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Saturday, 04 April 2020
NESTLED in the village of Hambleden — so familiar as a filming location for the likes of Midsomer Murders, The Vicar of Dibley and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang — the Stag and Huntsman is a true English gem, writes Karen French.
On entering the restaurant we were greeted by general manager Andrew Berridge and his team.
It was early on a Saturday evening and guests were arriving to be seated in the dining rooms that were decorated with fresh flowers and candles on every table. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly.
Andrew was so enthusiastic and proud of the changes that had taken place over the past year and eagerly updated us with the new winning wine menu.
They had taken the wine list from 25 varieties to 75 — 22 of which are sourced locally from Chiltern Valley, Oaken Grove and Wallingford wineries.
Andrew suggested we taste the Orange wine — a style of wine that has spent time in contact with the grape skins. A fabulously deep intense flavour that tingles on your palate, I recommend you try a glass.
Andrew and head executive chef Marius Pretorius have also created an amazing menu.
I chose the Leagram Organic goat’s curd, with sumac, heritage tomato and hazelnut, accompanied by a basil sorbet quenelle.
Warm and lightly torched, yielding an explosion of flavours, this dish was a true delight.
My dining companion David chose the smoked duck “ham” pancetta, asparagus, plum and garlic — such a fabulous infusion of flavours.
For our main I chose the pan-fried sea bass, squid ink risotto and butternut squash.
The fish was cooked to perfection, laid on a bed of perfectly seasoned risotto with squid ink, accompanied by a glass of Bacchus reserve 2013 white wine from Oaken Grove in Fawley.
David chose the fillet steak with vine-roasted cherry tomatoes, a seasonal side of vegetables that included beetroot, fennel and kohlrabi, paired with an Oxford Regatta red from Brightwell, Wallingford.
For our dessert we decided to share as we were so full from the amazing starters and mains. Andrew recommended we try the lavender-infused panna cotta.
Wow, so fresh and light with a pleasing fragrance — firstly the lavender from their gardens and then you are through to a smooth panna cotta with a pistachio crumb base. Such a fabulous and refreshing note to end on.
Andrew, Marius, Ivea, Stephen and Carl made us so welcome and I would highly recommend the Stag and Huntsman for an amazing dining experience for all.
Additionally there are eight luxurious rooms that make an ideal country retreat.
Call Andrew and his team on (01491) 571227 to book.
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