Review: Stoke Place
"The chefs are clearly making use of Mr Lamb’s legacy, with a glorious display of culinary prowess."
Situated in the heart of the Stoke Poges, near Slough, Stoke Place is a strikingly beautiful 17th century mansion. As the country house was built by Patrick Lamb – master cook to King Charles II and Queen Anne, amongst other royal family members – you might expect a very high level of cooking to still be going on behind the imposing front gates.
Luckily, it doesn’t disappoint. From first introduction, the atmosphere of opulence is palpable, with a roaring fire in the reception area bringing a homely feel and immediately putting you at ease.
The rooms are fabulous – the sizeable bed takes centre stage, and tasteful soft furnishings offer the perfect place to relax and enjoy the view outside across the sprawling lawn, in the type of silence and feeling of tranquillity that only this kind of secluded hotel can offer.
Heading into the restaurant, another warm welcome awaits as you’re shown to your table in what is an intimate and friendly setting.
But, what of the food? The chefs are clearly making use of Mr Lamb’s legacy, with a glorious display of culinary prowess. An ambitious starter of duck two ways – a sticky hoisin breast accompanying a rich and aromatic confit leg croquette – is served atop a warm carrot and ginger purée and the sharp lift of mango and sesame compote to balance the rich flavours. A similarly deft balancing act of flavours is achieved with the roulade of rabbit, which combines the familiar gamey depth of the meat with spiky pickled mushrooms, a smooth butternut squash purée and the mineral lift of kohlrabi remoulade.
Onto the mains and the quality doesn’t let up. A hearty rib-eye cut of 28-day dry aged Hereford beef has exquisite marbling and a taste that would put far more expensive establishments to shame. With beef of that quality, it only needs the classic accompaniments, which Stoke Place delivers – peppercorn sauce, vine tomatoes and hand-cut chips that rustle as you move them.
If you’re after something a little lighter, go for the hake – crisped to perfection on a bed of Jerusalem artichoke purée, the traditional fish formula is made a little more ambitious with baked shallots and a glossy red wine reduction. If you’re still wanting for more, the dark chocolate tart takes some beating – and if you usually find chocolate desserts a little rich, the adornment of clementine curd allows you to finish your meal enormously satisfied without overdosing on sugar.
As you retire back to your room, it’s impossible to feel anything other than very fortunate and remarkably well looked-after. Stoke Place doesn’t rest on the laurels of its heritage – the current team are still delivering the goods, 300 years after the mansion was built.
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