We stayed at the Pheasant for 3 nights at a rate which included dinner on two nights and breakfast on three.
The dining room is lovely, in muted shades of grey/green with an elaborate flower display in the centre. Sadly, realistic as it looks, it's artificial. This does not quite set the tone for an aspiring high-end restaurant. If I'm paying this much I want real food and real flowers. It's also got quite loud piped music; from memory mostly Swing, Jazz and Lounge. I find it odious and nothing to do with enjoying a meal. Do most diners like it?
Service was (mostly) enthusiastic from young staff, a mixture of local and Eastern European men and women. However, on one evening our waiter was more engaged by the only other couple in the restaurant and we were left to pour our own wine. It is acceptable in a bistro but at these prices it is not.
Several dishes were outstanding. The cannelloni of crab and cucumber was wonderfully fresh and tasty. The roast sirloin was excellent. The salmon was served with salmon skin crackling - an interesting invention. The lemon thyme pannacotta was delicious and, interestingly made without gelatine.
The wine list is interesting and arranged not by region or by grape variety but by price, with a page of whites and another of reds. This is followed by pages of more detailed description of each wine. There are some lovely wines here. Mark-ups are what you would expect from a fine-dining restaurant.
Tea, taken in the bar, was a big disappointment. Service was slow. One scone each. I was expecting plain scones but they were fruit scones and very overcooked - closer to rock cakes than scones. There were three tiny "cakes" each. One was a strawberry/lemon curd tart, pleasant but not a cake. The other two were very chocolatty but neither was a cake in consistency. A slice of Victoria sponge would have gone down well. For £16:99 a head there was a choice of filling of one sandwich each. One of us had smoked salmon and cream cheese, the other has Wensydale cheese and shallot chutney. The sandwiches were cut into quarters (crusts left on) and were on standard, shop-bought sliced bread. For some reason each had some sort of frisée leaves mixed in with the rest of the filling. The smoked salmon was nothing special but the addition of the leaves made it unpleasant. Some went back uneaten. I had been expecting a slice (or slices) of cheese with chutney on them. What I got was an unpleasant mixture of grated cheese, chutney and curly salad leaves. This was falling out of the sandwich each time I tried to take a bite - messy. The leaves added nothing. Why grated cheese? Perhaps appropriate for catering use but not for an upmarket hotel.
Give the expensive, unpleasant tea a miss but do eat in the restaurant. Maybe they will ditch the unnecessary canned music in all the public rooms?
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