Thursday, 19 October 2017

Pub-turned-hotel's food tastes as good as it looks

Pub-turned-hotel's food tastes as good as it looks

WHATEVER you think about pubs being turned into gastro eateries or bijou boutique hotels, you have to applaud the changes that have been made to the former Hurley local, the Red Lion, on Henley Road, writes Debra Aspinall.

The 18th century inn is now the chic, stylish, boutique Hurley House Hotel, unrecognisable from its former incarnation after a refurbishment and reinvention costing upwards of £4.5 million.

The façade of the pub remains but the interior decor is now contemporary and cosy, with lovely muted fabrics, exposed wooden beams and brickwork, comfy seating areas and exuding the style of an upmarket country club.

There are 10 en suite rooms here, but we visited to try the food in their beautifully decorated and cleverly-lit restaurant. It’s fair to say we were very impressed.

At the stove is the talented chef Michael Chapman, formerly head chef of Michelin-starred the Royal Oak at Paley Street.

The seasonally-changing menu features locally-sourced ingredients from top local producers, with seafood delivered daily from Brixham boats.

After perusing the exciting menu, the à la carte and the fixed price set menu (£19 for two courses and £25 for three) we made our choices and sat back in our fireside chairs to enjoy a rich glass of Merlot chosen by the helpful bar manager.

We were tempted by the wild Berkshire mallard and partridge terrine with pickled mushrooms and quince (£8.50) and the barbecued heritage carrot with burnt carrot purée, Innis goat’s curd, hazelnut and mustard leaf (£6) for our starters, but chose chicken liver parfait with pear chutney and brioche (£7) and winter chanterelle tortellini with roast butternut, chestnuts and winter truffle (£12), which our waitress confided was her favourite.

The parfait was rich, creamy and unbelievably smooth. So much flavour packed into a perfect quenelle. The tortellini dish, meanwhile, was simply divine. The combination of three of my favourite ingredients and the added punch of the truffle took it to a whole new level of pasta dishes.

Main courses on the à la carte included celeriac agnolotti with baby leeks, black winter truffle and parmesan (£19) and a more hearty-sounding Windsor Estate roe deer with potato terrine, Jerusalem artichoke and sprout tops (£26) and a fillet of Herefordshire beef with Jacob’s Ladder, brassicas and onions (£26).

We chose the Cornish halibut with caramelised cauliflower, fregola, Granny Smith apple and burnt butter (£28) and, from the fixed price menu, Windsor Estate pheasant, parsley root and brown lentils.

The pheasant was perfectly cooked and the rustic trimmings made it the perfect warming winter lunch dish.

The halibut (my choice) was fabulous. A plump portion of my favourite fish, this was complemented beautifully by the cauliflower purée and the fregola (a bead-sized pasta), which was a first for me.

We really shouldn’t have had room for dessert, but the chocolate mousse with salted caramel, chocolate brownie and peanut ice-cream sounded too delicious to resist. And it was.

The Cambridge burnt cream with calamansi, mango and lemon chosen by my dining buddy turned out to be this restaurant’s take on a crème brûlée. Yummy.

Hurley House Hotel is clearly a great addition to the local dining scene and should prove an enticing bolt-hole for locals and Londoners alike wanting a night of elegance and fine food in a boutique hotel.

Book your table now before too many people hear about this new local gem.

Wine and Dine

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