I have been frequenting the Seaview Hotel for fourteen years and regularly when under its hugely successful working ownership of the illustrious Nick & Nicky Haward.
But since those heady days, there has been a noticeable turnover in staff and management - both front and back of house. Even its corporate identity has changed at various intervals - largely for the worse. Chefs have come and gone and some who have come were received with a fanfare of trumpets. And this is where I come in. I reached the stage where things simply were not up to at least my expectations. Having said that, I do want to make it perfectly clear, that when it comes to food & beverage, I don't expect 'the earth'. But what I do expect is acceptable service ... good things from the kitchen ... prices that do not shock ... continuity ... and all of this in an agreeable atmosphere. Hardly demanding.
So having learnt that yet another head chef had emerged (mid March of this year) I set out to 'suck it and see at the Seaview Hotel'. What was the verdict? Did it suck? Not a bit of it.
I toddled up to it early yesterday (16 July) evening. Since the weather was balmy, my wife and I sat at a table on its front terrace. I went into the Naval Bar, which services it, and ordered-up.
Andrew attended to this with charm and competence. "Yes!"
Fish soup was, in a word, superb. Restaurant Perard at Le Touquet is famous for it and having had it there, I can confidently say that Head Chef Bruce Theobald's rendition of this classic dish gave Perard a run for its money. Served at the ideal temperature and,in the right sort of bowl, it was accompanied, just as it should be, by croutons, grated Gruyere cheese and Rouille. The last of these accompaniments was paler than that which I had anticipated but nevertheless tasted as it should. All-in-all, a triumph.
For our mains, both of us had the blackboard (in reality, a mirror) special of the day: fillets of cod with a crispy skin, Swiss chard, petits pois a la Francaise, creamed potatoes and a light cream sauce: all well plated and well balanced. In no way could it have been improved upon.
My wife made up for having skipped a starting course by finishing-off with a burnt Cambridge cream, seasonal fruit compote (served separately) and a trio of delicate biscuits. 'Deliciosa'.
The Island really does boast some extraordinarily good raw materials including magnificent tomatoes, juicy garlic, free range poultry and superior beef. Chef Theobald makes great use of it all, including from the hotel's own farm. Just as he does with all manner of wonderous catches from the sea. His credentials are first rate (two of them being London's Grosvenor House and the Capital Hotel, Knightsbridge). He joined the Seaview Hotel in mid-March and I implore the hotel's owner to ensure that he is well looked after: to lose him would be a tragedy.
Full marks for everything but certainly not for the unswept terrace. Why would you want to see a scattering of cigarette butts when you're tucking into this sort of accomplished cooking? Shall I throw in a little niggle? Please do away with the habit of tightly wrapping poor quality paper napkins around each knife & fork.
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