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Mulberry restaurant at Langshott Manor, Horley RH6 9LN – restaurant review

PUBLISHED: 10:49 18 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:54 18 July 2017

The 16th century Langshott Manor looks like something from a film set

The 16th century Langshott Manor looks like something from a film set

Copyright Alexander Hotels. All rights reserved.

Close to the commuter town of Horley and in the shadow of Gatwick Airport, you’ll find the tranquil sanctuary of Langshott Manor, which somehow retains its micro-climate of peace and quiet. Matthew Williams visits its highly-rated Mulberry restaurant

An example of executive chef Phil Dixon and his brigade's attention to detail and designAn example of executive chef Phil Dixon and his brigade's attention to detail and design

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine July 2017

***

Need to know:

Mulberry restaurant at Langshott Manor

Ladbroke Road, Horley, Surrey RH6 9LN.

Tel: 01293 786680.

Web: alexanderhotels.co.uk

What we ate:

Seven-course tasting menu with wine flight: £110 per person

REVIEW: When our cabby turns around and says “are you sure it’s down here, mate, I think we’ve taken a wrong turn…” we realise that even after all these years Langshott Manor remains a secret hideaway.

Five years have passed since Surrey Life last reviewed the hotel’s quaint Mulberry restaurant, which looks out over duck ponds and wisteria-covered garden walls. In that time it has racked up a third AA rosette, which puts it on a level with The Clock House in Ripley, The Latymer in Bagshot and The Tudor Room in Egham, and just behind Stovell’s in Chobham in the current guide.

The grounds of the 16th century manor are beautiful even on the dreariest of days. Fortunate then, as when we arrive Surrey is Mordor-like. One step through the historic doors and all is warm and welcoming, however. We’re met by the confident assistant restaurant manager, Andy Powell, who tells us he quit travelling around Thailand to return to work at the hotel when the role opened up. It’s that kind of place, and you can see why people fall in love with its charming grace.

A tranquil sanctuary

We take our seats at a corner table – it’s all pristine white linen, polished glass, comfy chairs, well-spaced tables and leaded windows… a tranquil sanctuary. While even the ducks have seen the sense of seeking shelter outside, the rain pitter-pattering on the pond is hypnotic. With only a little imagination we’re whisked to warmer days and pre-dinner bubbly on the terrace…

Back to the moment though and, at the quiet start of a mid-week service, we opt for the seven-course tasting menu with my wife, Sylviane, choosing the vegetarian version. As space is at a premium, I’ll focus on my side of the table but there were no shortcuts on the vegetarian option – dishes were creative, colourful, packed with flavour and matched with a separate wine selection.

Head waiter Gabriel Ion (who handles the sommelier duties on the night) is a touch nervous at the start but flourishes into a real star as the evening goes on – selling each wine and the winemakers, as well as the restaurant’s tasting selection decisions, with passion and enthusiasm. We can’t find fault in any of the matches, which play a delicate game with the pretty little plates heading out of executive chef Phil Dixon’s kitchen.

So, the food then… after all, Phil has spent 10 years twisting, crafting and innovating the Mulberry’s menu into the flourishing three AA rosette offering found today.

Following a selection of delicious breads and a couple of amuse-bouches, which pack vibrant little punches, I start with a velouté of Jerusalem artichoke with pickled pear and goats cheese. The ‘pops’ of cheese and pear add spikes of excitement and the Man family Chardonnay, from South Africa, brings a fresh cut to proceedings.

The second dish, Lydling Farm pork rillettes with smoked beetroot, pancetta and hog’s pudding is all about taste, texture and technique. The dish’s balance is spot on and the explosions of smoked beetroot pleasure the eye and palate. It’s served with a lively Elki Pedro Ximenez, from Chile.

Cherry wood smoked sea trout comes with pink grapefruit, burrata and dandelion, with a side of Yealands Estate Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand. Fish and fruit aren’t for everyone, but in the right hands can take you on an unexpected adventure. I’m later told that it’s a signature combination of Phil’s and it certainly whisks me off to warmer sunshine-drenched climes.

It will come as no surprise to readers that the spring lamb with Trapiche Malbec, from Argentina, is a star in my eyes. It’s a combination I fall in love with time and time again. Served with heritage baby carrots and rainbow chard, and a divinely light-curried backing (with intense flavour and texture from a dash of tongue), it’s immaculate.

Raspberry jelly with peach sorbet and lemon verbena set us up for the final flourish of poached English rhubarb, ginger, basil and rice pudding with a complex little glass of Clos Dady Sauternes. Delicious.

We take our coffee and petit fours to one of the pocket lounges (a series of interconnecting and cosy rooms, perfect to end the evening in) wondering how on earth it can still be possible to place this charming hotel anywhere near the ‘Secret Surrey’ bracket? Then it dawns on us that perhaps those who have found it are quite happy keeping their little piece of tranquillity and understated excellence to themselves. Sorry about that, folks…

***

3 more three AA rosette restaurants

The Clock House

Ripley, Surrey GU23 6AQ. Tel: 01483 224777. Web: theclockhouserestaurant.co.uk

Considering the expectations, The Clock House (formerly known as Drake’s restaurant) is making giant steps back to the heights it’s used to. It’s a place that’s proud of its past but fully focussed on a bright new future.

Matt Worswick at The Latymer

Pennyhill Park Hotel & The Spa, Bagshot, Surrey GU19 5EU. Tel: 01276 486156. Web: pennyhillpark.co.uk

Recently refurbished, an exciting year surely lies in wait for head chef Matt Worswick and his team. This Northern lad creates intricately-realised dishes within a relaxed atmosphere.

The Tudor Room

Great Fosters, Egham, Surrey TW20 9UR . Tel: 01784 433822. Web: greatfosters.co.uk

Currently Surrey’s only Michelin starred restaurant, head chef Douglas Balish has made this intimate dining room one of the best in the land. Expect precision cooking packed full of flavour and finesse.

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