The Five Arrows in Waddesdon
PUBLISHED: 13:31 29 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:16 20 February 2013
The Five Arrows in Waddesdon serves superb food in stylish surroundings - so why isn't it packed on a Friday night, wonders Sandra Fraser...
Having grown up on the coast I love seafood, so imagine my delight when I arrive at The Five Arrows Hotel in Waddesdon, to find a good deal of fish on the menu. But let me rewind a little. James and I live very close to the hotel, we've dropped in for drinks there at weekends, but though we eat out a lot, somehow it never heads our list of places to go.
And as we are eating some of the most delicious food we've had this year (and we've been to a couple of Michelin star holders recently), we ponder this matter further. For a Friday evening, the dining room is very quiet - though it turns out there's a pre-wedding party in the converted cart shed, but still, we're surprised at how few people are here.
It's the word "hotel," James and I agree, that makes The Five Arrows seem more imposing than welcoming - along with its formidable Victorian gothic exterior and décor that seems, frankly, a little stuffy. But the staff are friendly, helpful - even jolly - and the service is exemplary. It's far from off-putting once you're inside and ordering, proving appearances can be deceptive. What's more, there is an outdoor terrace, with beautiful trees and a garden, though granted England's not celebrated for its balmy nights.
So - to the food. After much debate and a little negotiation with James, I choose the trio of salmon (£7.50). James has the seared scallops with braised baby gem, garden peas, ceps and chicken and raisin jus (£9.50). My starter is a taste of pure summer and the textures of the keta caviar (that's salmon roe,) smoked salmon, avocado and salmon tartare perfectly complement each other. It's trumped, however, by James's choice which gets a 10 out of 10. His only moan is there are a meagre three scallops and he'd have liked more, especially as I wangle a half from his plate to see if I agree with his rating.
When his next course arrives, Whitchurch-bred rib-eye steak, marinated in truffle oil and thyme, with roast garlic mash, confit onions and Rothschild red wine sauce (£18.50), his appetite is fully satisfied. The steak is faultlessly cooked and the combinations are the right side of rich with flavours that play on the tongue like a fine wine. I've gone for half a grilled lobster with new potatoes, samphire and garlic (£16.50). It's pure coast on a plate and the side order of peeled broad beans (yum!) and seasonal baby vegetables, along with our wine, a Mouline de Duhart Baron Rothschild Lafite (£44), sets off the meal perfectly. James and I go on to order raspberry and white chocolate creme brulée (£6.50) AND a cheese board served with quince paste and oat biscuits (£8.50) which we share.
Chef Matthew Lyons has worked at Le Gavroche and the Porthminster Café, hence his brilliance with the fishy dishes.
The supper club calls - along with the odd sneaky lunch which may well stretch into the afternoon. We look likely to become regulars.
The Five Arrows
Thursday night supper club from
7-9.15pm, £7.50 per person for
a set main course, and glass of wine.
The Five Arrows Hotel,
High Street, Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire. HP18 0JE.
Tel: 01296 651727 www.thefivearrows.co.uk