Fantastic Restaurant, Wonky Floor

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 0:13 | Filed in Reviews, The Pickards

I went to a birthday party last weekend. Well, technically I went to two birthday parties, but since they were both for the same person, I’m going to treat the whole thing as one elongated party.

The reason being was that a friend of the GLW was 40 last Sunday, and so to mark the occasion, she had wanted to take all of her friends out for a meal on the saturday night, only to be told by her hubby that she couldn’t as there was a surprise on the saturday, so she took all of her friends out on the friday for a meal instead (which was very nice, incidentally).

The surprise however was that her friends were taking her out on the Saturday night. I’d been really looking forward to this all week — somewhat to the surprise of some friends for whom spending too much time in the company of their partners’ friends could become somewhat of a chore — but there are a group of about ten of us (my wife, her sister, three of their friends — and all the respective partners) who get on extremely well as a group, I never feel I have to make any effort to get on with any of them, I feel I fit nicely into the group, and I always have a great time when we go out together.

Obviously, we’d arranged babysitting cover for the two nights, but it’s really the second night I’m going to focus on here: Chapters Restaurant in Stokesley (North Yorkshire).

Once we got into the hotel, there were some intruiging architectural features. Basically, none of the surfaces in the hotel appeared to be level (hence the title of this post) — door lintels were at an angle, corridors seemed to lean ever-so-slightly to one side and so on — but I presumed this was because the building was somewhat old and “back in the day” they weren’t so fussed about things being flat.

Indeed, Chapters website confirms this, with a history dating back to 1793 as the Golden Lion.

Anyway, on to the stay. We were taking part in the Gourmet Night deal which meant that for £135 per couple, you could each have a three-course evening meal, an overnight stay (with a bottle of sparkling wine in the room), and breakfast in the morning. Not exactly cheap, but not ridiculous — if the food and the rooms were good enough.

Well, the rooms you can judge for yourselves, since they have photos of their rooms online (this was our room).

The rooms were nice, clean, airy — in general, good quality hotel rooms. The bottle of sparkling wine was very nice (and the GLW must agree, as she had most of it). So far, so good. But for that sort of price, you’d expect high-quality food.

Well, I had:

Pan-seared squid with erm… something I forget on some kind of a salad
The portion wasn’t exceedingly large but it was exquisite. I had been tempted with the Soup of the Day, but once I’d tried the first piece of squid I knew I’d made the right choice. The dressing with it was perfect too: perched somewhere between tangy and zesty it complemented both the squid and the salad.
Local Rump of Lamb, Mint Cous Cous, Glazed Carrots, Ratte Potato, Rosemary Jus
I’m still not sure what “Ratte Potato” is, but this was very nice too. The lamb was wonderfully tender and cut into delicate small slices and delicately positioned on top of the cous cous — but the one dampener here was that when I saw the sirloin steaks that covered in a gorgeous looking peppercorn sauce that everyone else had chosen, I wasn’t so sure I’d made the right choice. Not that there was anything wrong with the lamb — it was very nice — just that the sirloin looked even better.
Shortbread biscuit or something with liquorice ice-cream on a crème brûlée
I don’t particularly like crème brûlée, so I chose this dessert solely on the strength of the liquorice ice-cream. I’ve had that once before (courtesy of Grandma Jenny Christmas Ice Creams) and I wasn’t passing up the opportunity to have it again. The first taste of the ice-cream confirmed I’d made the right choice: it was simply divine. Goodness knows why I let anyone else try it, I should have kept it all to myself. The crème brûlée was excellent too — at least I don’t know how else to describe liking a dish I don’t generally like, but the liquorice ice-cream alone would have been sufficient to make this a magnificent dessert

(Note that the online menu is slightly out of date: you can maybe guess which of the three dishes I had was also on the older menu)

Then obviously we had a little more wine, a little more conversation, then some birthday cake which we’d brought in earlier and the staff brought out for us (which reminds me, the table service was fantastic too). Then a couple more drinks, then off to bed.

Breakfast in the morning was again of high quality — it’s not just a “full english” or “cornflakes” job here (although you can — and I did — have the Full English Breakfast): there were varieties of other dishes too, with smoked salmon being available as well as the whatever it was the GLW had with poached egg and spinach in an English muffin, which I “helped” her eat half of.

Was it worth it? You betcha it was. Do you think I would have been liberally sprinkling links to their site through this post if I hadn’t rated it? It was fantastic. If you’re in the vicinity, and you’re looking for a nice treat, and your budget will stretch to it, give it a blast. You won’t regret it.

It just goes to show: if I have particularly bad service or particularly poor quality food in a restaurant, I’ll post about that to let people know (and indeed I did earlier in the year). Similarly, if I go to a restaurant and have particularly excellent service or food, I’ll let people know about that — and Chapters Hotel was magnificent in this regard.

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2 Comments to Fantastic Restaurant, Wonky Floor

  1. the ice cream lady says:

    November 13th, 2007 at 1:36 am

    We did the Gourmet night deal in September . Staff were friendly and helpful, meal and service excellent .(pah! no liquorice ice cream when we were there but the ginger one was good) I was a bit disappointed with my smoked haddock breakfast- a bit meagre and bland but all in all good value for money.
    PS The kids had good weekend too !

  2. JackP says:

    November 14th, 2007 at 12:42 am

    Well, whaddja know – I emailed them to tell them their menu was out of date, and they got back to me within 24 hours to tell me it was fixed. That’s what I mean about quality customer service.

    For what it’s worth then, my starter was “Pan Seared Squid, Chilli & Lime Dressing On a Rocket Salad”, and my dessert was “Vanilla Crème Brûle, Shortbread Biscuit, Liquorice & Toffee Ice-Cream”.

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