It doesn’t get more secluded than The Whitebrook in Monmouth, Wales – well I’m sure it does but you really do feel in the middle of nowhere. There’s no wifi (they say they have it but good luck getting a connection) and there’s certainly no phone signal. With a view from our room of the Wye Valley opposite, a night at this Michelin starred restaurant with rooms really is a good excuse to disconnect from the outside world.
As we unpack in our modest room (number 3) some freshly baked Welsh cakes arrive which is a lovely treat. The rooms are fairly basic but clean and comfortable and they’re finished to a high standard. Most importantly, the bed is of luxurious quality. I now compare all beds to those at any Soho House hotel and this was pretty much identical.
Before dinner we take a drive to nearby Tintern and admire the remains of the abbey. Once back we take a walk through the forest that sits just behind the Whitebrook. It’s all muddy paths, creaky wooden bridges and babbling brooks – totally tranquil and beautiful.
The restaurant is headed up by Chris Harrod whose food has recently won him 4 AA rosettes and in the top 50 UK restaurants in The Good Food Guide. For dinner it’s tasting menus only at £67 or £122 with matching wines.
The food reminds me of The Sportsman, Kent in the fact it is unpretentious and concentrates on flavour. Dishes like Mugwort smoked beetroot (in a variety of colours), which comes with crumbly black pudding from nearby Trealy Farm, and an Orkney scallop with turnip and pearl barley are moreish flavour combinations.
A gooey Burford Brown hen yolk and valley mushrooms comes with a generous grating of Wiltshire truffle to add even more indulgence. Braised monkfish tail sits underneath a light bubble of sauce alongside slices of dainty squash. Delicate flavours that really work together.
Our standout dish is the Huntsham Farm suckling pig due to the quality of the pork. The little cutlet, with its soft fat and crisp exterior, is bone suckingly good. I’m all for inventive and whacky food but sometimes you just want to eat something delicious – this is certainly that.
Sweet things perfectly segway from milk ice cream, to violet mousse (that tastes exactly like Parma Violets) to a light-as-anything raspberry mousse with chocolate crumb. As far as tasting menus go, it’s the most balanced one I’ve come across.
The joys of the kitchen carry on the following day. For breakfast (included in the price), a fry up is a reminder of their ability to source the very best ingredients; the sausage has just the right amount of grease. Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs is a lighter choice. Even the mini pastries, freshly baked, are great.
A night at The Whitebrook is a real escape, especially if you’re coming from London; with its remote location it has got the whole package. But it’s the food that makes the whole thing really worthwhile. That man can seriously cook.
Would we go back? Yes.
We dined and stayed as guests of The Whitebrook