Restaurant Review: Peels Restaurant at Hampton Manor, Hampton in Arden in Solihull
As British as it gets, with Victorian inspiration too, and with proud use of its own kitchen garden ingredients, Peel’s Restaurant offers a different approach by drawing on inspiration from within. The extra touches that have become expected with Michelin Starred eateries are there to see – and consume! Expect cucumber water and beetroot to taste while you peruse the recycled-paper drinks menu (try the raspberry Bellini, it’s fruity, fizzy and refreshing).
The Birmingham based restaurant, which sits in the leafy outskirts inside Hampton Manor also holds 4 AA Rosettes and is run by head chef, Rob Palmer. I popped along one sunny evening in May to sample the dinner menu alongside my lucky guest, Nick. Sitting in the grand drawing room sipping on the aforementioned cucumber water, I took in the golds, florals and mostly off-white décor, which held a mixture of low, comfy sofas and chairs, which I really didn’t want to move from, in fact, I could have fallen asleep there! The large, light room had high ceilings and large windows to let the light in, and reflected the grandeur of the 19th century former home of the Peel family.
Expect hand painted stained glass, carved oak bannisters and marble topped tables in the 15 bedroomed hotel, which also houses the tasting room, The Library and Elizabeth’s Court; unique dining settings encompassing different areas of the hotel for various numbers of guests.
Back to the drawing room where I sipped on a raspberry Bellini while sampling a selection of delectable canapés – cheese and shallot, venison and mushroom, and salt cod – all of which came on deliciously crisp crackers or breads and were served on rocks for creative flair! We made our dinner choices – the menu is rather brief so there’s a bit of a surprise coming unless you ask a waiter to explain, which they will happily do.
The dining room was calling so we moved to the next room and started with an amuse bouche of warm potato mousse with thyme oil on vinegar puffs. We both decided that they were lovely, flavoursome and a new tasting for us. The dining room was quite the opposite of the drawing room in terms of its décor – dark wood panelling sat on the bottom half of the walls and deep, dusky floral patterned wallpaper combined with low lighting created a dark, but cosy, setting. A plasterwork ceiling and glorious, decorative wood fireplace finished off the British manor house room, while low music and chatter from diners created a warming ambience.
Now, I like a bit of good atmosphere and all but I’m really in it for the food so let me move on swiftly beginning with my starter of asparagus with chicken, burrata and egg yolk, where I was faced with a lovely spring dish that was rich in flavour. Wye Valley green and white asparagus spears were laid upon the thick and creamy egg yolk and held a crispy chicken wing and gently flavoured burrata cheese, with lots of little crispy pieces scattered all over. A glass of Italian white wine freshened up the dish and I was really pleased with the classic combinations and the variety of textures.
Nick opted for mushroom with “Berkswell cheese on toast.” With a little Marmite on there too and a healthy helping of consommé, Nick said the “fantastic” dish held lots of lovely, rich, deep flavours. He claimed that it “packed a punch” with the consommé lightening the flavours on the dish slightly and three types of mushroom proving to be delicious. He also happily exclaimed that it was “the best Marmite on toast” he had ever had!
My main course of monkfish was up next and it was served with kohlrabi, miso and coriander. The miso was fermented and the plate was graced with samphire and pak choi. I really could have done with some crispy potato or something similar as I think it would improve this dish and there was a flavour in there that just wasn’t for me so I found it difficult to enjoy this dish. Nick had more luck with his main course of beef, cauliflower and black garlic and said the moist, tender beef was scrumptious, while barbecued cauliflower and the garlic offered some nice flavours. There was bone marrow on the plate, which Nick thought wasn’t needed, though he liked, and he loved the Oregon based wine that was selected for him. In fact, each wine had gone down very well with us both and they were explained with detail. Each time a plate had been brought to our table it was also accompanied with a description of the dish in detail and sometimes where the idea of it had originated. This added to the whole experience, and the service had been fantastic all evening too!
We had a vanilla, buttermilk and passion fruit caramel for pre dessert, which was cool, refreshing and tasty, and we were handed a glass of Moscato D’Asti, which I loved. “Tea and cake” was my choice of dessert on this occasion and the interesting combination of flavours, especially from the earl grey ice cream were very nice. Uplifted by the fizzy drink and sweet bergamot gel, the dense honey cake and flavourful ice cream all worked in unison to produce a lovely dessert. Decorated with colourful flowers and petals too, this was a winner for me. Nick was reluctant to eat any more (he was full!) but didn’t take much convincing to share a cheese board. A selection of six British and French cheeses arrived and included a goat’s offering made with double cream, a Stilton and a cheddar all served with a raisin and apple chutney, apricot and walnut bread and crackers. These were served with a glass of sparkling wine and, as I am not a fan of the traditional port pairing, I was really happy with this.
IN A NUTSHELL
A very a-peel-ing eatery set within a gloriously grand manor house, Peel’s Restaurant really does showcase the finest of seasonal British ingredients, and knowing that a good amount of those are grown in the garden is even better!
You can opt for 3 courses for £55, 2 courses for £40 (Tuesday to Thursday), the cheese board comes in at £15 unless you swap your dessert (£4 supplement) and there’s a 4 and 7 course tasting menu. More information can be found on the website.
Address: Shadowbrook Ln, Hampton in Arden, Solihull B92 0DQ
Phone: 01675 446080