Review: Hambleton Hall, Oakham

Hambleton Hall

Hambleton Hall

Fine dining has evolved a lot. And so it’s lovely sometimes to rock up at a country house hotel in the middle of nowhere, be settled by the fire and brought champagne, then taken through to a high-ceilinged dining room, seated at a white linen clad table, and served superb food and good wine by a highly polished but very friendly team of pros.

There’s no punchline, that’s just what Hambleton Hall has been doing for years, and is still doing brilliantly by my reckoning. Of course, it helped that the temperature outside was -5, that there was snow blanketing the fields and the lane we had to pad down with torches from our nearby pub B&B was treacherous with giant lake-sized puddles. That just made the arrival more cosy. Shout out to the Finch’s Arms; comfy rooms and good breakfast, if you can’t afford to splurge on a room at the Hall!

Smoked eel terrine

Smoked eel terrine

Getting back to dinner. Maureen’s starter was a terrine of beetroot and smoked eel, with a scoop of delightfully creamy horseradish sorbet. The terrine was a triumph, two flavours that go incredibly well together given over in a generous quantity that was as light as it was moreish. My starter, a fricasse of morels with a poached egg set on a punky garlic sauce that had been foamed up, was as richly pleasing as you’d expect. Still, Maureen won the starters.

We both went for hare wellington next, which just goes to show how brilliantly discerning we are. Because this was a monstrously good plate of food. Seriously, I am beyond words. Perfect pastry, perfect hare, perfect gravy, and a perfect rich hare ragu on the side. The veg was good too. But that wellington! I hereby declare that I could eat hare wellington every day until I keel over and die happy.

Hare wellington

Hare wellington

Pud we also both went for quince and honey souffle with caramelised almond ice cream. I cannot resist quince, even though I’m so often disappointed when overzealous cooking destroys that delicate, ephemeral perfume. Needn’t have worried, this souffle was perfumed to the max and the funk of honey is a really smart flavour to pair with it. I also want a lot more caramelised almond ice cream in my life.

And then we retired to the lounge for coffee and petit fours, as you do.

They looked after us beautifully at Hambleton Hall, and at £73 for the 3 course menu that counts as great value for the whole experience. The puddles and the cold couldn’t faze us on the totter back to our B&B, we had hare wellington to sustain us!



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