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December 9 2013 Latest news:
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Summer was on the menu at one of West Yorkshire's leading luxury hotels even though it was cold and wet outside, as Annie Stirk, our food and drink consultant reports Photographs by Andy Bulmer
Wentbridge House Hotel nestles in 20 acres of leafy gardens in Wentbridge village, which is itself a nature conservation area set in the beautiful Went Valley. The hotel, with 41 beautiful, individually designed and decorated bedrooms as well as a 2 AAAA Rosette fine-dining restaurant, Fleur de Lys, and the buzzy Wentbridge Brasserie, still manages to retain a family charm.
The hotel not only serves visitors but has also become a local hub for Wentbridge folk, and hotel manager Catherine Harrild describes her team at the as one big happy family.
Indeed, Wentbridge Brasseries 70-year-old waitress Barbara is something of an institution who has served customers in the restaurant and brasserie for more than 30 years, winning a real following over the years. Its not surprising she is described as brilliant Babs on TripAdvisor, the visitor guide website.
New chef, Michael Ward has enjoyed something of homecoming, having trained at Wentbridge only to return this year after a hugely successful period working with some of the biggest names in the industry; Francis Atkins at The Yorke Arms, Nigel Howarth at Northcote Manor and the Highwayman pub, as well as a stint at the famous Samling Hotel in the Lake District. Wentbridge is where I learned all my skills and Im thrilled to be back, says Michael.
Hotel guests must be pretty pleased Michael has returned if the creative and innovative menu for our Yorkshire Life lunch was anything to go by. Driven by a passion for good, honest food, Michael is imaginative with local produce, and he included lovely local morsels such as Yorkshire Rhubarb, from the Rhubarb Triangle, Pontefract Cake Ice Cream and delicious Sykes House Farm Lamb, from Wetherby. Michael even foraged in nearby fields for nettles for the lambs herb crust.
Michael pulled out all the stops to bring colour to what turned out to be a dull weather day with a menu that was a culinary evocation of summer. Lunch guests were impressed with his flair for unusual flavour combinations. I want to bring fresh eyes and passion and put my own stamp on the menu, he said.
On the menu were delicious canaps including Happy Trotters Pork Croquet with Black Sheep Jelly, crisp cheese straws and Kipper Parfait en Crote served in a quirky ice cream cone, reminiscent of a day at the seaside.
Canaps were perfectly complemented by Corney & Barrows light and summery Blanc de Blancs Cve NV.
The starter of Wentbridge cured salmon, pickled cucumber, caviar, artichoke cream and lemon relish was perfectly judged. The slight sharpness of the pickled cucumber and lemon relish worked wonderfully with the five-day cured salmon, which was shaped into a roll and then sliced.
The follow up a palate cleansing Summer Berry Sorbet lived up to its name and was pure summer; fresh, light and made from a stock syrup of cherries, nicely balanced with the sharpness of summer berries.
The main course of Flat Roast Saddle of Denby Dale Lamb, foraged herb crust, roasted shallot, smoked pommes puree and glazed beetroot didnt disappoint either with a lovely play on flavours. The smoked pommes puree worked as a delightful foil for the succulent lamb, while the dessert of Wakefield Rhubarb Tart, spiced sweet bread, Pontefract Cake Ice Cream, was local with a capital L and worked beautifully together.
Talented saxophonist Matt Stacey added to the lazy summer scene inside while outside and despite the rain, the landscaped lawns and gardens with their beautiful old trees gave an air of rural tranquility and made it difficult to believe the village was just a hop from the busy A1.
Its a wonderful place to work, says Catherine, who has worked at the luxury hotel for 12 years. We feel like a family and the atmosphere is great, its a real pleasure to come to work. The chef agreed and feels hes come full circle. I spread my wings but now its my chance to showcase all that Ive learned in a place that I love, says Michael. I feel like Ive come home.
Wentbridge House Hotel
Happy Trotters Pork Croquet with Black Sheep Jelly, crisp cheese straws and Kipper Parfait en Crote
Wentbridge Cured Salmon, pickled cucumber, caviar, artichoke cream and lemon relish
Summer Berry Sorbet
Flat Roast Saddle of Denby Dale Lamb, foraged herb crust, roasted shallot, smoked pommes puree and glazed beetroot
Wakefield Rhubarb Tart, spiced sweet bread, Pontefract Cake Ice Cream
Wines for each course were supplied by Chris Halse of Corney & Barrow Ltd, Sedbury, North Yorkshire
Corney & Barrow Sparkling Blanc de Blancs NV, Methode Traditionnelle, France.
A perfect partner to the canaps, this Champagne style, champagne method wine is stylish and elegant with bright, delicate bubbles. The palate was well balanced and supple with a lovely array of apple, citrus peel and stone fruit flavours.
Ana Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Marlborough, New Zealand.
An intensely flavoured, mouth-watering palate, combining crisp gooseberry fruit, green grass and asparagus with a vibrant citrus acidity. Perfectly matched with the different flavours in the salmon starter.
Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge Les Becs Fins, Tardieu-Laurent 2010, France.
Decidedly seductive in style with layers of rich fruit offset by leather, tobacco, cedar and spice. Delicious with the main course. This wine has a depth and savoury complexity most Chateauneufs would envy.
Chateau Septy 2009, France.
If youre looking for a good value alternative to Sauternes for dessert, this is it. Opulent, lush tropical fruits wrapped up in honeyed orange marmalade richness with just enough zest to make it deliciously addictive.
Wines supplied by Corney & Barrow Ltd, Sedbury Hall Stables, Sedbury, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL10 5LQ. 01748 828640 corneyandbarrow.com
The print version of this article appeared in the July 2012 issue of Yorkshire Life
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