Firstly I should make it clear I didn't stay there, but as it is not listed under Restaurants, I'll have to review it here.
The approach is stunning, I went there in November with a booking made by a friend at 1915, so obviously it was dark, but the illuminations, not only of the building but the surrounding land was very impressive. The car park is a short walk away from the entrance, but it wasn't raining so who cares (well I would if it had been but never mind)
So the first impression is good. Then you walk in.
Talk about being ignored, might as well have been invisible, so unabashed I walked up to Reception. The Receptionist gave me one of those looks that terrify the uninitiated, but I've had a few of them before so with a smile on my face I explained that I had a reservation, made by a friend for 1915. Now, i don't mind admitting we were 7 minutes late, but the look I got was amazing, she looked at her watch, she turned and looked at the clock and very audibly tutted. She told me to go to the restaurant. There are no signs, but I found it, walked in and again had to check if i had the invisibility cloak on!
Eventually someone who's knowledge of the English language left something to be desired came up and, after a certain amount of dialogue, tutted again, walked off and sent someone else over to see me. This turned out to be a young man with what I can only describe as attitude and so, reluctantly on his part, we were shown to our table.
The ambiance is great, the decorations superb, so much work has obviously been put into this place that I hardly noticed the 20 minutes that elapsed before anyone came and noticed us! the menu is probably one of the best i have seen, it would take me at least 6 visits to eat all the dishes I really thought interesting, in fact my friends and I all fancied the same things but agreed to each try different dishes just to check the variety. But it took what seemed like eternity for anyone to come and take our order!
I'm not an alcoholic (probably) but I do enjoy a glass of wine and I'd been there for getting on for 40 minutes before the staff even brought the subject up, our food order was placed and we were told that the 'sommelier' would be over to take our wine order. Please, how pretentious can you get!! We sat for another few minutes, before I lost my cool and demanded someone come, 2 minutes later a charming young lady arrived, took our order and left, only to return another 3 minutes later to say 'I can't find that one is there anything else you want'. Even my friends, who have much more patience than me were getting ratty by then. Most of the wine is seriously overpriced, the norm being £60+ which I am just not prepared to pay for what I know I can buy in Oddbins for £10. Our starters arrived, our glasses remained empty, but eventually the wine arrived.
Back to the positive, the starters were delicious, I had wild mushrooms allegedly picked in the New Forest that morning and I'm not disputing that, all three of us loved the food. the plates were cleared and the main courses arrived just before one might have thought it was too long a gap. I had chosen their home made Fa...t (no jokes please and, apparently, a word you are not allowed to use on here, but a dish widely recognised in the UK with a name that has been used to describe gay men). 'Brains' it certainly was not, it was wonderful, one of my friends had a meat pie which looked and tasted wonderful and the other had Scallops which he judged to be perfect. One of the best meals I have had to be honest.
We were asked if we wanted dessert and menus were produced, it was 10 minutes before i asked, rather loudly, if someone could come and take an order. As I try to avoid desserts and, frankly the starters and main courses were 'elegant sufficiency' we ordered one and two spoons. The spoons arrived but not the dessert. I lost track of time, but what seemed like an eternity later, another waitress came over and asked if we wanted dessert, we politely explained that we had ordered, she went away and another waiter was dispatched to inform us that they had no record of what we had ordered, despite the menus having been taken away! Eventually it arrived, again it was judged perfect.
I asked for the bill, we waited, I asked again and eventually it arrived. I could not believe it when I looked at the total, less than £40 per head (we had picked the bottle of wine carefully and had two extra glasses to fill in the time). This was great value and truly (not only for the wrong reasons) memorable.
Having eventually persuaded someone to take payment we left at about 2245. They could have covered our table twice if the service had been up to scratch, no wonder it is so difficult to get a reservation.
To the owners I would say this is a disaster waiting to happen and an opportunity you should not miss. The product is superb, the delivery abysmal.
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