Dinner At The Newly Opened Brasserie @ Horsley
Well, dear readers, to say it’s the run-up to Christmas, things are still as busy for this greedy bird. Friday night saw The Man Bird and me at the Brasserie at Horsley Lodge, the first time we have been since its refurbishment in November. The long drive up to the Lodge itself really allows you to appreciate the fantastic view of the premises, and of course the festive lights around the trees have a real wow factor to them.
As soon as we stepped inside the spacious reception we were greeted with a cheery hello from the receptionist who duly showed us through to the bar area. You can’t help but be impressed by the massive set of horns from a Highland Bull; they are simply breath-taking. I loved the colour scheme in this area with its greens, heathers and soft grey touches, and the velvet sofas are a real feature. We decided to spend a few minutes here and have a cheeky aperitif, as you do.
As you walk through into the Brasserie itself the refined scheme continues with chairs covered in tartan in hues of Charcoal, heather and taupe with beautiful wooden flooring and tables. The country theme is continued in here with a magnificent Stag antler centre ceiling light.
Our server, Faye, placed two amuse bouche before us; Pastrami smoked Salmon with Tomato and Watercress on Bruscetta and Foamed Cauliflower soup. The Salmon was really tasty and gave lovely flavours to the palate and the soup had the most wonderful texture to it and a delicate taste that was punctuated by black pepper and Pine nuts on the top.
Then Faye brought over some homemade white and brown bread with rounds of Beurre Noisette (burnt butter to you and I) with Crème Fraiche for us to try. His nibs loved the brown bread with the Beurre Noisette as it really brought out a sweeter accent of the Crème Fraiche whilst I preferred the White Bread and Beurre combination as you get a smokier hint coming through.
Just as Faye had taken our starter order (Surf and Turf for Him, Pigeon breast for me) through to the kitchen, the General Manager, Nathan, came over to say hello and ask how we were enjoying our experience so far.
The Surf and Turf consists of confit Chicken Ravioli, crispy Squid, and roast chicken sauce and, according to The Boy Wonder, is “an explosion of taste”; the squid was superb and not rubbery at all, the ravioli was cooked perfectly al dente and was absolutely packed with chicken.
My Pigeon breast was very tasty and tender (the confit leg was also superb), and I particularly liked the Carrot and Cumin puree, it just seemed to intensify the deep flavour of the pigeon. The sweet smoked Beetroot was the icing on the cake with this dish, it married perfectly with the smoky cumin and rich Pigeon flavours. Both dishes were beautifully arranged and presented on the plate with some thought and care.
For his main course The Man chose (surprise surprise) the beef; BBQ short-rib and braised cheek with Shallots, black Cabbage and fondant potato and I had the Lamb cutlets from the Char grill with almondine green beans, smoked bacon tartiflette and pan gravy.
Both beef cuts were incredibly tender; the rich intense flavour of the cheek contrasted fantastically with the creamier short rib. There was exactly the right amount of BBQ sauce to compliment the short-rib rather than overwhelm it, as can sometimes happen in less skilled hands. Then to top it all, the fondant had a lovely crisp outer that revealed a creamy, glass-smooth inner - utter perfection according to His Nibs.
My own trio of Lamb cutlets were delicious and they had a lovely glistening layer of fat on their outside that had added a gorgeous juiciness to the flavour, and the meat itself was so lean. I loved the presentation of the cutlets and they were served beautifully pink - just the way I like them. The almondine beans were pleasingly crunchy, as were the Honey and Thyme glazed carrots and braised red cabbage that we’d ordered as extras.
As well as over-cooked Fish, my other pet hate is soggy vegetables, so the team at The Brasserie are diamonds in my opinion.
The bacon tartiflette (similar to dauphinoise) was lovely and rich too, the Boy Wonder had to pinch a bit as he loves creamy, cheesy potato dishes. Matt came and checked that we were enjoying our main courses, and we told him that the food was superb and to pass our comments on to the Chef (Oliver Parnell), who unfortunately we didn’t get to meet as he was cooking up a storm for 120 party guests.
I should just give a cheeky mention to the suppliers of the meat we had, Owen Taylors of Leabrooks; top marks chaps for the quality of your produce.
For pudding (and again this will come as no surprise) The Man had White Chocolate Bavarois and I had the Apple Creme Brulee, although I was very tempted by the Christmas Pudding soufflé I must say.
The Bavarois was a visual delight with its three graduated tiers of Chocolate temptation; a sumptuous chocolate brownie was topped with a milk chocolate mousse and crowned with a white chocolate layer which in turn was adorned with a patterned crisp. It had the most wonderful velvet quality to it on the tongue and was wickedly rich and decadent.
The crème was sublimely thick and wonderfully creamy which put it at the polar opposite of the fresh, zingy apple ice cream; it was a riot of flavour on the tongue and the crunchy texture of the apple crisps made it a delight to eat.
I should mention that Loz had been tempting me with his cocktails all evening and my resistance finally caved as I ordered an Espresso Martini while the Boy had to settle for a latte as he was driving. The Martini was a very cheeky little number and I could imagine that it would be extremely easy to get squiffy on these as they taste so innocent.
All too soon our evening at the Brasserie had to end, but what an evening it was; everyone had been so lovely and the food was superb. The bill for the three courses of food and the two side vegetable orders was £66 which given the quality we feel is very good value.
I can recommend the Brasserie at Horsley Lodge quite happily to you dear reader, we were made to feel very welcome and valued and the food, as I may have mentioned, was really good. Hot Wings to the Brasserie team. :)