Restaurant Review: Humphry’s at Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire
Stoke Park is a place that wows you from the minute you set eyes on the mansion building. As I made my way up the front steps I could feel the excitement and anticipation rising over what the evening had in store for me. As I walked through the elegant halls and took in the high ceilings, mirrored walls, large chandeliers and classic décor I felt like I had stepped into a world full of forties film star glamour. I was shown through to Stoke Park’s main eatery, Humphry’s, which echoed the opulence of the rest of the hotel aided by the low lighting, beige and cream décor, comfortable seating and forties music playing in the background.
The restaurant holds 3 AA Rosettes and is headed up by executive chef, Chris Wheeler, who joined Stoke Park in 2003. Chris has worked alongside Jean-Christophe Novelli and in a number of Michelin-star restaurants as well as appearing on TV’s Hells Kitchen with the French chef. He is a member of the Craft Guild of Chefs and cooks seasonal British cuisine with European influences using locally sourced ingredients.
After taking a seat and having a chat with my friendly Scottish waiter I was presented with an amuse bouche of smoked salmon, beetroot cubes, beetroot jus and orange jus. My first thought was one of worry, I am not a fan of smoked salmon and would never order it myself. Luckily my dining partner was at the ready should I need to dispense some of the portion onto his plate (after I had tried it, of course). I am pleased to write that it was delicious – it is the only smoked salmon I have eaten all of and loved. I cannot think why I liked this so much compared to the other times I have tried it, perhaps it was the smooth texture or the fact that it wasn’t too heavily smoked, but either way, I liked it and my companion was disappointed that he didn’t get an extra portion!
Next up was my choice of starter; pan fried scallops with celeriac purée, crispy pancetta and caviar. (Note to self – stop ordering scallop starters!) Clearly my favourite choice of starter and I can see why- it was a truly delightful dish with a great combination of tastes and textures from the soft, plump scallops to the crispy, salty pancetta.
For the main event I went for the pan fried pave of halibut with leek, butternut squash and sorrel risotto with marinated artichokes. When the plate arrived I was slightly disappointed with the fact that a third of the plate was made up of artichokes, it’s one of the few vegetables that I dislike. But I knew it was coming with it and I ordered the dish for the other components so I tried the artichoke in case I had another smoked salmon moment (nope) and disposed of it onto the other half’s plate (he was thrilled, he loves the stuff.) Back to the best two thirds of my plate and it made up for the aforementioned veg. The crispy edged halibut was meaty yet delicate as expected, the risotto creamy and tasty and the deliciously sweet butternut squash fitted the dish perfectly.
My savoury side satisfied I moved on to my dessert of the famed ‘Humphrey’s Snickers,’ a combination of flavours designed to taste just like a Snickers chocolate bar. The plate was filled with milk chocolate and peanut mousse, salted chocolate caramel, caramel foam and a peanut tuile. I thoroughly enjoyed this de-constructed dessert and it left my taste buds wanting more.
I completed my meal with a cheese and biscuit selection and sampled a fine offering of English and French cheeses, crackers and chutney, which left me feeling rather full of delicious fare, a glamorous forties movie star I did not feel!
In a nutshell
The food was good quality and cooked to a high standard didn’t blow my socks off. It was a delicious meal and enjoyable evening nonetheless. I left the restaurant feely fully satisfied and my waiter was very friendly, knowledgeable and great at his job.