Featured Restaurant: Hawtrey's

23rd February 2018

The Barn Hotel • West End Road • Ruislip • 01895 636057

Reviewed by Alan Cox

Peace and tranquillity reign in this regally elegant mahogany-panelled dining room. With the brocade swags and tails, polished silver cutlery, starched linen tablecloths and sparkling glasses glinting under the crystal chandeliers, it's like stepping into another, grander world.

The ambience is unapologetically formal (assisted by the dulcet tones of baroque music), although the highly personable maître d' elevates any potential solemnity with his warmth and humour. There are three menus on offer; a reasonably priced set menu, an à la carte and the Chef’s tasting menu. While we deliberate over our aperitifs, we're treated to a plate of tiny canapés – dinky little pastry cases filled with an assortment of delicious fillings.

It’s the tasting menu we choose – full of so many lovely sounding dishes – but we forgo the wine pairing for each course, in favour of our own choice.

Arriving first, and served in an elegant white bowl, is a Butternut Squash Velouté. Our waiter carefully pours this golden silky smooth soup, unfused with truffle oil, over little diced cubes of squash and toasted pumpkin seeds. Piping hot, it is velvety, rich and delicious. Our chosen glasses of a dry Chenin Blanc and a crisp Riesling complement both the Velouté, and the next course, a Pan Fried Scallop. Resting proudly on a really sweet pea purée and garnished with micro herbs, this succulent battered beauty, topped with a sliver of crispy pancetta, is just perfection on a plate.

An Australian Shiraz for me and an English Pinot Noir for my wife both make excellent companions for course three, Slow Roasted Loin of Venison – another faultless display of culinary skill from the chef. The three beautifully tender tiny medallions, paired with forest mushrooms and a parsnip purée, look stunning. The mushrooms, in a sticky fruity sauce with notes of sweet cherry, never overpower the gamy flavours of the venison. I love this.

Everything about our evening is well judged. The pace is leisurely and calm – a pleasant escape from the frantic pace of everyday life, and allowing a perfect pause between each stop on our culinary journey.

And for our next destination, there's the tricky choice of lamb or fish. I tuck into Roasted Rack of Lamb with a herb and pistachio crust and served with couscous, red capsicums, yoghurt and a jug of rich and dark minty sauce for pouring. It's another great dish, packing a punch in the flavour stakes and artistically plated. My wife chooses the Pan Seared Tuna served with honey glazed beetroot, baby vegetables and a lemongrass cream. Sitting atop a medley of perfectly cooked vegetables, the meaty, yet soft tuna just melts in the mouth, with the lemongrass sauce lending a slightly oriental twist.

And so onto sweeter things… first, a palate-cleansing pre-dessert – a light, zingy and refreshing Mango and Passion Fruit sorbet, served in an elegant tall stemmed glass. This is followed by a colourful Summer Berries Bavarois for my wife and a selection of cheese and biscuits with homemade chutney, along with a fine glass of Cockburn’s port, for me.

This is another extravagant and impressive meal from a restaurant whose culinary standards and attention to detail never fail to impress.

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