Featured Restaurant: Shendish Manor

25th August 2017

London Road • Apsley • HP3 OAA • 01442 232220

Reviewed by Alan Cox

You could quite easily drive past the entrance to Shendish Manor and not even realise. Hidden away down a discreet lane, its setting is certainly picturesque – particularly on a lovely summer’s evening – with its well-kept gardens and rolling parkland giving an air of grandeur…

The place is a hive of activity when we arrive, with a wedding reception in the function room already in full swing, and with guests spilling out into the reception area. Thankfully the large and bright looking Orangery Restaurant, tucked at the back of the hotel, has a calmer feel about it.

With full length windows and doors along two sides, all overlooking the grounds, it has an airy elegance. Linen napkins add a touch of class to the simple table settings. I notice that staff here are very young.
The set price menu (two or three courses) and a brief wine list, keep everything quite straightforward.

I start with the unusual sounding Montgomery Jack and Parmesan Cheese Brûlée, which arrives quite promptly. I’m expecting a light and velvety affair with a blow-torched crispy top – rather like its sweet equivalent. Served chilled, this has a more anaemic appearance and solid consistency. It has a good strong cheesy taste, but is rather more cloying than creamy.

It contrast, my wife’s Salmon Gravlax with Avocado Purée, Grapefruit and Fennel Salad and garnished with Salmon Caviar is light, fresh and summery. The distinct licorice piquancy of the fennel adds an interesting twist to this refreshing starter.

Standing to attention in the centre of my main course is a triangle of fondant potato, complementing my chosen Pan Roasted Lamb Rump, served with Tender Steam Broccoli, Caramelised Shallot, Celeriac Puree and a Red Wine Jus. With two generous pieces of Lamb (cooked pink as requested), this is a neatly presented and well-cooked dish, full of flavour.

Oven baked Chicken Breast, Buttered Curly Kale with Carrot Purée, Parmesan and Thyme Gnocchi and topped with mustard and tarragon cream sauce is my wife’s choice. And she had nothing but praise for this ‘delicious’ dish, particularly enjoying the herby gnocchi as an alternative to potatoes.

Both main courses are impressive, but our glasses of Tempranillo less so: the wine is disappointingly thin-bodied.

We ask for a pause in the proceedings before dessert, as the pace of the meal is a little on the rapid side.

Coconut and Lime Panna-cotta, Mango Salsa, Mango Coulis and a Tuille biscuit for my wife, and the ‘chef’s special’ Apple Ginger and Vanilla Cheesecake served with Apple Purée and Vanilla Ice Cream for myself.

I’m rather taken aback by the blank look on waiter’s face when I ask for a glass of dessert wine. He obviously has no idea what this is. Even more surprising is that a hotel of this calibre doesn’t serve any either.
Both desserts are well presented, but I find the cheesecake rather bland, with only the slightest trace of ginger. This needs a braver hand in the kitchen to really allow the flavours to sing.

In complete contrast, the Panna-cotta dessert (with a perfect PC wobble) is really zingy. With an interesting combination of tastes, particularly the addition of the basil ice cream, this is a memorable conclusion.
Dining at Shendish Manor is undoubtedly good value for money, but I feel the experience lacked a little TLC around the edges: a case of the sum of the parts being less than the whole.

TWO COURSES: £24.45 • THREE COURSES: £29.95 HOUSE WINE: £18.00

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