CALCOT MANOR (Restaurant review, the Cotswolds)

I’ve just got back from a couple of days’ stay at the wonderful Calcot Manor in the Cotswolds… this is the second time I’ve been and there’s something about the place that just keeps you coming back for more.

The house is GORGEOUS. It’s nestled away in the heart of the Cotswolds and it really does feel like you’re entering a haven when you first drive up the driveway. The grounds come complete with a croquet lawn, outdoor seating and extensive fields to explore during the day. The bedrooms are blissful, spacious and clean, with an abundance of complementary magazines so you’ll never find yourself getting bored. The spa is one of my favourite reasons for visiting the hotel; there’s an indoor and outdoor pool, a gym, tennis courts and, my favourite, the outdoor jacuzzi.

And then it comes to the food. Wow, wow, wow. I didn’t think the menu could improve from my last visit (which was about two years ago now) but I think it’s fair to say that it has. I don’t think I’ve ever been so stuck for choice on a menu before. There were starters of truffle risotto, Iberico ham, crab and caviar on toast; mains of fillet of beef, whole Dover Sole; desserts of rose water panna cotta, dark chocolate fondant, amongst many other tempting offerings.

What struck in me particular was the section dedicated to sharing dishes for two people. Here, you could choose from Beef Wellington with truffle mash, terrine of foie gras, salmon en croute, a shellfish platter or even the 50 grams of Oscietra caviar served with buckwheat blinis and crème fraiche (although at £70 a head it might be a while until I’ll be having this one!) They even had a selection of seasonal dishes, including three different variations of asparagus, oysters, langoustines and a whole or half lobster.

All our dishes came perfectly cooked. My particular favourites were the mains; I went for halibut on the first evening and then rack of lamb on the second. Normally I tend to go for fish for starters and meat for mains, but I was particularly attracted to the halibut that came with sorrel purée, truffles, sesame and cucumber. The combination went together seamlessly; the cucumber and sesame added a delicious freshness and then the sorrel purée, which I thought might be rather mild, had a wonderful taste that pulled everything together perfectly. I can’t recommend this dish enough.

Oh, and the desserts? Incredible. Praline soufflé on the first evening, which came with a delicious banana ice cream and thick caramel sauce, and then dark chocolate and pistachio fondant on the second, complete with Oreo, yes OREO, ice cream. I was in heaven.

So if you’re looking to spend a couple of days escaping the real world, or you’d simply like to visit an exquisite restaurant, then make Calcot the destination. The staff are wonderful, the atmosphere is welcoming, cosy and relaxing and the grounds and surrounding area are beautiful. I definitely plan on making a third visit and I thoroughly encourage you to as well.

You can find Calcot Manor on Twitter @Calcot_Manor, Instagram @calcot_manor or online at www.calcotmanor.co.uk

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