I’ve already recounted my impressions of Goldsborough Hall after attending the launch of their dining room a few weeks back so, on the basis of enjoying it, I was more than happy to go back when invited and sample that dining experience for myself. Given that I’ve already covered the splendid building elsewhere, I’m going to indulge myself here and talk solely about the food and the experience that delivered it rather than the wonderful building and environment.
Having abandoned our mouldy car far enough away from the frontage to avoid ruining the guests’ view, we promptly allowed a very friendly ginger cat in with us – this is someone’s home right, they might have pets?
Saying hi to the manager, head chef and friendly staff, we deposited our coats and slumped into a leather sofa in front of a roaring fire with the drinks menu, as canapes and menus appeared promptly.
Black pudding scotch egg with a central smear of tangy apple wasn’t nearly as substantial as the main ingredient would infer, while a generous shot glass of crayfish with marie rose sauce contrasted neatly against a prawn tempura with sweet chilli sauce. Test-driven with this were a glass of the Portugese house white and a G&T (Hendricks, with cucumber in case you were wondering) that were remarkably well-priced for such a prestigious venue.
|Choices made, we decamped through to the dining room, our friendly Transylvanian waiter doing the heavy lifting for us, and selected a table in the corner of this grand and welcoming space. Before long we were politely presented with a choice of breads (sun blush tomato and olive and rosemary) providing excellent vehicles to absorb subsequent flavours.
Next up was an amuse-bouche of Earl Grey tea-smoked duck curled around a crispy quail’s egg with carefully placed drops of beetroot puree. The duck was an utter delight, soft enough to melt in the mouth while the crispy egg gave a textural comparison after it had ejected its perfectly preserved yolk. I’d have been extremely happy with this as a starter: possibly the largest amuse-bouche I’ve ever been served. Still, hardly a point of complaint with such a well-realised dish.
After a short pause, our Transylvanian chum arrived with starters of roast pumpkin, pinenut and sage tortellini with butternut squash veloute and sea trout with a visually-pleasing poppy seed tuile. The tortellini was as light as one would hope of a starter while the veloute smothered it with soft, luxurious flavours. Roast pumpkin didn’t set off the veloute as sharply as it might have done, but that stunning tortellini carried it off.
As we shifted gear toward the mains, there was another interstitial flavour to take on board. A demi-tasse cup of rich tomato soup concealing a crispy mozzarella ball broke the flow of proceedings. While the flavours were there, that ball of cheese begged to be further crisped or more recently introduced to the soup. Nothing untoward, but perhaps not adding as much as it might to the experience.
Time for mains and we welcomed to the table a chunk of beef with oxtail pudding, shallot puree, buttered kale and thyme jus. My companion was good enough to accede to my request for her to order curried monkfish in pancetta that was accompanied by potato gallete and mussel veloute. Everything came together wonderfully for this course.
It’s so easy to overpower fish with a curry sauce, more so to lose the contrast of a third flavour, that pancetta, so there’s every reason to trumpet this dish as a triumph. Another veloute sat alongside, mussel in this case, and the accompanying bed of paper thin potato slices balanced moisture and crisped textures perfectly.
The beef was another triumph. Perhaps a little more predictable than the monkfish but very well executed, the oxtail-stuffed dumpling undoubtedly did the trick. If I were to be picky, I’d mention that the La Langhe beef I recently had was accompanied by a thicker, meatier jus, but then I’d have to concede you’d be playing service roulette at the same time, something you couldn’t accuse Goldsborough Hall of.
After everything we’d enjoyed so far, I’ve no doubt that dessert would have been of the same high standard. I’m not sure if my lack of capacity by this point was a personal failing or a reflection of too large a serving. I still maintain that the mark of a truly stunning meal is the sense that a chef can provide almost infinite courses whilst still leaving you with the capacity for independent thought by the end of the evening. That said, I accept my appetite isn’t the largest, so I’d not be churlish to call that a criticism. My single justified complaint is a lack of espresso, not really appropriate for this sort of location. That said, I probably prefer this approach to trying to pass off some pod machine as real coffee.
At £55 for five courses and with a sensibly priced drinks menu, there’s very little to argue about. Excellent food, relaxing environs and good service tick all the boxes. With Mothers’ Day peeking over the horizon, afternoon tea here has to be high on the list if you’re not inclined toward spending money on fine dining. If you’re happy to put a bit of money into a nice meal, then this a wonderful destination, with the bonus of stunning rooms should one wish to side step the drive home. Oh, and apparently that ginger cat wasn’t welcome and was ejected the following morning when located asleep on top of a radiator!
Disclaimer: While the food featured here was at no cost to myself, no demands were made of me with regard to this review