Restaurant Review - WinePress at the Donnington Valley Hotel
PUBLISHED: 00:16 07 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:39 20 February 2013
Mary Cherowbrier is delighted to stay the course at the WinePress Restaurant at the Donnington Valley Hotel, near Newbury...
Surrounded by a parkland golf course, the Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa is a favourite haunt for many devotees of the sport. However, on a chilly winters night,it was not the glorious greens that drew us to this four- star establishment near Newbury.
Food was to the fore in our minds as we settled down at a comfortable alcove table in the hotels WinePress Restaurant. A high vaulted ceiling gives a feeling of space and unobtrusive music offers a relaxed ambiance.
Studying the menu, we were offered a range of breads the pepper one was particularly delicious. Food choices made, the helpful and enthusiastic sommelier, Chris Neeves, gave us his suggestions to accompany them. He looked crestfallen when told I was driving, so could not do justice to his extensive wine list. Fortunately, my husband was happy to judge the grape. However, the one glass of wine that Chris chose for me, a 2009 Trinity Hill Pinot Noir from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand was sublime light, but bursting with deep flavour.
To start, I selected goats cheese red pepper strudel with watercress salad the pungent cheese, juicy peppers, crunchy pine nuts and spicy watercress really hit the spot.
My other halfs choice was fresh pea soup with intriguing-sounding smoked bacon powder and mint crme frache. He pronounced it scrummy. This was accompanied by a fresh-tasting 2009 Friuli Isonzo, Sauvignon Blanc Palmadina.
My main course was breast of pheasant, with parsnip mash, Parma ham and braised red cabbage. Pheasant can be tricky to cook a brace I pot-roasted once turned out so stringy that it ended up inside the stomach of our very grateful dog!
No such problems here, the pheasant was the best I have ever tasted succulent and tender. The sweet-tasting cabbage, crunchy beans and subtle parsnip mash were perfect partners for the meat.
My husbands fillet of salmon with puy lentil cassoulet and confit fennel was a fabulous mix of flavours, washed down with a quality light Italian red Friuli Venezia Giulia.
The portions were generous, but we managed dessert. My Trio Citric Delight featured a sublime orange custard pot, a mini lemon tart tasty, although I would have preferred thinner pastry and a palate-cleansing grapefruit sorbet.
As a treacle tart connoisseur, there was only one dessert choice for my companion and watching him tuck into the generous plateful, which came with clotted cream, I could tell he did not regret it.
We left the hotel feeling as happy as if wed nailed a hole-in-one the WinePress restaurant is definitely way above par.
BOOK A TABLE
The WinePress Restaurant
The Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa,
Old Oxford Road, Donnington, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 3AG
Tel: 01635 551199 www.donningtonvalley.co.uk