The Manor at Foxhills, Ottershaw KT16 0EL - restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 15:26 03 September 2013 | UPDATED: 14:05 08 September 2014
Celebrating 30 years in the ownership of the Hayton family, Foxhills is set to host the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards later this year. As such, it seemed only fitting that Matthew Williams visited to sample the hotel's award-winning The Manor restaurant
Reviewed: The Manor at Foxhills, Ottershaw, Surrey KT16 0EL. Tel: 01932 704480
What we ate
Seared Shetland Isles Scallops served with Chervil Cauliflower Cous Cous and Caper Purée, £9.95
Kentish Black Pudding and Pancetta Scotch Egg served with Choucroute and Saffron Apple Chutney, £9.25
Loin of Shropshire Venison served with Roasted Patty Pan, Crockford Bridge Farm Blackberry Compote and a Light Rosemary Jus, £22
Slow Cooked Supreme of South Coast Cod served with Spiced Puy Lentils, Fois Gras, Red Cabbage and Vanilla Purée, £23
Traditional British Farmhouse Cheese chosen from independent dairies and farms, £9.75
White Chocolate Fondant served with Crockford Bridge Farm Raspberry Compote and Elderflower Jelly, £9.75
One bottle of Chateau Gachon, Montagne Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France, £38
Arriving on a less than balmy early summer evening, my wife and I were somewhat surprised to note hardy golfers still packing the fairways either side of the tree-lined driveway that welcomes visitors to Foxhills near Ottershaw.
Pulling into the Aston Martin and Ferrari showroom that passes as the members’ car park, the magnificent 19th century manor building appeared out of the gloom like the architectural star of a Conan Doyle novel.
Taking its name from the mercurial 18th century politician Charles James Fox – a man with a passion for food, wine and gracious living – Foxhills proudly upholds standards that the great man would surely approve of today.
Having received an AA rosette, The Manor is the hotel’s showpiece restaurant. Tucked away to the side of the expansive but homely bar, which offers views out onto the golf course and a terrace for the warmer days, it is here that executive chef David Hanlon and his team have gained a steadily growing reputation for the dishes they concoct.
Proud of his young kitchen team, which has an average age of around 23, David says that while some bring traditional French cooking values there are also a number of potential Heston Blumenthals among the brigade. Creativity is encouraged, although he occasionally needs to tighten the rein on some of their more ambitious concoctions.
Attention to detail is such that they have their own smokehouse on-site and regularly experiment with the chips used to add new flavours to their fish.
Dinner is served
The restaurant itself has a classic décor with murals of musicians adorning the walls and, in the evening, light, funky blues music melds with diners’ chatter in the background.
With orders having already been taken in the relaxed surrounds of the Manor Lounge, our bottle of Saint-Émilion was swiftly brought to the crisp linened table along with fresh water and a selection of bread including herb, tomato, rye and white.
Starters took the form of scallops, with a tangy citrus hit from orange and textures from cauliflower, and an ingenious black pudding ‘scotch egg’ that started life as a hospitality snack but was transformed into a deliciously fun starter: crisp on the outside, flavour overload from the black pudding and gooey egg inside.
As a venison fan, for my main course, I opted for the game with roasted patty pan squash, Crockford Bridge Farm blackberry compote and light rosemary jus, despite the steaks on the grill menu battling for favour. The best venison dish I’ve had previously was served with a chocolate sauce but the blackberry accompanying the melt-in-the-mouth meat certainly pushed it close.
On the other side of the table, Sylviane went for the slow cooked supreme of South Coast cod, which saw the juxtapositions of spiced puy lentils, fois gras and vanilla purée combine magnificently.
While reasonably quiet on the evening we were there – it was midweek after all – service was relaxed but efficient throughout. Surrounding guests, ranging from couples enjoying a romantic evening to father/son combos looking forward to the challenges of the golf course the following day, seemed as satisfied as we felt.
Chef David did the rounds as we mopped up the remains of our main courses and I overheard him mention to another guest that he’d left the kitchen in the hands of his young team for the evening, while he tackled the admin. Such was his confidence, he said, that he was sure that they’d have exceeded expectations. Right he was too.
While the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards won’t be taking place inside The Manor itself, David’s team works across Foxhills’ various restaurants and it had quickly become apparent that their enthusiasm and skill would be perfectly suited to celebrating the best that Surrey has to offer.
The perfect finish
As the evening drew to a close, Sylviane cast her expert eye over the cheeseboard chosen from independent dairies and farms, while I sated my sweet tooth with a white chocolate fondant with Crockford Bridge Farm raspberry compote and elderflower jelly.
Leaving, with the sun long set and even the keenest of golfers having made their way to the bar or bed, we felt we’d have happily seen in the dawning of a new day on this 400-acre estate. Suffice to say though, as a non-golfer, I feel that the best courses at Foxhills were definitely on the menu.
3 more great hotel restaurants in Surrey
Cloisters Restaurant @ Nutfield Priory
Nutfield Road, Redhill RH1 4EL. Tel: 01737 824 400
Dating back to 1872, on entering the dining hall at Nutfield Priory, you could be forgiven for speaking in a hushed tone and assuming the religious reverie that comes with a visit to an historic abbey.
Michael Wignall’s The Latymer @ Pennyhill Park
London Road, Bagshot GU19 5EU. Tel: 01276 471774
Having become Surrey’s first double-Michelin star restaurant last year, chef Michael Wignall has made a huge impact since taking the reins in 2007. In the 2012 AA Restaurant Guide, it was one of only eight UK restaurants to achieve a mighty five AA rosettes.
1907 @ Brooklands Hotel
Brooklands Drive, Weybridge KT13 0SL. Tel: 01932 335710
Aptly-named after the year the world-famous Brooklands racetrack was built and opened, this restaurant and cocktail bar offers a stylish experience within a 1920’s and 30’s inspired setting.