Review: The Wife of Bath in Wye
PUBLISHED: 10:45 17 April 2015 | UPDATED: 10:45 17 April 2015
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
A new team has transformed both the interior and the menu at this Grade II listed restaurant with rooms
There is a new energy at The Wife of Bath in Wye, where Stefano Girolami and his young team have quickly made their mark at this Grade II listed restaurant with rooms.
Half-Italian and with a father who ran restaurants in London and insisted his son train as a chef so he could step into any area of the business and run it if need be, the food industry runs in Stefano’s blood.
The former Sutton Valence pupil did indeed train for four years at Westminster Catering College and often rolls up his sleeves and cooks breakfast for guests, but it’s front of house where Stefano excels.
One of his first tasks upon taking over here just six months ago was refurbishing the restaurant at this 500-year-old building.
Kent-based designer Paul Young has done this with sensitivity and ingenuity, opening up additional window spaces in the interior walls to show off old timbers and give a view across all three dining areas from the entrance hall to the new bar.
The decor is a soft pinkish-mushroom, giving a sense of airiness without being obtrusive. The former area off the entrance hall has been converted to a dining-alcove which would be ideal for larger parties.
The restaurant will be closed for the first two weeks in May so that a conservatory can be added at the back for summer dining.
My Talented Writer Friend and I enjoyed a glass of Prosecco at the bar before taking our places at the front window table, where we began our meal with an amuse-bouche of crab cake with sweet chilli. Delicious.
From four types of artisan bread, we both chose sourdough with sun-dried tomato, accompanied by a lovely roundel of butter wrapped in a wild garlic leaf.
MTWF started with a modern take on classic Coquille St Jacques (the scallops were pancetta wrapped, accompanied by thin wands of chive flatbread), which was rendered even more yummy by a glass of Saam Mountain Sauvignon Blanc.
My choice of cumin-seared tuna saw its deliciously fresh, tart flavour cleverly offset by the sweetness of soy marshmallow and a dash of lime purée. Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc worked admirably with this clever dish with great eye and palate appeal.
Mains were equally dashing; MTWF’s paella de Marisco allowed her to sample a variety of fish cooked in different ways, including a razor clam with a breaded topping, a large mussel, a portion of red mullet, baby squid and prawn.
Served on a bed of tomato-flavoured rice with earthy notes of smoked paprika and complimented by delicate pea-shoots, this seafood feast was beautifully presented.
We both enjoyed a glass of red with our mains - Pinot Grigio Veneto for the paella and an Australian Shiraz with my confit suckling pig. This more than lived up to chef’s description of his favourite dish. The meltingly tender pork (with great crackling) had a delicate richness enhanced by the sweetness of corn purée and agave syrup.
Puddings were just too yummy to leave any out so we were treated to a taster dish of salted caramel tart with caramelised banana; chocolate delice;, lemon polenta cake and a stunning raspberry anemone.
The latter (pictured) mimicked the pink of a sea anemone complimented by white chocolate pebbles on a bed of ‘sable sand’ (created from four different types of biscuit and two of sugar). Good coffee came with hand-made chocolates and a limoncello ‘chaser’ to freshen our mouths (great tip).
Lucky me got to stay the night in the marvellous four-poster room, which has been freshly decorated in white and boasts attractive hand-made soft furnishings in a striking, modern heraldic design.
Breakfast was a treat; no menu, but the grown-up joy of just asking for what you fancy. My hot cross bun, freshly squeezed orange juice, good coffee and generous plate of scrambled egg with smoked salmon set me up for the whole day.
Service is attentive and friendly without being obtrusive, there’s plenty of parking, do note that ancient stairs might be a tad tricky for some legs; overall this Wife is definitely one to watch and admire.
Meet the chef
Your favourite dish on the menu?
I’m very happy with the menu as a whole so it’s difficult to pick out my favourite dish, but there are a couple that stand out. The confit suckling pig combines the delicate richness of the meat with the sweetness of the corn purée and agave syrup perfectly. Also the raspberry anemone with sable biscuit sand both looks and tastes delicious and brings together a variety of interesting textures.
Your top cookery tip ?
A lot of tricks help us out in the kitchen, a couple of which are useful to know when cooking at home. Always cook with a one to one ratio of butter to oil. The oil stops the butter from burning and the butter adds richness to the food. Also, if you have any fresh herbs left over in the fridge you should freeze them in olive oil in ice cube trays. This will preserve them for a lot longer and its makes it easier to take them out and add them to dishes when needed.
Who has influenced you most?
I’ve probably been most influenced by my favourite chef Aiden Byrne. He has worked at a number of phenomenal restaurants and at 22 was the youngest chef to win a Michelin Star. I strive every day to design and cook dishes as unique, innovative and overall as delicious as his.
Your must-have kitchen gadget?
Every piece of equipment has its uses but the one we use more than anything else has to be the vacuum-packing machine. It’s perfect for cleanly portioning and storing food as well as prepping food to be cooked sous vide.
Who would you love to cook for?
It would have to be Keith Floyd. He was the first TV chef I remember seeing and arguably the one who introduced me to the world of cooking. I’d love to cook for him and find out what he thinks of my food. Even if he didn’t like it we could at least talk about it over a good few glasses of wine!
What did you have for breakfast?
Normally my breakfast consists of whatever my two young children have left behind. This morning that was some buttered toast, chopped bananas and strawberries and a little yogurt!
Where: The Wife of Bath
4 Upper Bridge Street, Wye TN25 5AF
01233 812232 or firstname.lastname@example.org
What: restaurant with rooms
When: breakfast: Wed-Fri 8am-9:30am, Sat and Sun 8:30am-10am, lunch: Wed-Sun 12pm-2pm, dinner: Tue-Sat 6:30pm-9:30pm
How much: tuna with pickled cucumber £7.50, confit suckling pig £16.50, salted caramel tart £6.25