Took my fiancé on Saturday evening for her first fine dinning experience and hoped she would get the point to why I enjoy it so much instead of over cooked carveries or Nandos. I originally visited the Whitebrook a few years back for a mid week lunch with my parents - which was lovely if the service was painfully slow (as there was only one other table in the restaurant) so I've always wanted to go back to see if the lack of balance was due to the pacing of the 3 course lunch menu vs the tasting.
Got to the restaurant 15 minutes before our table and we're sat down in the lounge where I had a glass of the local blanc d'niors (excellent) and she had the pear and elderflower soft drink which was surprisingly tall (normally you get a tiny glass filled with ice when ordering a soft drink). She then started complaining to me why we couldn't be seated at our table as she was hungry which I tried to explain was part of the experience however the canapés came out swiftly and helped diffuse things. Both which were lovely however I wish I had the chicken skin first as it did stay with me up the first course.
Amuse bouche was a lovely pallet cleanser however with a fresh cumber taste. I did ask how the cucumber essence was made which the chap running the front of house didn't know which was disappointing - he did offer to bring the chef out to ask but I would expect an establishments front of house of this standard to know this.
Best dish was the suckling pig which was up there with any 2* dish I've ever tasted and the front of house chap even brought out more sauce and bread for us to mop up! This has got to be one of the best things I've ever experienced at a restaurant - to see the glee on my fiancés face when more bread and pork came out was something special!! Such a small gesture but it went along way to make the evening memorable.
The other nice thing the restaurant did was swap the fish course out for my fiancé without argument for a cheesy leek course. She was blown away with this dish and I have mega food envy. My fish was cooked nicely however the smell of pungent cheese drifting in my direction just made want to have what she had. The fish was cooked nicely however the leek dish was another level of refinement and help along was for her to enjoy the evening.
Overall I would give this restaurant 4.5 stars - I've given 5 stars on trip advisor because I think 4 is unfair. There were a couple of errors. Firstly I had finished my dessert before I received my dessert wine - the sommelier did apologise for this and was excellent and attentive throughout but this was an oversight. Whether his fault or not I think The Whitebrook has unearthed a star here and would like to see where the chap ends up in the future. All wines were perfectly paired and I was able to chat and discuss the wines at a level which I had not experienced at a restaurant before - I thought I was buying wine at a local majestic due to how informative and passionate he was! The 2* sommeliers that I have experienced in the past have not been as good as he was (The Whitebrook is the only 1* restaurant I have been to - all the others have been 2*) I don't believe any of them would have risked a natural wine which was a new experience for me - still undecided if I liked it or not however it did work with the scallop dish. A very brave but successful move.
The 2nd disappointment was on the Duck Parfait - The star of the show was the duck croquette. This was excellent however tiny and the strong parfait completely over powered the dish once this croquette had been eaten. One less blob of parfait or one more croquette (the later) would have made the dish. A bit of a shame however the cooking was excellent and parfait smooth and creamy as you could imagine.
Overall an excellent evening. fiancé was flabbergasted by the price (not her concern I was paying, and felt the value was completely fair) and she came out saying that she understood why I liked fine dining tasting menus however she still preferred burgers and chips. Can't win them all I guess. Might try a 1* pub next time and see if I can convince her on that. However I had a lovely time and the pacing was perfect - fiancé had no issues with the pace either - even if did vent her frustrations when I said the whole experience would take 3 half hours.
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