On our recent visit to Ox Pasture Hall Hotel we were looking forward to dining in the their Courtyard Restaurant – previously having been awarded 2 AA rosettes and mentioned in the Michelin Guide. We started with a drink in the bar and lounge area and were offered the menus and wine list to look through while we had an aperitif in front of the fire.
The restaurant itself was very classically fitted out, with white tablecloths, wooden tables and chairs and overlooked the courtyard, lovely for those summer evenings. Service was always very pleasant and timely, if a little rough around the edges in places.
The menu was on the large side for a fine dinging restaurant (13 mains & 15 choices for dessert…..!) but there were some nice sounding options. To start we were bought a small pre starter – a Roasted Tomato Soup. This was rich and velvety and full of flavour. We were offered bread from a basket that was taken round all the tables (very old school silver service!). We both tried the Cheese and Chive; it was wonderfully soft but the favours were not that strong.
For my starter I chose the Confit Duck Salad Mini Duck Parfait & Cherry Sorbet. The two duck elements were very well done, but I felt although the flavour of the sorbet was good there was too much on the plate and it overpowered the other elements a bit. My husbands starter of the Pressed Ham Hock Terrine, Piccalilli & Mustard Dressing was excellent. I tried a few bites and the picalilli was so tangy and really cut through the ham. Two very lovely starters.
My main carried on the good food trend – Pan Fried Sea Bass with Chorizo Ratatouille, Fondant Potato & Red Pepper Coulis. My fish was very well cooked, with a beautiful crisp skin and the ratatouille and coulis were both packed with flavour. The potato fondant looked a little pale and was under seasoned, but was again perfectly cooked. Lee’s main unfortunately was more of a miss than a hit. He chose the 2 Bone Rack of Lamb, Lamb & Kidney Faggot, Dauphinoise Potato, Butternut Squash Puree. The rack itself was cooked pink, but the fat not rendered at all. The faggot was just not quite right and the puree very sweet. The kale however was cooked very well and the jus was very good with a glossy sheen to it. You could see what the chef was trying to do but the execution of this dish let it down.
I chose a Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert with a Milk Ice Cream. The toffee sauce was excellent – taken just far enough so it had that slightly bitter taste but not burnt. Milk Ice-cream was an interesting tasty alternative to cream or vanilla ice-cream. Lee went for the Cheeseboard – the types of cheese were not explained on the menu or by the staff and the cheese was very cold but had some nice accompaniments and mix of crackers.
So a meal with generally decent and quite traditional food, with a couple of slightly less successful dishes, in a relaxed informal setting. It’s not quite the fine dining I think its going for in my opinion, but I can see what they’re trying to do. I think scaling back the evening menu would help improve the execution a bit too. Nevertheless we enjoyed our evening, and would like to really give a shout out to the barman on the night who was SO nice, helpful and really knew his stuff.
Disclosure: The meal was complimentary but as ever all opinions are our own.