Between you and me there are some reviews that feel like work. Then there are others that are met with much whooping and cartwheeling across the office. Brockencote Hall falls into the latter camp for a number of reasons.
Firstly, we’d heard great things about head chef Adam Brown who was the subject of the Chef’s Corner feature in our May issue. Secondly and selfishly, it’s on our doorstep and thirdly we hadn’t dined at the Hall since the days of the previous owners, so we were keen to see what it had become. Brockencote has been part of the Eden Collection’s handful of chic establishments for three years now and it shows. It’s been given the signature Eden treatment turning this once tired, but beautiful building into a classic, stylish hotel that oozes quality. Wood panelling, show-stopping fireplaces and comfy chairs make for a relaxed, country vibe. If you’re familiar with sister hotel Mallory Court, it’s not dissimilar just on a grander scale.
We nestled in for a glass of champers and some inventive canapés while we perused the menu which set the tone nicely. Generally I like to avoid tasting menus because despite the adjusted portion size it just feels like too much food. However, we were advised to give it a whirl and given Adam’s reputation it would have been a shame not to sample as many dishes as possible. So we went for the seven-course menu with wine flight and here’s a whistle stop tour.
To kick off proceedings an amuse bouche of sweetcorn mousse with paprika popcorn arrived which tasted so much nicer than it sounded. The smell was amazing and the taste was superb. Scallops with kohlrabi, horseradish and smoked ox tongue served with a dry Reisling were fresh, zingy and made a cracking start to the meal. My other half isn’t a shellfish man but he cooed over it as much as me. The hand of pork terrine, cider, apple and verjus raisins was brilliant. The terrine was so deep and meaty, almost beefy and just melted away. The fruity accompaniments and a glass of Fleurie proved perfect with the richness. Onto the red mullet, charred onions, leek and brown shrimp butter which was the other half’s favourite. The whole thing was beautiful to look at and tasted super served with a Falaghina Vigna del Monaco. Roasted veal, wild garlic, asparagus and veal sweetbreads was tender and delicious, but the sweetbreads seemed enormous compared to the rest of the dish which was a bit odd. The accompanying Cote du Rhone was great. A palate cleansing lemon verbena mousse, coconut sorbet and buttermilk granita was fresh, light and sweet and followed the rich veal beautifully.
Next was a seriously grown-up hit of chocolate – Manjari dark chocolate delice, praline cream and goat’s milk ice cream. I’d been eyeing up this dessert for a while as the recipe for the delice is on our website and it didn’t disappoint. It was an absolute winner, managing to be bitter, sweet, smooth and crunchy all at the same time and was perfect with a black Californian muscat. The cheese selection was tremendous with roughly 25 to choose from. It’s worth mentioning how fantastic our waiter was. A tasting menu with wine flight means much more interaction than your average three-course meal, so it’s even more important to get the service spot on and he did. He explained each dish and the wine paring enthusiastically and knowledgably and seemed genuinely excited about what he was serving.
The place was busy for a random wet Thursday, so when Adam came out from the kitchen to chat he was practically mobbed by diners who were full of praise thanking him for a ‘wonderful meal’ which it was. “It’s taken three years to get to this point, where I’m totally happy with the food” he explained “It’s all about ensuring we use the ingredients when they’re at their very best and then concentrating on delivering the best flavour possible. Supporting local and British supporters is very important to me too”. On the way home we contemplated when we’d ever had a better meal and agreed that despite eating at some pretty fabulous starred restaurants we probably haven’t. Does a star beckon in Chaddesley? We do hope so.