Had the tasting menu on Sunday night and it was a great experience. Started off with cocktails in the beautiful garden. They mixed a gin fizz for me, even though it wasn't on the menu. They served the drinks with olives and nuts. As it started to get a bit cold, went into the bar where we had some lovely canapés - croquettes with pickled vegetables. It was very nice in the bar and the restaurant staff who brought the canapés and the menus were very attentive. However, I felt the bar staff could have had their eye on the ball a bit more - we had finished our first round of drinks long before the girl from the restaurant sorted out another round for us, whilst the bar staff chatted amongst themselves. This was the only bad point of the evening though.
The tasting menu had 8 courses, most of which were really good and very inventive. One or two of the courses weren't exactly to my taste - not that there was anything wrong with them at all, just a personal thing. However, the service, presentation and quality of the food was very good indeed and the dining room very relaxing. The Social Eating House in London's Soho, which I reviewed recently, could learn a thing or two from The Dower House about creating a good dining atmosphere!
The home made bread was excellent, particularly the sourdough, and was offered freely throughout the meal. Of the eight courses, the absolute highlight for me was the peanut butter first dessert (there were two desserts) and the table smoked salmon was extremely exciting! It is served under a dome, containing very aromatic smoke.
The wines were good and the meal was very nicely finished off with coffee and delicious petit fours served in the lovely drawing room.
This was by no means a cheap night out. The tasting menu costs £72 per head, the bar drinks averaged out at about £14 each, the NZ sauvignon blanc we drank was £40 a bottle. We also had red wine by the glass, but I don't recall what that cost. Large bottles of water were £4 each and coffee and petit fours were £5 per head. Despite this, having arrived at 7pm and not having left until nearly midnight, it was a very interesting and enjoyable way to spend the evening and the hotel and restaurant certainly did themselves proud.
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