We didn’t blog about The Close last time we came here because we weren’t expecting anything other than standard hotel food. However, we had a wonderful lunch on that occasion, so we are back with friends to try it again – this time I’ve got my camera and my notepad!
We are meeting our good friends Cali & Bug – who we haven’t seen for a while. We arrive first and sit in the restaurant studying our menus. Soon, we see Cali and Bug heading from the hotel car park, through the gardens, toward the restaurant.
I have a pint of Butcombe Original – a really good malty, slightly peppery session ale – and Cali has half of lager. Rock & Bug are on driving duty. Cali and I both have the crispy hen’s egg served on a nest of leaves and surrounded by a moat of mushroom velouté and small peaks of burnt apple purée. It is beautiful. Rock has the beetroot cannelloni filled with goat’s cheese and accompanied by black cherries and a sprinkle of herbs and horseradish. Beetroot & goat’s cheese seem to be staples of the modern menu but this dish is far better than most – strikingly individual. Bug has some of Cali’s crispy egg and some of Rock’s beetroot cannelloni.
Conversation runs across politics, the environment, careers, house moves, education and then more fun stuff like living in California, live music and mutual friends.
Next Rock has the pan fried stone bass fillet served with Asian greens, Thai curry sauce and crispy shallots. Crispy skin on the fish and great flavours – Rock is happy. Cali has the spinach gnocchi with cherry tomatoes, basil, olives and parmesan. The pieces of gnocchi are huge and served on an enormous number of mixed olives. Too many olives, too little imagination….disappointing. It is clumsy dish and a great shame – last time we were here Rock has an amazing vegetarian dish, full of interesting textures and flavours.
Bug has the Cep risotto with spring onions, truffle oil and parmesan. Nicely cooked and generous with the truffle oil. I have the stuffed pork fillet with savoy cabbage, bacon and a black pudding bon bon. It is really good – plenty of flavour and I do love a black pudding bon bon!
Overall, we’ve enjoyed a good lunch with only the gnocchi being unimaginative. Great to catch up with Cali & Bug – it is hard not to have a good time when you are with them!