Cliveden House is one of those hotels which has so much going on, when you’re staying there you don’t need to leave. Walking around the grounds, of which there are 376 acres of National Trust parkland, or using the spa, which has just been massively renovated, will keep you going for a day or three.
During a cheeky one nighter stay, eating-wise, you’ve got the more casual Astor grill (read that review here) or the fine dining restaurant in the main house, both of which are headed up by AndrÃ© Garrett.
The latter is a stunner of a dining room. It’s all candlelight, glass chandeliers, plush carpet and velvet armchairs. A prettier room I’m yet to have dinner in.
Seven courses with coffee and bonbons comes in at Â£97.50 with an optional wine pairing for an extra Â£75 per person. It’s not exactly Whimpy prices but when you’re sitting in such opulence it’s understandable.
We kick off with a cheese custard, all rich and comforting, and a girolle cream. Both are like a cuddle. Our first dish is a simple salad of Portland crab, avocado and lemon purÃ©e. The lemon is super bitter but combined with the sweet crab it’s the perfect blend of flavours.
Masse foie gras comes with nashi pear and thin discs of kohlrabi – both are light and delicate, cutting through the fattiness of the foie. Little bundles of oat granola add sweetness and texture.
Our favourite dish is the roasted fillet of turbot – you can’t really beat turbot to be fair. Here, the borage veloute, a herb which can often be overpowering, is nothing but complimentary. Lick-the-plate-clean worthy I’d say.
Fallow deer is locally stalked showing AndrÃ© is making the most of his surroundings. It’s a mighty fine piece of meat with some accompanying blackberries for added zing. Even finer is a side of boulangÃ¨re potatoes. The animal’s leg meat, slow cooked, sits below tiny circles of crispy potatoes generously sprinkled with thyme. Gorgeous.
Cheese is next which is most unusual; a Waldorf salad with Barkham blue. The cheese itself is lush but I find the celery, walnuts and Granny Smith slices all a bit dry. Call me old fashioned but I’d rather have cheese and crackers.
Dessert is a sexy little thing; aerated chocolate, a thick ganache, Moroccan mint ice cream and some chocolate crumble all in the shape of a Mille-feuille. It’s so light I half expect it to float away.
Cliveden House is such an elegant and special place to have dinner, whether you’re staying or not, and I really am surprised it didn’t receive a Michelin star this year. It’s not just the high level of cooking we fell in love with but the whole experience – it’s pure luxury.
Would we go back? Yes
We dined as guests of the restaurant