Saturday, 3 February 2018

The Whitebrook, Monmouthshire Michelin-starred restaurant review

Chris Harrod, the Chef-Patron of The Whitebrook in the wilds of Monmouthshire, has held a Michelin star for 4 years.

A protégé of Raymond Blanc, Harrod’s cooking is big on classical technique but he also makes extensive use of locally foraged herbs like pennywort, three cornered garlic and hogweed. Whilst these ingredients could add up to challenging flavour combinations, there’s something reassuringly comforting about all of Harrod’s food.

Mrs G and I visited on a last minute dinner, bed and breakfast package for £199. But, the tasting 7 course tasting menu normally costs £82 a head with a 3 course dinner menu costing £68. 

Pre-dinner drinks comprised of a glass of bone dry Gutierez Colosia fino sherry (£5.50) and a Botanical (£9.95), an enjoyably floral yet dry combination of gin, elderflower and cucumber.

The interesting and delicious snacks set the tone for the rest of the meal. A crisp rye cracker was topped with a velvety chicken liver parfait and sweet quince puree. 

A golden croquette filled with soft parsnip was cut by the tang of apple puree. 

Light and sweet pumpkin puree was studded with crisp seeds and pieces of meaty spiced black pudding. A couple of slivers of pickled pumpkin provided balance. 

With the rise of sourdough in swanky restaurants, classic white loaves don’t seem to get much of a look in. The Whitebrook’s white bread was gorgeously soft with a crisp and floury crust whilst a brown loaf was fortified with the richness of stout. I’m not gonna lie, I ate four pieces of the stuff. 

Golden pieces of sweet roast Jerusalem artichoke (a few pieces were a touch under) were joined by bold flavoured goats cheese puree, crisp artichoke skins, parmesan shavings, mixed nuts and seeds, and the background fragrance of rosemary. This dish was rich as heck so the dainty portion was bang on. 

A perfectly caramelised scallop was cleverly paired with the intense fruitiness of elderberry, sweet and buttery roasted and pureed parsnip and salty rock samphire. 

A blushing breast of squab pigeon was one of the night’s standouts; it was paired with the sweet tang of forced rhubarb puree and the distinct charred notes of crispy kale and romanesco. Wild chervil, uber-smooth cauliflower puree and pine oil all brought extra interest to the dish. 

Another blindingly good dish followed. An enjoyably firm-textured fillet of brill was perched atop a pile of buttery caraway seed-flecked cabbage and a good blob of sweet onion puree. Tangy beer pickled onions provided a counterpoint but the most compelling element was a bacon foam which gave everything a twang of meat. 

Our final savoury plate was a piggy menagerie. Tender crisp-skinned suckling pig chop, spoonably tender belly and a rich flavoured head croquette were served with caramelised celeriac puree, a gorgeously meaty sauce, pretty Japanese artichokes, lamb’s sorrel and a clever stack of finely sliced roast potato and pear. The dish was brought together by cleansing uncooked pear slices. 

Pre-dessert was a big herbal hit. A pretty swirl of fragrant chamomile ice cream and intense blackberry jelly perched on top of fizzy, fruity and punchy flavoured blackcurrant sage rock.

Dessert was a light yet comforting combination of soft and sweet poached pear pieces served with crisp and buttery yoghurt crumble, light buttermilk ice cream, shards of milk crisp and a dusting of vivid green maritime powder. 

A pair of ace petit fours rounded off the meal - a sticky hazelnut sponge topped with a not too sweet chocolate ganache and a perfectly wobbly piece of quince jelly. 

Our accommodation is also worth mentioning. Our cosy double room included freshly made Welsh cakes on arrival. 

Whilst our cooked breakfast the morning after was a dainty beast that included killer Trealy farm black pudding and bacon, plump herby sausages and the most perfect poached eggs I’ve ever eaten. 

We had a stonkingly good meal at The Whitebrook. I seriously recommend a visit.

The Details:

Address - The Whitebrook, Whitebrook, near Monmouth, Monmouthshire NP25 4TX
Telephone - 01600 860 254

The Whitebrook Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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