This was our third (or possibly fourth) visit to this magical place. We'd heard of all the problems that had hit the previous proprietors, so wondered how it was getting on under the new owner and chef, Chris Harrod.
No amount of strife can affect the unique beauty of this location. It's just so quiet, so peaceful, and so full of natural beauty. You go to sleep to the babble of the eponymous brook in the valley outside, and wake to the sound of birdsong. We went for walk, which takes you up into the hills behind the Crown, and brings you back down on the road a mile or so away; wish we'd taken the appropriate footwear as, not surprisingly, it got more than a little wet underfoot. But it still made a splendid appetiser, and pre-prandial drinks put us in the mood for dinner.
Which was worth waiting for, and memorably delicious. My starter was plump mackerel - perhaps a touch lacking in flavour, but beautifully presented - and other half had the squab pigeon, which she pronounced 'perfect' (it can sometimes have a texture akin to uncooked hot-water bottle). Both of us went for the beef for our main, a cut called 'feather-bone', which requires long, long, slow cooking. This was truly amazing - melting in the mouth in the most sensual way, and packed with flavour. Generous portions too, which is good, because I'm greedy.
Deserts lived up with ease to the same standard, the only quibble being that my wife thought the description of her wonderful lemony, elderflowery, creamy, apply thing was too vague; but you can see the problem - how do you put that into words? All of this was preceded by delicious canapes and amuse bouches, and accompanied by a very nice South African white.
In the morning we were served by a lovely Spanish guy. The breakfast lived totally up to expectations; and a special mention for the coffee, which was so delicious - velvety smooth yet nice and strong. Our Spanish friend confirmed that a lot of thought had gone into that, with the installation of a super-duper coffee machine; it's paid off!
The Crown is going places now, i.e. straight back to the top where it belongs - but without compromising the friendly charm that makes it so relaxing. It might struggle for write-ups in the nationals, because their food-writers only really want to eat in London, and immediately lapse into sarcastic or patronising mode if they're more than 30miles from Piccadilly. But I'm sure Harrod and his fine team can cope with that! There can't be a lovelier place to spend some time in the whole of the UK.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A restaurant with rooms set in the beautiful Wye Valley, 5 miles from Monmouth and just an hour from Bristol and Cardiff, The Whitebrook is a haven from the stresses of modern day life.The Whitebrook is an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding Wye Valley and other areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, Tintern Abbey on the River Wye and the famous Offa's Dyke path ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Crown At Whitebrook Hotel Whitebrook
- Crown Hotel Whitebrook
- The Whitebrook Wales