We visited as part of a Christmas party event, marketed as “a sophisticated classical evening brimming with mystery, glamour and intrigue in dark, sultry surroundings”. We did not stay in the hotel and so can only comment on the food and quality of the function room and bar. As the event brochure named the hotel rather than restaurant I have opted to leave comments on this page.
The evening started well, we were greeted by a fire eater outside the entrance and ushered inside by masked attendees (I should add it was a masquerade ball! Unfortunately although we had been advised masks would be available on the night, there were very few (not enough), despite our arriving early and most people having brought their own). Luckily we came by taxi as would not have been able to park at the venue, which was very busy. Once inside, we were anticipating a “fabulous cocktail” as advertised in the brochure, but were offered nothing and so had to assume that we were supposed to get these ourselves from the bar. Instead I ordered 2 gin and tonics, which were served to me in pint glasses! Not very glamorous and not in keeping with the £11+ charged. They were switched for slightly more appropriate wine glasses on request, with an explanation that they had run out of glasses, less than half an hour into the evening. In fact, the lack of (correct) glasses was a running theme – red wine was later served in champagne flutes etc. The bar manager did at least make the effort to seek us out at our table when he did unearth some wine glasses later.
We had ordered in advance from a set menu, which included 3 courses, but no drinks except for the water on the table and a tea or coffee after, and things improved once the food began to leave the kitchen. It was simple, but well cooked and full of flavour. It was perhaps on the expensive side, all things considered and perhaps not the quality we expected given that Marco Pierre White put his name to it, but enjoyable and well portioned and, undoubtedly part of the price also went towards the evenings entertainment. Sadly, the serving staff did let the side down a little. They were all polite and earnest enough, but clearly inexperienced and often seemingly disorganized. At each course, a good proportion of the table were left waiting for their food whilst the servers aimlessly wandered around the room looking for someone to claim their meal. At one point a teenager came round with a bin liner to clear clutter from the tables, practical perhaps but not what one expects on a supposedly “sophisticated” occasion. I appreciate that many of the servers were teenagers and, most likely, only there for the busy Christmas season and so may not represent the usual quality of staff at the hotel or restaurant. I also consider, though, that if you work to high standards, you should aim to maintain them at all times. Following the meal we were encouraged to serve ourselves tea and coffee from a table near the bar.
Entertainment was laid on during the meal in the form of a young, close up magician and afterwards by a DJ. Our group was fairly diverse in terms of age and taste, but I have to say everyone felt the DJ was a bit below par until later on in the evening when an improvement in his musical tastes (from what I assume was his “Now that’s what I call 90’s reggae!” album to dance floor / Karaoke favourites and a few more modern numbers) coincided merrily with everyone’s declining sobriety.
Overall, we had a wonderful night, due to great company, good food, high spirits and a few Christmas tipples (purchased separately from the bar of course) and so left happy. I might return to try the proper restaurant as the food was certainly enjoyable and we were well treated. That said, I probably wouldn't organise a group going to a similar event / party night here though as the standard of service fell short of what we expected given the way the venue and this event in particular were marketed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set within its own large tranquil and rural grounds, The Casa Hotel is known for its excellent cuisine, accommodation and calm, traditional atmosphere. Home to Marco Pierre White's Wheeler's of St. James restaurant and boasting a purpose event and meeting space that can cater for up to 150 guests The Casa is the ideal choice for any occasion. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Casa Dei Cesari Yateley
- The Casa Hotel Yateley, Hampshire