It’s not hard to write a fair review of a hotel you really liked, or one you didn’t. It’s more difficult to summarise one that was both good and bad at the same time. So I’ll start with what was bad (because let’s be honest, it’s evaluating what people didn’t like that is most useful about these reviews) – and surprisingly, it was the dinner. I say surprisingly because we picked this hotel because of the bold claims for its food on its website, which seemed to be supported by reports here – and that is why we were so disappointed to be let down in that respect.
Started well - the menu was very encouraging with lots of interesting dishes. I chose Scallops on black pudding, followed by Guinea Fowl, my wife Leek and Potato Soup followed by fish in a caper-based sauce, and we went through to the pleasant dining room - the semi-open kitchen at one end, our table at the other right by the window overlooking the river. Seemed perfect. Which is when it began to go wrong.
It was 7.00pm, so only one waitress was serving as there only a few guests at that time. She was in the middle of serving people on the adjoining table when the chef (well somebody dressed like a chef!) chose to stick his head out from the kitchen and shout ‘SERVICE PLEASE!!’ at her. In other words – stop serving those customers and come and see what I want. He thus simultaneously insulted both the customers and the poor girl, who must have wondered what on earth she should do. I have only once seen behaviour similar, and that was years ago in a Little Chef – hardly the same thing at all. Both my wife and I were appalled.
The starters arrived. Scallops and black pudding were well-cooked, but came with some very salty cooked ham which far from adding to, detracted from the dish. My wife described her soup as ‘OK’. Call it 6/10 then.
The Guinea Fowl was another matter. It was dry, very little edible meat even for guinea fowl, over-cooked, and the sauce with it was completely tasteless. My wife’s fish was well-cooked, but again the sauce lacked flavour – she said she only knew it had capers in it because it said so on the menu. 4/10. The deserts – Crème Broule – were another matter – both were very good, 9/10. Overall – ‘OK’ but no better.
Now, in many a restaurant we might have though ‘OK’ is – well, ‘OK’. But not if the hotel claims its food is of the standard this hotel suggests (and charges for). Nor were we alone in being disappointed – we could not help but overhear the gentleman on the next table tell the waitress his steak was ‘terrible’.
We did, if not exactly complain, tell the staff afterwards, who said we could have sent the food back and chosen something else. I don’t doubt that is true, but to me what’s the point – the ‘special evening’ has by then been spoilt anyway, and if both of your chosen dishes are poor what’s the expectation of your next choice being any better?
Now two things to be fair; we only had the one meal – we stayed two nights, but after that experience ate in the (excellent) Bistro in the town on the second. And the breakfast was cooked to perfection – albeit I think by somebody different. Did we get a ‘reserve’ chef? Was he having a bad night? Has their normal chef left? Is it just over-rated? I’ve no idea, though as I say we gave the staff the opportunity to explain if there were some special reason. But I report as we found, with genuine sadness as in other respects the hotel was excellent.
Which leads me to the good bits. Our room was superb – we paid a bit extra for a superior one overlooking the river, well worth it. Cleanliness was faultless. Staff were friendly and helpful, and location is idyllic. You could find some faults – I always think a hotel of this class could send somebody in to turn down the beds and wash up any used cups etc while guests are having dinner, at £144 a night should guests do their own washing-up in a 4* hotel? But in honesty that’s just minor nit-picking, and if the dinner experience had been good it would have got a 5*. But it wasn’t, so it doesn’t. Sorry.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.