Restaurant Review: The Beaufort Dining Room at Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham in Gloucestershire
Cheltenham’s elegant hotel, Ellenborough Park, which sits in the racecourse grounds, hosts The Beaufort Dining Room, a 3 AA Rosette awarded restaurant.
Run by executive chef, David Kelman, winner of the Welsh heat of The Great British Menu in 2015, the restaurant offers up British cuisine artfully presented and full of colour.
My dining partner, Nick, and I enjoyed dinner in the sumptuous space, which started with a selection of canapés – mushroom fritter, thin rye with pea purée and pancetta – and a bread wheel – tomato, white and an oaty brown. For my starter I opted for the ‘Confield Cotswold chicken and mushroom terrine with pea, shallot and pickled shimiji,’ which was colourful, varied and full of different textures. This was a light dish with the terrine flavour being uplifted by the tastier elements on the dish (a cheesy tuille, mustard, tiny salted jelly cubes). I thought this was quite a summery dish for my autumn visit and the tuille was overdone.
Nick’s starter of ‘Cornish crab and cod scotch egg with cucumber and melon salad’ earned a nine out of ten from him. It looked simple and colourful and Nick enjoyed the fact that it was a traditional picnic item that had been elevated to a high level. He said the egg was runny, there was plenty of meat and the outer was crispy. The cucumber was chargrilled and he even liked the melon (he’s not a big fan!)
For our wine pairings I asked for a recommendation and thoroughly enjoyed my glass of Pinot Noir (Omero, Williamette Valley, Oregon, USA), which was smooth, silky and delicious. Nick likes a white so he was offered a glass of Pinot Gris (The Bolney Estate, Sussex, England), which he said was tasty and suited his food really well.
I’m a beef lover so for my main I had the ‘roasted Longhorn beef fillet with a cep crust, haricot beans, wild mushrooms and an artichoke and parmesan purée.’ The beef was of top quality and the gravy smelled divine and tasted just as good. It was a very hearty, homely and heart-warming dish with varying rich and sweet flavours combining with differing textures. There was a little too much going on on the plate with the beans and the purée having a very similar effect – I would remove the beans to simplify the dish a little and it would get full marks from me!
Nick enjoyed a helping of ‘hand dived king scallop, wild sea bass, sweetcorn, courgette, brown shrimp and spring onion bon bon and a crab bisque.’ He thought the fish had been cooked well and said it had a ‘lovely crispy skin,’ he also liked the scallop but felt that one wasn’t enough – well they were nice! – and could have had a smaller piece of fish instead. The bisque was thick, rich and deep in flavour and there was a lot of colour on the plate. He wasn’t a fan of the sweetcorn but he did like the bon bon, claiming it to be delicious with a crispy thin outer.
Low, soft instrumental music guided us through the night and our table was in front of a curved window seat, which was a little close to another pair of diners also on the long seat, but certainly offered us the best seat in the room. The restaurant was sumptuous, low lit and busy with lots of velvet, reds, golds and beige with wood panelled walls to keep the classic feel and have you feeling relaxed for the evening. A large stone fireplace was a centre point and had decorative panelling above, while silver framed mirrors were dotted about and lightened up the wood walls.
For our desserts we were spoiled for choice, making the decision quite difficult. We had spied a baked Alaska being flambéed at the table for dramatic effect and the varied cheese trolley, which was being wheeled around the room to other diners caught our eye. Eventually Nick opted for the cheeses and, after some thorough explanations of the each cheese, he opted for an Isle of Wight soft blue, a Cotswold Brie, Leonard Stanley Cheddar and an ash dusted Cerney Pyramid. He was also offered some grapes, celery, chutney jelly and crackers and was very satisfied with his choices.
I chose well with a fruity dish consisting of ‘textures of Cox’s farm raspberries, chocolate disc and raspberry sorbet.’ This was a playful end to the meal with a striped dark chocolate disc in shades of red, pink and brown holding steady a pink cone filled with raspberry sorbet. A raspberry jelly, panna cotta and whole berries sat on the plate as well as tiny meringue pieces with a purée inside. This was a delicate, eye-catching and delicious dish – my favourite course of the night.
In a nutshell
The Beaufort Dining Room offers elegant, relaxed dining in a beautiful room showcasing the hotel’s 15th century heritage. Friendly service follows you through the hotel with dinner service regular, helpful and informative – the wine choices were spot on for us both. The food is full of colour, flavour and texture with perhaps a little too much going on with some of the dishes, but all are very tasty, with the desserts being the stars of the show.
Address: Cheltenham Rd, Southam, Cheltenham GL52 3NJ / 01242 545454 / ellenboroughpark.com