“Wow” were the only words I could manage when we approached the very lovely, verdant Llansantffraed Court Hotel on an equally lovely, sunny Welsh afternoon. The setting for this hotel is rather spectacular, vast lawns, mature trees and shrubs and nothing else in sight. The food had a lot to live up to, but happily, for the vast majority of the 6 course tasting menu, the kitchen proved more than equal to the task.
Taking a gin and tonic on the terrace with a view across the lawns was the first pleasure of the evening, well accompanied by the canapés of parmesan gougère, lamb kofta and deliciously moreish ‘popcorn cockles’. All future gin and tonics should be accompanied by these salty, crunchy little bites.
The first course proper ‘Truffle, Perl Wen’ was the only duff note of the meal, coming as it did with a very sweet custard. This isn’t my first experience of a sweet custard on a savoury dish and I’m afraid I liked it as much this time as I did before, which is to say not a lot.
By the second course we were back firing on all cylinders. ‘Foie Gras’ featured a rich pan fried piece and a ballotine both balanced by with some sweetness from a Muscat gel and texture added by flaked almonds.
The fish course of ‘Halibut’, served with crisped pancetta, truffle and artichoke was a piece of precision cooking and would have been perfect were it not for the irritation of a slab of wood where a plate should be.
The meat course, ‘Beef’ was a knockout, a blushing pink fillet of beef with an intense braised cheek, morels, bright asparagus, carrot and a meaty deep jus. Perfection.
The first dessert of ‘Strawberries’ was an artfully presented mix of elements, including macerated, freeze dried and mascarpone, delicate, pretty and light.
The ‘Chocolate’ course was my favourite, an absolute stunner with shards of cookie dumped in to an evaporated milk espuma (I had to Google it too but basically it's a foam) and Pedro Ximénez sherry poured over the top.
The food at Llansantffraed Court Hotel is seriously impressive and shows a real ambition which is very welcome, particularly given the clever composition and cooking on display. I recommend you pay them a visit!
Disclosure: I was invited to review Llansantffraed Court Hotel and my meal and stay were complimentary and was arranged by Cake Communications
Llansantffraed Court Hotel
Clytha, Llanvihangel Gobion, Monmouthshire NP7 9BA
Tel: 01873 840678