Weekend food review: Hatton Court Hotel
IN another life, many years ago, I had my wedding reception at Hatton Court and I still remember those views.
Now, while much else has changed, the views still take your breath away, especially as the evening sky changes and the fiery red hues of sunset stretch as far as the eye can see.
Set on the hill above Upton St Leonards, near Gloucester, it’s a stunning location. The driveway sweeps down past ancient trees to reveal a beautiful building with terraces and gardens.
New head chef Gary Burns has made his mark with fresh menus and a determination to earn Hatton rosettes and recognition.
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His style is fresh and simple classic modern British using seasonal produce and sourcing locally as much as possible.
The a la carte is £35 and the chef’s daily menu, £25 and although the bar is cosy and comfortable, we couldn’t wait to go through to the Tara restaurant, where big windows make the most of the views.
It’s a relaxing atmosphere with chandeliers and subdued lighting and decor in natural, earthy hues.
There was a pleasing hum of conversation and a mixture of groups and couples enjoying dinner.
We chose from the new a la carte menu and the amuse bouche soon arrived – ham hock on deliciously crisp spiced bread. We were brought slices of onion bread and tomato bread too, which to be honest would have been much better warm.
To start we chose the lobster broth and the scallops. The broth was well-seasoned with chunks of salmon, white fish and baby vegetables. The scallops were a delicately flavoured dish, served with a shell full of cauliflower puree and little cubes of black pudding,
For mains, we picked beef and the Gressingham duck. Both dishes were attractively served – the duck on a big square plate and the beef, cooked in three different ways, was arranged on an oblong plate with cabbage and baby carrots.
Both were substantial dishes. There was plenty of slightly pink duck, served with spinach, potato puree and a delicious duck and mushroom stew.
The beef was an interesting mix of mini shepherd’s pie, a crumbed ball of shin beef and two thick tender fillets. It was a little too heavy on meat if anything, and a small amount of well-seasoned cabbage and a couple of carrots was the only light relief. A little more veg and some sauce would have made it a perfect meal for me.
For dessert we chose banana creme brulee and a pudding called Taste of Lemon. The brulee was one of the best, a nice wide dish with plenty of crunchy topping and a creamy concoction underneath.
The lemon dessert looked like a sweet shop, a large square dish full of sweet treats with lovely sharp little lemon meringue pies, mini squares of lemon drizzle sponge, a lemon fool and shortbread. The only disappointment was the lemon drizzle, which could have done with much more drizzle. But it was a minor niggle, the food was good, the service spot on and the views just splendid. Joyce Matthews
Location: Upton St Leonards, Gloucester
Food: Classic modern British
Price: A la carte, £35; chef's menu, £25; lunch, £12 for two courses
Contact: Hatton Court Hotel