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Stoke Park's best kept secret is out of the bag
UP UNTIL April it was a secret guarded closely by its members.
A treat shared only by a privileged few – but now, finally, Stoke Park’s Humphry’s Restaurant has opened its doors to the public and the secret is out of the bag.
It is THE place to go for that special anniversary, birthday or celebration meal.
It is easy to see why the club’s members and golfers kept it to themselves all these years and its exclusivity remains one of its attractions.
From the moment you drive through those gates, up the drive past the manicured lawns and golf course you know you are in a place befitting the occasion.
The grounds have provided the backdrop for films such as Goldfinger, Tomorrow Never Dies and Bridget Jones’ Diary; and as the building invites you up its steps and through its grand doors you know something special is on the menu.
With a setting like that, and it’s history, the food has to be good – and it is.
Chef Chris Wheeler has put together an innovative British menu that leaves you wishing for that next special excuse to return to the luxury dining room which enjoys panoramic views of the Stoke Park estate and lake.
If the ambience is special so is the food – as befitting of a chef who trained with Jean Christophe Novelli.
But for the last nine years he has been thrilling Stoke Park’s members and Humphry’s two AA rosettes are a tribute to him.
With so much on the menu to choose from, I was happy to follow the recommendations of our attentive, but never intrusive waiters.
The pan-fried scallops with Celeriac puree, crispy Pancetta, Port Reduction and Caviar which came as my starter were quite simply the best I have ever tasted.
The beautifully presented dish, had been preceded by the most mouthwatering pea soup with crispy cod which, until the expertly fried scallops arrived, I had been wishing could be my main starter.
After such an introduction, the main course was going to have to go some to out-do it.
And, true to its name the Roast Supreme of duck with seared Foie Gras Escalope, parsnips puree, Green Beans and Blackberry Jus, was absolutely superb.
The flavours could not have complimented each other any better – and there was enough on the plate to leave me satisfied but still with enough room to tuck into the dessert menu.
The Humphry’s Snickers intrigued me more by name than anything and as I saw other eye-catching desserts making their way to tables I couldn’t help but wonder if I had made a mistake.
I should have known better. The dessert, a Milk Chocolate and Peanut Mousse, Salted Chocolate Caramel, Caramel Foam and Peanut Tuile, was another masterpiece from Chris’ kitchen – a stunning twist on the flavours you would expect in a Snickers.
Across the table from me, my wife, after mentioning she was a vegetarian on booking, had enjoyed the rarity of a wide and varied vegetarian menu, which offered a similar range of fine dining.
A beautifully velvety Butternut Squash Veloute with truffle shavings provided her with her starter before a main dish of Tomato and Chestnut Honey Tarte Tatin with Roasted Patty Pans and Pesto Dressing had even me, as a dedicated meat-eater casting envious glances, as she devoured her plate.
She finished with the Raspberry Mousse with White Chocolate Ganache, Pistachio Sponge, Raspberry and Vanilla Sorbet which was the perfect end to a perfect occasion.
It is not the cheapest place to go but if you want great food and a guaranteed wow factor for that special occasion, you would have to go a long way to beat it.