Food Review: Wellington wows

Lyndsey McGeary dines like a princess at the historic Wynyard Hall…

I like to think I’m pretty cool. You know, not the sort to get carried away with excitement?

But I’ll let you into a secret – I have this thing about gravelled driveways. That unmistakeable sound of stones crunching underneath the tyres as you pull up outside the most elegant, historic country house hotel awakens my inner princess.

So, when my husband suggested dinner at the two AA rosette restaurant, The Wellington, I didn’t need asking twice.

Situated inside the four-star Wynyard Hall hotel, in 150 acres of historical landscape, The Wellington really is the destination of choice for romantic meals or casual dining.

It’s hard to believe a place so stunning is located just on our doorstep, easily accessible by taxi or by car. The gardens alone are a leading visitor attraction – throw in an exquisite dining room and I’m sold!

With three menus to choose from – à la carte, all day dining (served from noon until 9.30pm) and a three-course set menu available at lunch and dinner for up to £35 per person – our only problem was deciding just what to eat.

We took a seat in the magnificent library with a gin and tonic and perused the menus, very leisurely. I was very tempted by the North Sea Battered Cod & Chips at £13.50 from the all-day menu, but there were so many “wants” on the à la carte that I couldn’t resist choosing from it.

We were shown to our table in the most stunning dining room I have ever seen.

With its vast ceiling height and elegant furnishings, it really felt luxurious.

We were then presented with a complimentary amuse-bouche of artichoke velouté, accompanied by beautiful bread rolls and a variety of butters. The seaweed butter was divine, especially combined with the tiny thin shot glass of velouté. Losing all pretensions of class at this point, I whispered to my husband, “If I could fit my bread in the glass, I’d dip it in!”

Crispy pig cheek was my choice of starter, accompanied by Wynyard garden pumpkin puree (at £7.50). My husband chose the shellfish soup with langoustine, sea kale and caviar (£13.50).

He definitely went for the “showboating” option, as the bisque itself was poured over the seafood at the table, making the dish even more elegant. These delicious starters were paired beautifully with a Mount Holdsworth New Zealand sauvignon blanc at £8.50 per 175ml glass.

The Elia contemporary cutlery used in the restaurant was a thing of beauty in itself and a joy to hold, although the crockery had an unusual texture which made any scraping of the bowl audible, and a big no-no!

For main course my husband chose the steamed wild halibut with oxtail, chanterelles, truffle and celeriac at £18.50.

This meaty fish did not disappoint. For me, there was venison on the menu.

And when there’s venison, I cannot be deterred from it. Served with confit onions, blue cheese, pumpkin seeds and a date purée, it was an exceptional winter dish.

This was easily washed down with a Chateau Montaiguillon St Emilion French Bordeaux at £8.30 for a 125ml glass.

The second complimentary amuse-bouche of the evening was a small dessert in the form of a blood orange choux bun with cream. It was unusual and beautiful and gave a little hint of the main dessert treats we were in for next.

The dessert choice was relatively limited, which helpfully simplified our decisions.

For me, the warm honey cake with honey and pear ripple sounded like just the thing to finish off a meaty meal. It was lovely and sweet.

My husband selected the toffee apple parfait with caramelised puff pastry and a warm cinnamon doughnut. It had a custardy ice cream which he could not get enough of. He simply did not want it to end!

Declining any coffee or tea, we decided to head out into the grounds for a walk while waiting for our taxi to collect us. There was so much beauty in those grounds, even after dark.

But within a few short minutes our carriage pulled up onto the gravelled driveway to collect us, and I was giddy all over again…