Good evening everyone! It's the 1st of October! How can this be?! I love the month of October it is when the countryside comes alive with the colours of Autumn and the air begins to turn crisp and slightly chilly. Also, it means that I can walk around in my wooly jumper and scarf 24/7 without getting strange looks and feeling rather out-of-season!
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to attend and review the lunch menu at the glorious Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa in The New Forest, Hampshire.
Now, if you know me at all, you'll know that I love food. Quite frankly, the way to my heart is probably by giving me food! So, it is safe to say I was beaming from ear to ear when I received the invitation. I had never been to the luxury 5 star hotel before but I had heard great things to say the least. Kindly, I was able to bring along a guest with me and I knew my mother absolutely loves Chewton Glen having been a handful of times before, but never for lunch or for a girl's day out! And so, the opportunity was made even more special by being able to share it with her.
Some of you may know from previous blog posts that, my mother is my right-hand-man to say the least! She is not only chief organiser but she is chief wrapper, packer and sender of the magazines and everything in between. I couldn't do it all without her and that is a fact. I have been forbidden from writing the envelopes because my writing isn't up to standard and so she has taken this job on, all by herself. Wrapping and packaging magazines whilst watching Emmerdale of Coronation Street is becoming a favourite pastime of hers. However, all that being said, I don't often find the time to express my appreciation for all that she does for me and for the business. I think in many walks of life, we are all guilty of this. It was also her 50th birthday only a week before and so it was the perfect excuse to spend some time together and treat her to a delicious lunch she wouldn't soon forget.
As the day arrived, we couldn't have been more blessed with the weather. It was the perfect Autumn day with glorious clear blue skies and that crisp autumnal feel in the air. The New Forest isn't too far down the road for us and so it was an easy and comfortable drive. We were both intrigued to explore the wonders that the hotel had to offer. Whilst I have now been lucky enough to review a number of locations either for a meal or for the night, it is still a hugely nerve-racking experience. What if they don't know I am coming? What if it's not been arranged? Terrifying! However once we arrived, we were greeted by the reception staff who happily welcomed us to the Estate and ushered us towards the The Dining Room where the staff were waiting for us.
From the moment we stepped foot into the grand entrance doors of Chewton Glen, we were wowed by the interior design. It's a beautiful mix between traditional country and luxury modern design. The two compliment each other perfectly. The Dining Room was a gorgeous light, open and welcoming place to dine, with tables overlooking exquisite views of the grounds.
With two delicious menus to choose from; The Estate Menu (click for a sample) and the A La Carte Menu (click for a sample), we were utterly spoilt for choice.
The Estate menu has been designed to pay homage to the abundance of delicious produce that is grown in-house on the Estate itself. It reflects beautifully the changing of the seasons using a variety of produce available at that time, meaning that this will change throughout the year! A brilliant excuse for return visits!
We also had to have a little peek at the famous wine list which was extensive to say the least! There is something fascinating, I find, about looking at the huge variety of wines available - over 1900 in this case! The most expensive one we saw was a bottle of 2010 Merlot for £2400!! Can you imagine?
Starters first, we both ordered the Soup Of The Day from the A La Carte Menu which we were told was Butternut Squash infused with Truffle Oil. Wow or what?! However before we got started, a member of the restaurant team were on hand to offer their recommendations of wine to accompany the food. Firstly, he recommended a white wine from Greece which was designed to compliment the flavours within the soup whilst being light and not too heavy. I had never really taken the advice of the wine recommendations before, but we thought with food so exquisite as this, we ought to do it properly and so we agreed to take his advice.
It was the perfect combination. The flavours within the soup and the wine complimented each other perfectly. With the rich, warm and autumnal flavours from a spoonful of soup followed by the light, crisp and fruity flavours from the wine, it truly was the perfect combination.
We were both in awe with the soup. The truffle oil was an incredible addition, one which I would never have thought of. Delicious.
Onto the main course.
My eyes lit up as I spotted venison on the menu as this is my absolute favourite and I knew that if the starter was anything to go by, it would most probably be the best venison I had ever tasted. Like mother and daughter, we ordered the same again! Although, I was torn between the Chewton Glen Cottage Pie as I had been told this was incredible! However, the venison won my vote (this time!). I think it is important to point out that this wasn't just any old venison. It was locally sourced and served with winter squash, hazelnut and choucroute.
With a new and totally different dish, came a totally different wine recommendation by our expert. Now, I am not one for red wine... I think it is an acquired taste, however I was keen to take the advice and give it a try with the venison. You could say I was feeling brave and inspired!
The mains arrived and my goodness, what a treat! It looked so mouth-wateringly good!
A real fine-dining masterpiece... almost too good to touch! We ordered a couple of side dishes to accompany the mains; mashed Bintje potatoes, mange tout and sugar snaps in Rose Harrissa and portion of the most delicious red cabbage. The whole combination was a complete flavour sensation. The hazelnuts went with the venison so perfectly and the winter squash was so delicious.
I don't think you could achieve a more autumnal looking plate of food if you tried? The colours and flavours were the epitome of Autumn. I am not sure I can really describe to you how excellent this dish was, you really ought to try it for yourself.
The wine went surprisingly well (for me) with the dish. Albeit, a little heavy for my liking, the rich flavours paired with the hearty woodland flavours of the venison and the dish as a whole worked very well. As someone who doesn't normally drink red wine, I was impressed and enjoyed the combination.
Mains done and dusted with not a crumb left on each of our plates, we needed a little break before dessert. We decided to take a little stroll around the grounds out the back of the restaurant whilst we let our food go down to make room for the sweet course
I had spotted an idyllic looking walkway from our table by the window and was keen to explore a little further.
There is over 130 acres of magnificent woodland, gardens and parkland at Chewton Glen which extends right to the edge of the New Forest National Park. There are over 50 working bee hives , cared for by Bee Keeper, Rob Oliver and Estate Manager, Darren Venables.
Plus the most wonderful Walled Kitchen Garden and Nursery where a vast array of vegetables, fruit, herbs and edible flowers are harvested each year and used within the various dishes (as mentioned earlier). Both mum and I agreed that is is excellent to see the Estate growing their own produce and allowing their guests to view the gardens, allowing us to see exactly where some of what we are eating has come from. It's responsible and sustainable! Really reassuring
Heading back into The Dining Room, it was time for dessert. Knowing that our Chewton Glen experience was coming to an end was slightly sad however we both agreed that we would be returning for more, without doubt!
We vowed at this point, to order different desserts and so I ordered the Baked Cheesecake with Beaulieu Strawberries and Lemon Verbena Sorbet from the Estate Menu whilst Mum ordered the selection of cheeses from the trolley.
I think it is safe to say we were both entirely satisfied with our choices.
Once we had finished our desserts it was time to head home but not before we had a little look around. The hotel is to die for and the spa well, that is a whole separate story! The entire hotel has such a unique character and we both felt hugely lucky to have experienced it.
I honestly don't think I could find something negative to say about our lunch at Chewton Glen it was truly delicious. I must thank Head Chef Simon Addison, Executive Head Chef Luke Matthews and his hugely talented team for producing such unforgettably tasty dishes. They really were wonderful and unlike anything else I have ever tasted. The quality of both the food and the service was out of this world and I would highly recommend Chewton Glen's lunch menu to anyone in a heartbeat.
I have been raving about the experience and shouting from the rooftops about Chewton Glen since our visit and I really cannot wait to go back. Afternoon tea anyone?
Last but not least, it wouldn't be a trip to the New Forest without seeing some New Forest ponies would it?
Until next time...
Lots of love,