The Vineyard at Stockcross - Restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 11:48 29 September 2016
Intriguing dishes served with feeling and carefully matched wines that provide new dining experiences
Head chef Robby Jenks definitely had some big shoes to fill when he took over from Daniel Galmiche earlier this year. I imagine it’s the culinary equivalent of moving into the editor’s chair at a newspaper or magazine – you want to make your own mark, attract new fans but not disappoint the loyal following of previous years.
Six months on from his appointment we can safely say that Robby, who came from Amberley Castle in Sussex, has led and shaped a team producing spectacular results. It’s clear he is meticulous about taste, presentation and texture. Indeed, it is the latter of these we will start with because you can’t help but suspect he has a particular interest here. Flavours definitely burst in the mouth, but the sensations the ingredients create at least match the tangs. His courses really deserve taking your time over to appreciate the full experience.
We noted the ‘texture thing’ before spotting on the menu that one of our chosen mains - pan fried trout – was actually described as coming with ‘textures of cauliflower, coconut and curry’. But many of the dishes take you on a journey of silky smooth to light and crispy crunch.
What you also have here is very pretty presentation but no unnecessary froth – every addition to the plate has a part to play beyond looking stunning. We enjoyed the lunch menu (three courses for £29 with matching wines at £7, £12 or £18 a glass should you wish). As you’d expect at this hotel owned by the wine-loving Michael family for 20 years, and winner of 2015 European Hotel Wine list of the Year, the picks from a cellar with 30,000 bottles are superb.
The three course choices are well balanced and if we could give extra stars it would be for the decent-sized portions, exemplary service and gluten-free options. There’s excellent attention to detail here as dishes are gently amended to mirror the gluten-in versions rather than appearing at table with significant ingredients missing (listen up lazy kitchens!).
And it says something when the vegetarian main option is actually one of the stars of the show, featuring roasted beetroot, goats’ curd and rocket. Other mains that day included roasted Aylesbury duck and Oxfordshire lamb.
It all has you wanting to return for more, perhaps the tasting menu options. The Discovery Tasting Menu includes River Kennet crayfish ravioli (five dishes £75, with cheese £85, wine pairings £55); or the spectacular Judgement Tasting Menu (seven dishes £89, with cheese £99, wine pairings £95). The latter pays homage to the 1976 ‘Judgement of Paris’ when world experts unknowingly chose Californian equivalents over French wines.
About The Vineyard
Perfect for a West Berkshire stay or day out, the five AA Red Star hotel has a three AA Rosette restaurant and award-winning indulgent spa. See the-vineyard.co.uk for offers, events and Christmas bookings.
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