Lunch at Hambleton Hall

February 9, 2011

In January Hambleton Hall received its Michelin star for the 29th year. It also introduced a “Lunch for Even Less” offer of £19 for two courses, £24.25 for three.

Well, it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

Hambleton Hall

Gill and I drove out from Leicester on a cloudy, gusty day that left Rutland Water resembling the North Sea.  Once inside the Hall and installed by the log fire, though, life took on a very different hue. I was hoping –  expecting, really – that the lunch offer would not be a downgraded version of the legendary Hambleton offering, and it wasn’t. As we warmed up we were offered three canapés – sea bass morsels with tartare were routine but excellent,  chicken liver parfait was intense and deliquescent and best of all was a little beetroot meringue with goats cheese,  a little flavour bomb that carried on giving its gift for an extraordinary length of time.   

The lunch menu offers two choices at each course and we selected one of everything. Ballotine of guinea fowl involved choice cuts of pressed meat along with a mild, mustardy, crunchy piccalilli and lightly pickled shallots. Raviolo of ham hock was a superbly made parcel of chopped meats and seasonings encased in pasta so thin it was translucent. Mains featured relatively base ingredients – blade of beef and fillet of coley – which were transmuted into gold by kitchen flair and hard work. The blade was chopped, bound and rolled with herbs and mushrooms. It was delivered perched on top of a crunchy rosti and came with a sweet, sticky sauce  with red wine, caramelised shallots and tarragon. The fish was simply pan fried  with a pesto crust and was soft and flaky, with a foamy  bouillabaise sauce. All the dishes had deep and complex layers of flavour. 

 Last time I came to Hambleton I’d been knocked out by a desert of passionfuit soufflé.  The coconut and lime soufflé I had this time didn’t quite match that perfection but was technically faultless, being as soft as a baby’s breath  but still carrying the flavour of its ingredients. Once again I was particularly impressed with the sorbets, a coconut one with the soufflé, an orange one with Gill’s fine chocolate and orange tart. How the kitchen distils such powerful essences into such an insubstantial  ice I’ve no idea. 

Raviolo of ham hock, pea and mint veloute

The staff are numerous, skilled, and float around the place with unhurried efficiency. Outside of the kitchen, the place makes few concessions to modernity, but if you accept that it’s going to be a very particular kind of experience, there is such a huge amount to enjoy here.   

The “Lunch for Even Less” deal runs  until 27 February. 

(Oh, and there was no sign of Sven, hope you are all still looking out for him.)

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3 Responses to “Lunch at Hambleton Hall”

  1. Neil said

    I knew reading this at lunchtime would be a mistake … my stale ham sandwich looks all the more unappetising now. Have wanted to head back to Hambleton for a while now and this lunchtime deal sounds like an ideal excuse – cheers Tim!

    Like

    • riponia said

      I had similar feeling when I was sitting there eating it. “This is going to spoil me, a dull old lunch just won’t do any more.” Sadly, maybe, I suppose we do readjust our expectations. Let us know how you get on if you do go.

      Like

  2. […] seven restaurants include Hambleton Hall, Langar Hall, Berkeley Arms, Marquess of Exeter, The Olive Branch, The Red Lion (Stathern), and the […]

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