Featured Restaurant: The Bedford Arms

22nd March 2019

Chenies • Rickmansworth • WD3 6EQ • 01923 283301

Reviewed by Jill Glenn

This classic country house hotel does have a formal dining room, but we’re eating in the welcoming bar area, which is artfully designed and decorated with a mixture of wood, leather, bricks, tiled floors and old textiles. What’s not to like? The ambience is smart, sophisticated and relaxed all at once…

Around me, from almost every table, I hear snippets of Brexit-based conversations; it’s the night of the House of Commons vote on no-deal, excitement is in the air, and I’m definitely having a better time of it than Theresa May.

I start with Red Wine Poached Pear with Crumbled Stilton, Dressed Salad, Celery & Candied Walnuts. Any combination of pear, cheese and nuts always wins my vote, and this is an excellent example; the pear is extremely red, and juicy, and my only reservation is the amount of celery (I’m not a fan) – I overlooked it on the description and am surprised by the amount on the plate; nevertheless, it turns out to be very fresh and flavoursome, and earns its right to be there. There’s rich texture from the walnuts, and the Stilton is very mellow.

My guest has opted for Tempura King Prawns with Sweet Chilli Dip & Asian Salad. The prawns have very good mouth-feel; the coating is light and crispy (‘a good tempura,’ she says, ‘with plenty of air in it’) and there’s just the right level of chilli hit in the dip to balance the piquancy of the salad dressing.

My main course is Rump of Lamb, Spiced Aubergine Purée, Celeriac Lamb Belly Gratin & Chimichurri Sauce. This is a very meat-heavy offering – indeed, I might have liked to be alerted to the availability of the vegetable side dishes (yes, yes, I know… I was too busy fretting about Brexit; I didn’t have my mind fully on the matter in hand) – but it’s absolutely delicious. The lamb is pink-perfect, and so tender. The purée is creamy and beautifully seasoned; it enhances the meat brilliantly, as does the garlicky Chimichurri Sauce. This is possibly the best lamb I’ve ever had. I’d sell my grandmother for food like this, I mutter, much to the waitress’s horror.

Meanwhile, my companion is equally, enamoured with her Miso Salmon Fillet, Charred Spring Onion, Sprouting Broccoli, Sesame Soba Noodles & Seaweed Mayo. The salmon is dark with the miso glaze, which has infused the entire piece, taking away the oiliness, without making the salmon dry. The noodles integrate perfectly. It’s all strongly flavoured, but finds favour for that, and the broccoli balances out the dish well.

From the day’s Specials, my guest picks Maple and Pecan Tart with Salted Caramel and Clotted Cream. The tart is deliciously thick, with a light pastry layer, then a thick pecan-based filling, then a maple glaze and halved pecans. This is ten-out-of-ten stuff, beautifully made and not too sweet. Clotted cream is the perfect textural foil, and the rich little dabs of salted caramel are the pièce de résistance.

I’ve opted for the Rhubarb Cheesecake and Poached Rhubarb. This is something of a leap of faith; I don’t really like cheesecake… but I adore rhubarb, and don’t think it makes an appearance often enough. Fortunately, my risk pays off. This cheesecake has the texture almost of mousse; it’s so light and lovely: intensely fruity. The poached rhubarb has great tartness and texture, although there’s only one piece, and I could certainly have hoovered up more. The little dots of sauce on the plate add a wonderful zing.

This has been an evening to remember. Theresa May won’t be forgetting it in a hurry, either...

STARTERS: £6.75-£7.95 • MAINS: £9.25-£30.95

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