Restaurant review: Hallmark Hotel, Gloucester
Gloucester's ski slope is a landmark we often look for while walking on the surrounding hills and now we've discovered a reason to drive up to the doorstep. And it has nothing to do with skiing.
The Hallmark Hotel sits just opposite the entrance on Robinswood Hill, and to be honest, it hadn't even crossed our radar. Once the Ramada, some
£4 million has been spent on refurbishment over the past few years to develop it into a luxury hotel and spa.
The result is a sophisticated, stylish operation popular with corporate clients but with plenty to offer local diners.
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There's a relaxed, friendly buzz about the place and service is faultless – you can tell they're used to dealing with people on a busy schedule.
But at the same time you feel unhurried and able to wind down.
The Brasserie, with its soft lighting and muted plum and mustard decor, is attractive and spacious with nightlights and flowers on each table and plenty of pictures. There's a great mix of fish, meat and pasta dishes on the menu, from £8.95 to £18.50.
Starters range from traditional prawn cocktail, £5.75, to terrine of duck, £6.95 and grilled seafood in garlic butter, £8.95.
You could even have fresh mussels, £7.95 as a starter or £12.50 as a main.
After whetting our appetites on some lovely warm bread and pesto, we tried the warm duck salad and a starter from the daily specials menu, a creamed cheese, smoked salmon and savoury pancake, both £6.95.
The duck looked stunning, in a deep bowl of dramatic black and drizzled with a pungent hoi sin and sweet chilli sauce. The pancake was a surprise – it was cold for a start, laid out flat with a big swirl of tasty salmon mousse, again beautifully presented.
For mains, we chose comfort food – slow roast shoulder of lamb, £16.50 and marinated belly pork, £15.25, although we were tempted by the most popular item on the menu – pan fried chicken and chorizo with chunky chips, £12.50.
The lamb looked stunning, on a large wooden platter, with a stack of neatly arranged crunchy chunky chips, a mini Kilner jar of mint sauce, a jug of rosemary gravy and a chunk of delicious tender lamb that fell off the bone.
A winner from start to finish.
The pork was tender but the whole dish was slightly disappointing – especially when you're sitting opposite that lamb.
It simply lacked flavour. It promised much with braised cabbage, potato rosti, a glaze of Chinese five spices and plum sauce, but the flavours needed much more depth.
I stole some of the rosemary gravy and the whole dish perked up immediately.
For dessert, the vanilla panacotta with a mixed berry compote, £5.25, looked and tasted beautiful and warm sweet pancakes, £5.95, were a stylish take on an old favourite with individual mini jugs of lemon and orange to pour over.
With coffee and shortcake to finish, we left impressed and surprised that we hadn't discovered the place sooner.