouring fields. The views were spectacular and everything about Hartwell House is so photogenic; stunning pictures were taken with little effort.
If you ever find yourself in the area, a visit to Hartwell House is a must! Even if it is to go for a quiet coffee and a spot of croquet with a walk around the grounds, it is a perfect backdrop for any summers day.
Following lunch I was catapulted back to my tender years as we enjoyed a game of bowling and then tummy laughed our way through the new Minions film, along with a fellow audience who averaged no more than 7 years old.
Holiday mode is officially over. I am back to work with the worst Monday post-holiday blues ever. Gutted.
GET ME BACK TO GREECE! *sobs*