No luxury hotel or resort today deserves recognition unless it has superlative food, and by that the gal means ingredients and dishes that customers, and prospective customers, actually want to eat. There is no time now for egotistical chefs who send out dishes that they like rather than consulting you, the guest. Local boy Luke Matthews is the top chef at the gorgeous Chewton Glen, Hampshire on the edge of England’s New Forest. We were dining in the Wine Room (no prizes for guessing that two of the walls are glass sided, holding prize bottles): the table here is set with tall silver candelabra, their branches bearing equally-tall plain white candles. Very stylish.
One lovely thing about the Wine Room is that it is not sealed off, as so many PDRs, Private Dining Rooms, would be. One corner is open, allowing a feeling of communion with the outside world. Another feature is that Luke Matthews comes out soon after you arrive and discusses the menu with you, a lovely touch. We were eating à la carte, which was so much more personal, and sensible, for a table of seven. This is Chewton Glen’s gourmet dining, featuring as many local products as possible – if it must be ‘foreign’, the rest of the UK will do. The home-made breads include a superb olive-studded sourdough. Dishes feature maximum local produce, say stunning tomatoes from the Isle of Wight, and Jurassic Coast veal, here served with tomato fondu oregano and a tempura-ed courgette flower.
I went north of the border, to Scotland, namely a bone-in ribeye, 28-day aged, from Donald Russell, which has a Royal Warrant from The Queen, presumably supplying her when she is at Balmoral. One of the other dishes, by the way, was somewhat more demanding of the chefs, named pressed duck’s liver with gingerbread, macadamia and pineapple. And then, as the candelabra candles reached the end of their lifespan, to retreat upstairs. I knew that by 6.30 a.m., when the wellness facilities open, my New York Times would be hanging in a chic grey bag outside Room 74. In the spa/wellness area, indeed, there were some people already swimming, looking up at the pool’s trompe l’oeil ceiling. Others were trying the various vitality stations.
Next, after a good shower, it was breakfast, another outstanding meal. The small jars of yoghurt,pecially made by a local Hot Jam Lady, Angela-Jeanne Trickett, and paper ‘bottles’ of Rosemary Water, from rosemarywater.com, give a clue that breakfast’s products are local and organic. The buffet is copious and you choose a main course. One in our party designed his own dish, eggs with baked beans and that traditional English favourite, fried bread. I dared to be different, too, going for the menu’s poached eggs with crushed avocado, as shown above. I am already getting a substantial appetite to return to this unforgettable resort. NOW SEE A VIDEO OF THE BREAKFAST BUFFET