Yorkshire Life Lunch - Wentbridge House Hotel, near Pontefract
PUBLISHED: 10:08 12 July 2010 | UPDATED: 17:22 20 February 2013
Guests join us to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the county's finest country house hotels. Jo Haywood reports
ITS not just discerning guests who like to stay at the Wentbridge House Hotel, its staff are just as keen. While many of its rivals have a high turnover of employees, this idyllic West Yorkshire retreat maintains the same friendly, knowledgeable team year in and year out.
Manager Catherine Harrild is a prime example. She has been with the hotel for ten years - a feat matched by the talented head chef Steve Turner - and is showing no signs of itchy feet.
I get very emotional about this place, she said, in rare quiet moment in the hotels newly refurbished Fleur de Lys dining room. I started here as a part-time receptionist on eight hours a week and now Im the hotel manager. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. But thats what this place is all about. The owners invest in their people so that every member of staff feels they have a stake in the hotel.
The value of which has just considerably increased, thanks to a 100,000 facelift (well, after 50 years everyone needs a bit of work done) to breathe new life in to the hotels popular restaurant.
Wentbridge offers two distinct dining options in the form of its contemporary brasserie and its double AA rosette-holding fine dining restaurant. But both are presided over by the same team of experienced, creative chefs and both focus on delivering excellent food in a relaxed atmosphere.
The Fleur de Lys had not been touched for about 15 years, Catherine explained. But now we have the dining environment to match our food. Its opulent , elegant and the epitome of good taste.
Our guests were among the first to experience the revitalised new dining room when we gathered to help the hotel celebrate its milestone 50th anniversary with a memorable lunch.
The menu, created by the always innovative Steve Turner and his talented team, began with a pitch perfect dish of seared king scallops followed by a mouth-tingling mint mojito sorbet that attracted quizzical raised eyebrows when presented and exclamations of delight when tasted.
A main of melt-in-the-mouth, butter soft Yorkshire lamb with some of the freshest, greenest organic asparagus ever served on a plate left diners in little doubt that sometimes its the simplest dishes that pack the most punch.
And, as a final flourish, guests were presented with a pretty plateful of luscious, silky vanilla cream with seasonal strawberries in a delicate champagne liquor.
You can get a good chef who can pull off a great dinner for two or four or seven, said Catherine, but Steve produces quality food for dozens at a time with style and finesse. I dont know anyone who can match him.
If were talking style and finesse, the hotel itself could probably give him a run for his money. This lovely, four-star Georgian country house sits in 20 acres of picturesque gardens. Dating from 1700 and surrounded by ancient trees, the hotel is something of a hidden gem, steeped in history and style in a village setting just minutes from the A1 and within easy reach of Doncaster, Leeds, Wakefield and York.
It is not surprising that the hotel is a popular venue for wedding receptions, partly because couples are guaranteed to be the only wedding party in the house on their special day.
The hotel can also handle conferences and private dining for up to 130 guests, thanks to its friendly, professional and knowledgeable team.
For further information about Wentbridge House Hotel, The Great North Road, Wentbridge, Pontefract, West Yorkshire, WF8 3JJ. 01977 620444. email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wentbridgehouse.co.uk
Seared king scallops with crab cake, tomato and citrus vinaigrette and coriander shoots
Mint mojito sorbet
Canon of Croft House Farm lamb with Boston Spa organic asparagus, freshly podded peas, girolles and port jus
Vanilla cream with strawberries poached in champagne
Taylors of Harrogate coffee and petit fours
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut NV
This delicious aperitif has a wonderful balance of delicacy and power. Dominated by pinot noir, it has a firm structure, nicely rounded by a touch of pinot meunier.
Fox Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Marlborough, New Zealand
This wine is not too aggressive and doesnt attack the palate head-on as some of its counterparts do. It has a biscuity, deep texture with good gooseberry, nettle and grass notes.
Chateau Coupe-Roses, La Bastide 2006, France
The grapes for this wine are grown slowly and with great care to allow the flavour to develop into a rich, heady brew. The end product has intense spiciness with added elements of sage and wild thyme.
Gewurtztraminer Vendanges Tardives 2002, Trimbach, Alsace
This makes a great aperitif as well as a pudding wine. It has honeyed tones that are sweet without being sticky and tastes like harvest festival in a glass. Try it with strong cheese and youll be instantly hooked.
All the wines for our lunch were provided by Playford Ros. To find out more about this Thirsk-based merchant and importer, visit www.playfordros.com or phone 01845 526777.