Nailcote Hall, Berkswell

I don’t know about you, but from November to March we can mostly be found hunkering down on a squishy sofa toasting our toes on an open fire and occasionally hammering out Oh The Weather Outside on the piano. It’s blissful.

I appreciate the neighbours might disagree. It takes something a bit special to lure us out from our den and slap bang in the middle of the festive season Nailcote Hall managed it. The historic hall had undergone a bit of a revamp with nine extra bedrooms including a very desirable suite and a new clubhouse. An established wedding venue averaging more than one a week plus a popular golf and party destination, we wondered if dinner would be up to scratch?

LIGHTS FANTASTIC

Arriving in the dark the entrance looked stunning with fairy lights adorning a horticultural archway. Good start. The reception area was packed full of rural charm with exposed beams, traditional décor and a relaxed vibe with the gorgeous hotel cat perched on the desk – its favourite spot apparently. At an impressive 22 years this feline has the best life of any cat anywhere on the planet from what we can gather. I digress, but this is what happened. Everyone was so friendly we felt involved almost instantly. The Oak Room restaurant was seriously cosy. A roaring log fire, low ceilings and a checked carpet made it feel homely and relaxed. Sat right by the fire we were tempted to toast our toes, but managed to keep them under wraps. It was an idyllic spot though. The menu had thankfully not been given too much of a Christmas twist, but head chef Daniel Topa had pulled together the best dishes from the usual menu and combined them into a smaller book. We put in an order for a bottle of Gavi while we weighed up the options. On the subject of wine, it’s a great list with a focus on English varieties as part of the hotel’s English Wine Project featuring, yes you guessed it, English wine including Welcome Hills from Warwickshire. A nice touch. Warm bread arrived smelling incredible. The sage and onion and sun-dried tomato versions were delicious. An amuse bouche, in the form of an espresso cup of mulled wine was slightly odd. It tasted perfectly fine, but I didn’t really want it with a glass of Gavi and warm bread. The other half loved it though. Chicken liver parfait with soft brioche and sticky chutney had us cooing while the scallops with crispy Parma ham, caviar and pea puree was very good. The salty ham and sweet pea combination was a joy. We felt so at home now that I almost popped out of my seat and plonked another log on the fire, but lovely waiter Glynn beat me to it. Onto the steak and chips. When chips arrive in neat Jenga constructions my heart sinks. They’re often disappointingly more style than substance. Not these bad boys. They were bloomin’ lovely and the steak was cooked perfectly too served with a rich sauce, mushrooms and tomatoes. APPLE TRIO I opted for a chicken breast with a festive feel accompanied by pigs in blankets and stuffing. It was moist and packed with flavour. The selection of vegetables served at the table was all a bit silver service and a little old-fashioned, but they tasted great. Dessert came in the form of a trio of apple which consisted of apple crumble, apple ice cream and an apple sponge. It was super sweet and moreish with a nice toffee flavour too. We left having had a lovely evening. Every member of staff we met was superb and I don’t mean slick, but welcoming, helpful and positive. They described the Nailcote team as ‘a big family’ and it felt genuine too, not just lip service. The place is nostalgic and warm and gives you that fuzzy feeling you get when you’re completely relaxed and happy.