Eastwell Manor hotel, restaurant and spa review
PUBLISHED: 14:05 23 May 2014 | UPDATED: 14:05 23 May 2014
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
Win your own luxury break to this beautiful venue near Ashford
Rambling and romantic, Eastwell Manor evokes an Elizabethan idyll, centred on a courtyard and surrounded by immaculate gardens. Beyond the grounds, fields sprouting with new wheat amble up to a skyline fringed with ancient woodland.
The Hugo de Montford suite, where we stayed, consists of two huge rooms (£265 to £370 per night). Call it a writer thing, but what I loved most was that there was not only a desk but also a huge table in the bay window complete with fruit bowl, water and complimentary decanters of sherry.
The main room has comfortable seating, including a three-piece suite. The double bed is of generous proportions and some rooms also have four-posters.
The bathroom (big enough for a party), has a sofa for two and side table, shower cubicle and corner bath. The window seat overlooks exquisite lawns, neatly clipped hedges and an Italianate fountain.
Decor is country house-style. Charming in a slightly time-worn, 1930s fashion, it encourages you to kick off your shoes and get comfortable. I thought this would be a great place to stay with friends and, feet up on the sofa, chat late into the night.
I was right. The next day I met a group of ladies representing four generations of one family who make an annual pilgrimage to Eastwell and were keen to extol the hotel’s virtues and “give credit where it is due.”
Pre-prandial drinks can be taken in the elegant bar which boasts a selection of more than 120 whiskies – one of the largest in Kent with prices ranging from £6.50 per glass for a standard glass to £105 per glass for a rare Ardbeg 1974 Single Islay Malt.
The Manor’s oak-panelled restaurant, complete with pianist, has been voted the UK’s fifth most romantic by The Times. We were ably looked after by friendly assistant restaurant manager Sergio Gomes.
Dishes from the à la carte menu are priced from £9.50 to £17.50 for starters, £26.50 to £29.50 for mains with all desserts at £8.50. There is also a three-course set menu (three choices per course) for £35.
We began the meal with a glass of Eastwell Manor Bauchet Origine Brut (£12 a glass, £39.95 a bottle) and were offered hot, home-made bread rolls with a choice of white, brown or ‘charred bran and honey.’
My Foodie Companion chose terrine of confit duck leg and marinated foie gras to start, a beautifully presented dish. A generous square of terrine consisting of alternate layers of confit and foie gras was complemented by pieces of crispy duck skin, pickled rhubarb, shitake mushrooms and polka dots of rhubarb purée.
I chose pan-fried scallops, which were tender, sweet and meaty and served with delicate slivers of roasted cauliflower, a purée of capers and raisins, a creamy cumin and white wine sauce, a floret of Romano broccoli and a fresh micro-green dressing.
Sergio suggested a delightful zingy white wine from New Zealand as the accompaniment for both dishes: Torea Oystercatcher Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough (£7.50 a glass, £29 a bottle).
Our main dishes were both witty re-interpretations of classic dishes. MFC chose the roasted sirloin of Kentish beef, cooked rare as requested (£29.50) and loved the surprise of bone marrow and shredded meat within the fondant potato.
A dark, mellow, fruity Cabernet Sauvignon – Reserve de Rafèque (£5.75 a glass, £23 a bottle) – was declared the ideal match.
My modestly named roasted loin of pork (£26.50) also delighted. Delicately smoky, the pork was served in small rounds to resemble a sausage on a bed of sauerkraut.
Marble-sized apple balls lent a shot of tartness while the mash was topped with a scrumptious smoky sauce.
The perfect accompaniment was a Chilean wine: Apaltagua Reserva Riesling (£7.50 a glass, £28 a bottle).
“There’s always room for pudding,” said Sergio sagely, as MFC chose a chocolate fondant with malted milk and brandy ice cream. Worth the extra 10-minute wait, the fondant was soufflé-light and with a comforting hint of his favourite bedtime drink.
I indulged in locally grown apples and blackberries. Once again a complex dish that belied the simplicity of its name, it combined cinnamon parfait with blackberry sorbet and apple compote.
Coffee and delicious petits fours (£4.50) were taken in the cosy, candlelit lounge.