I always liked to eat at restaurants that were in the good food guide as it was always a true guide to finding 'good food'. Never used the michelin guide as I was searching for 'good food' not stars.
So despite hearing good things about St Helena from many people in Bedford I never went as it wasn't in the guide.
Well to be frank that is a missed opportunity for anyone who reads those guides.
I came here for my wedding anniversary on a warm saturday night. On arriving it reminded me of Le Manoir. I know it is not as grand but maybe this is Le petit Manoir a Bedford ! excuse my french. I think Raff et al are Italian but La Picola Casa doesn't have the same feel.
Had originally booked an early table but changed to later which was a pity as the gardens which befall you when you arrive were quite beautiful and it would have been nice to enjoy them.
A chef's appetiser of pea and elderflower was very good as it refreshed the taste buds followed by some excellent little home made breads.
I had a starter of scallops with a curry emulsion. The scallops were cooked perfectly, melting in the middle but with a lovely caramelised crust. She had a smoked salmon scotch egg with beetroot texture which was very good.
My main was turbot with courgettes and a vanilla sauce, forgetting the later made for an interesting meal as it took a while to work out the flavour, however the mix of all the ingredients together was superb. She had a beautifully cooked piece of beef fillet with some excellent triple cooked chips on the side.
The desserts were sublime. A refreshing, cooling zingy gooseberry ensemble for her while I had a chocolate delice with coffee ice cream and toasted hazlenuts that was just brilliant.
Followed by good coffee and petit fours. Had a superb prosecco with the meal.
All in all an excellent place. Pricey but worth it: just a shame they don't do a cheaper lunch menu.
My only small negatives would be that the service could be a bit more polished, though Raff is an effortlessly charming host. I prefer to have one person looking after you. At one point four people wanted to top up our wine in as few minutes. And give the conservatory roof a little polish.
Almost forgot and to top it all a very cute Maltese dog almost came home with us.
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